Taiwan and U.S. Libraries Fall Victim to Copyright Infringement

Taiwan and U.S. Libraries Fall Victim to Copyright Infringement
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What you need to know

A series of books on Amazon may be illegal copies of ancient books owned by the U.S. Library of Congress and Taiwan’s National Central Library.

On July 28, Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Ke Jhih-en (柯志恩) received a petition saying that the copyright of a project jointly run by Taiwan’s National Central Library (NCL) and the U.S. Library of Congress (LOC) had been infringed, with 62 illegal copies available for purchase on the Amazon.com.

Between 2005 and 2010, the LOC cooperated with the NCL to digitize 1,700 ancient sinology books. The NCL also authorized EHanism Global Corporation (EGC), a company that collaborates with academic institutes, to preserve and publish ancient content. While the books are owned by the LOC, both libraries share copyrights of these books.

In April, the LOC notified the NCL that 62 copies of eight original books were seen on Amazon’s online bookstore, priced at US$100 per book. They were published under “EHG Books,” EGC’s U.S. branch, and were identical to the original prints, according to the NCL’s investigation. As EGC had allegedly infringed both libraries’ intellectual property, the LOC asked the NCL to deal with the matter.

However, according to Ke, it was not until she phoned the NCL recently that it decided to handle the problem. “If the Taiwanese government does not take action immediately, its reputation may be harmed if the U.S. files a lawsuit against us,” she said.

At the time of writing, the books were still available on Amazon.com.

Lyu Zih-ling (呂姿伶), director of the Special Collections Division at the NCL, later clarified that the NCL had been consulting lawyers since June 23.

However, since EHG published the books under an American company’s name, “after coordinating with U.S. officials, we decided to let LOC file the suit,” said Ke Jin-wei (柯今尉), senior executive officer at the Department of Lifelong Education at the Ministry of Education (MOE).

MOE officials said they will help with the investigation and collect evidence.

Syue Li-jhen (薛麗珍), director at EGC, said the book copies are all rare editions and the company did not violate any copyrights.

First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: J. Michael Cole