Judge Rules that Apple Conspired to Raise Prices on eBooks

6177431501_34d33b503a[1]Well that didn't take long. Judge Cote is back in court today with a ruling in the anti-trust trial against Apple. The judge found that Apple did indeed conspire to raise ebook prices, a decision that should have come as no surprise to anyone paying attention.

The trial had concluded on 20 June after the DOJ presented a solid case which showed that Apple was the hub of a conspiracy involving 5 US publishers. All 5 of those publishers had settled long before the trial began, with Macmillan settling last.

A new trial is going to be held so the DOJ and the states can sue for damages. There aren't any details about that new trial just yet, but I do know that Apple is planning to file an appeal.

Given that Apple's co-conspirators settled with the DOJ months ago and that Apple settled a similar lawsuit in Europe, I have to wonder why Apple fought this out to the bitter end. Surely even they could see that they would lose; even Macmillan reached that conclusion months ago.

Ruling (PDF)

P.S. What's even stranger, as one blogger points out, is that Apple engaged in the conspiracy in the first place. They didn't need to launch iBooks with the iPad; it was going to be a great tablet no matter whether Apple had an ebookstore or not. And it's not like the iPad wouldn't have reading apps in short order; Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and other ebookstores were all going to work as fast as possible to release an app for Apple's hot new gadget.

image by Ana Paula Hirama

Reuters

About Nate Hoffelder (11390 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

12 Comments on Judge Rules that Apple Conspired to Raise Prices on eBooks

  1. I’m still a bit perplexed that the Justice dept hasn’t gone after Amazon for selling the ebooks at a loss in the first place.

  2. Well this should take your mind off javascript for a while!

  3. “Apple is liable here for facilitating and encouraging the Publisher Defendants’ collective, illegal restraint of trade. Through their conspiracy they forced Amazon (and other resellers) to relinquish retail pricing authority and then they raised retail e-book prices. Those higher prices were not the result of regular market forces but of a scheme in which Apple was a full participant.”

    I LOL’ed at this conclusion. Are we sure the judge understands who is driving the publishers to band together? So Apple comes along to offer an alternative solution, it is their fault? What kind of logic is that? Also what “other” resellers? Is the judge saying it is better for publishers to practice delaying their titles to Amazon?

    Not once did I see anyone mention about the readers in this case. Are they hurt? Anyone pointed a gun to their heads to force them to hit the buy button for “higher” price ebooks? Where is that civil lawsuit? Let’s bring Apple to it’s knees! What a shame this case has been. I would have love to see how SJ react to this bs.

    No matter. Now, I want to see publishers delay their physical and digital titles to Amazon much like what movie industry is doing to Netflix.

    • “I LOL’ed at this conclusion. Are we sure the judge understands who is driving the publishers to band together? So Apple comes along to offer an alternative solution, it is their fault?”

      This was addressed in the settlement ruling from last September. The judge shot down the argument that 2 wrongs make a right.

      “Not once did I see anyone mention about the readers in this case. Are they hurt? Anyone pointed a gun to their heads to force them to hit the buy button for “higher” price ebooks? Where is that civil lawsuit? Let’s bring Apple to it’s knees! What a shame this case has been. I would have love to see how SJ react to this bs.”

      The civil lawsuit was preempted by the state and federal lawsuits. And when the consumer was forced to choose between an artificially high price or not buying at all, their pocketbooks were indeed harmed, yes.

      “No matter. Now, I want to see publishers delay their physical and digital titles to Amazon much like what movie industry is doing to Netflix.”

      If publishers don’t want to sell to customers, fine. There’s nothing to stop them from making stupid business decisions.

      • Nate, are you familiar with the term Amazon Derangement Syndrome.
        The afflicted live in a universe where up is down, judges protect the guilty, and Spock wears a beard.
        A sad condition, amazon on the brain.

      • “And when the consumer was forced to choose between an artificially high price or not buying at all, their pocketbooks were indeed harmed, yes.”

        For the sake of discussion, let’s for a minute, pretend ebooks is widely available and sold everywhere much like gas for your car… Would you drive out of your daily route to get the cheapest price possible or opt for convenient and pay slightly higher price from a station that is closer or perhaps from a station with friendlier service or simply because you can buy gas at the same time with everything else? Amazon’s domination in ebooks is precisely in their ease of use and wide range of goods…not just pricing.

        You, the consumer has the choice to buy at higher price or not. You lose nothing if you buy nothing. The concept that if you purchased the same item at a higher price at a different location or vendor means nothing when taken out of context.

        This is why I such a problem with this DOJ lawsuit from the start. If we want to talk about justice regarding business practices, lets start with Wall Street and the economic collapse until that happens, I don’t for a second, believe DOJ is operating in the best interests of the American people, much less that of ebook readers.

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Cosa succede in città – Cospirazioni, percentuali e nuovi dispositivi e-ink | La Voce dei Librai
  2. Apple guilty of conspiring to raise ebook prices, federal judge rules | Technology | guardian.co.uk | lennyesq

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