E-commerce companies called to account for fake books in circulation

09:19 | 10/08/2020
E-commerce companies cannot deny their responsibilities behind the rampage of fake books on their platforms.
e commerce companies called to account for fake books in circulation
Fake books are very easy to come by on e-commerce platforms

This was shared by Nguyen Duc Hung, deputy director of TGS Law Firm, who pointed to Article 36.8 of Decree No.52/2013/ND-CP on e-commerce which stipulates that the responsibilities of traders or organisations providing e-commerce trading floor services include taking timely remedial measures upon detection or receipt of reports about business acts in violation of the law on the e-commerce trading floor.

“If e-commerce companies do not disclose, prevent, and remove the items from their platforms in time, they violate the regulation,” Hung said.

Thus, the abundance of fake books on Shopee and Sendo heavily implies that the platforms are failing to dispense the legal obligations.

As of early this March, the copyright department of local book publisher First News detected more than 43 Facebook pages and nearly 70 e-commerce vendors selling fake books. Moreover, the firm found more than 116 YouTube channels uploading audiobooks illegally.

In a recent response to VIR, Nguyen Van Phuoc, CEO of First News, said that it is planning to file lawsuits on e-commerce platforms that abetted the prolonged trading of fake books.

Phuoc in a Facebook post recently called attention to the many vendors selling fake books on Shopee and Sendo, with many offering items that violate the copyrights of First News, Alpha Books, and other publishers.

Previously, speaking at an event, Phuoc revealed that the publisher contacted the platforms to report the issues in hopes that the offending vendors would be removed but were rebutted. The representatives of the sites said that they are platforms only letting sellersSe operate a business, with 13 per cent commission on their revenue. Therefore, they are not responsible for the performance of the vendors.

“First News prints only one version of a book, however, fake book sellers have many versions with very low prices. First News has 1,000 books but has to compete with more than 3,000 fake and smuggled books,” said Phuoc. “Readers and dealers find it increasingly difficult to distinguish fake and authentic books due to the mounting skills of counterfeiters.”

This has resulted in an 80 per cent plunge in customer footfall at its bookshops, according to First News.

Other publishers like Kim Dong and Alphabooks, Nha Nam, and Dong A are in the same situation.

Kim Dong and Dong A purchased several books for which they hold the copyright from e-commerce sites. Not unexpectedly, all the items were fake. Both of them sent notices to their customers to keep an eye out and avoid forgeries. The publishers said that they have no better solutions for the issue.

Nha Nam even uploaded a video helping customers to distinguish authentic and fake books on its Facebook fan page.

According to the publishers, only about 0.001 per cent of local readers could recognise authenticat books, which is the reason behind the rampage of fake books in the market.

Facing queries about fake books, a representative of Sendo told VIR that it regularly rechecks all book items traded on its platform to ensure compliance with Sendo’s strict requirements, which include vendors getting licenses to export and import printed materials from the Ministry of Information and Communications.

Echoing this, the representative of Shopee told VIR that the company will collaborate with local authorities to inspect the related violations. At the same time, the platform also asserts that it is doing all in its power to crack down on vendors selling fake and smuggled goods or items violating intellectual property rights as soon as receiving reliable reports, following Decree No.52/2013/ND-CP and Circular No.47/2014/TT-BCT.

“We only partner with genuine sellers who can submit the requisite documents and materials proving that the items they put on sale are authentic,” said the representative, adding that to date, Shopee has yet to receive “reliable allegations” from First News. 

Along with Vietnam, publishers across the globe are fighting for their rights that have been threatened by fake book sellers. 

Newswire CNBC cited Cengage – a digital content publisher specialised in online textbooks stated that its revenue from textbook business dropped by 17 per cent in 2017 with the main reason being the spike in fake textbooks and illegally distributed e-books.

Michael E. Hansen, CEO of Cengage said that it suffers about $70-100 million in damages a year. “What changed is just the amount of counterfeits in the market has spiked over the last 18 to 24 months. The more we started to dig in and do test purchases, the more we came across, in some cases, a staggering number of counterfeits in certain marketplaces.”

By An Nhien

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