Apple can’t catch a break in China lately. The Chinese state run press has been targeting Apple in a series of increasingly vicious attack pieces, while Apple simultaneously defends itself in court against allegations of patent violation. Now, China’s oldest animation studio is accusing Apple of stealing their movies and selling them on the iTunes store, without paying a cent.
The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post is reporting that Shanghai Animation Film Studio — the first movie studio established by a communist party, and in many was the Disney of China, having released several popular animated films such as The Monkey King — is suing Apple for 3.3 million yuan (or around $500,000), saying Apple is selling its movies without permission.
“We want to keep tight-lipped on this case because, as we see it, it’s just a litigation in which we want to get compensation [for our movies],” an official said. “It’s a sensitive period now since Apple is a big multinational company and it is surrounded by controversies on its practices in China.”
Apple is accused of violating the copyrights of 110 works, with Shanghai Animation Film Studio allegedly discovering Apple selling pirated copies of their movies in July last year.
Apple has yet to comment on the lawsuit, although it seems likely that this is an example of an unscrupulous middleman selling Shanghai Animation’s movies through iTunes without Apple’s knowledge, rather than an actual ethical lapse on Apple’s part.