(Yicai Global) Feb. 18 -- A university student has successfully sued the operator of an online academic library in China over unreasonable top-up fees.
A court in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, ruled that Beijing-based operator Tongfang Knowledge Network Technology's term of service for China National Knowledge Infrastructure violated consumer rights and it has now adjusted top-up fees so that users can recharge as little as CNY0.5 via text message.
Almost all university students in the country become paid members of the CNKI database to help them with their studies, originally paying a minimum top-up fee of CNY50 (USD7.40) for their account despite each paid paper only costing CNY7 to download. Users wanting a refund of their fee also need to pay a handling fee, according to state-backed China National Radio.
Founded in 1999, CNKI has a full-text database of Chinese journals, a database of Chinese doctoral dissertations, and a full-text database of Chinese outstanding master's thesis. CNKI has more than 20,000 institutional users, over 20 million registered users, and the annual volume of full-text downloads reached two billion as of the end of 2017.
Whether CNKI's actions constitute monopolistic behavior remains to be judged by relevant agencies, CNR reported Zhilin Law Firm Attorney Zhao Zhanling as saying. "There is really no room for bargaining for the public and universities," he said. "After all, CNKI has a very high market share in the field of document retrieval. The content of the literature is very comprehensive and the resources are very rich."
"However, according to the anti-monopoly law, it is necessary to first identify the market that CNKI works in before determining if there is market dominance," Zhao added.