CHINA / SOCIETY
Taobao removes pirated Harry Potter books
Sale of counterfeit Chinese versions began prior to official release
Published: Sep 30, 2016 12:43 AM Updated: Sep 30, 2016 12:48 AM

A large number of pirated copies of the Chinese version of  hugely popular Harry Potter series have appeared on China's largest e-commerce platform, one month before the Chinese publisher is due to release the latest installment.

All the pirated books being sold by 54 stores on taobao.com, a leading domestic e-commerce platform, were removed on Thursday, Song Qiang, a staff member at the People's Literature Publishing House, the Chinese publisher of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, told the Global Times.

Though the total number of the pirated copies that have been sold out on taobao.com is unclear, the highest sales volume of a particular store surpassed 1,000 books, said Song, who is in charge of the book's marketing in the Chinese mainland.

The publishing house will release the simplified Chinese version on October 29.

The pirated Chinese version was priced from 28 yuan ($4.1) to 78 yuan on Taobao, mainly by sellers from Shanghai and South China's Guangdong Province, news portal thepaper.cn reported on Thursday.

A hardcover English version of the book is priced at $17.98 on amazon.com.

The pirated versions were composed by unknown translators after the English version was released on July 31, said Song. 

Those translations are self contradictory, as some names of the figures in the book are different from the previous seven books, Wang Ruiqin, the editor of the Chinese Harry Potter series, said after reviewing several pirated copies, thepaper.cn reported.

Taobao has run a thorough check on the sales of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to root out pirated copies, Li Tingxuan, a PR representative from Taobao's parent company Alibaba Group, told the Global Times on Thursday.

However, Taobao cannot review all the books sold on the platform, and we have also received several complaints from readers about other pirated books, Song added.

A pirated collection of the Harry Potter series is still being sold by a store on taobao.com for 20 yuan with 28 buyers within a month. 

The rampant piracy of books in China, which has lasted for years, has also led to an increase in the copyright fee of foreign books, Gao Fuping, a professor of intellectual property rights at East China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times.

Moreover, the current punishment for IP infringement is not sever enough to deter infringers, said Gao.

In 2014, the authorities confiscated over 12 million pirated and illegal publications, and investigated more than 2,600 cases involving publication piracy in 2014, the Xinhua News Agency reported in April 2015.


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