U.S. senator Schumer: Myopic DOJ needs to drop Apple e-books suit

“Recently the Department of Justice filed suit against Apple and major publishers, alleging that they colluded to raise prices in the digital books market. While the claim sounds plausible on its face, the suit could wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published,” U.S. senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) writes in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal.

“The suit [if successful – MDN Ed.] will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market it occupied for years before competition arrived in the form of Apple. If that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets,” Schumer writes. “Apple entered and negotiated an agency model with publishers, in which the publisher could establish a retail price and Apple would take a percentage cut. The result was increased competition. Amazon’s market share quickly eroded to 60%, and consumers had multiple platforms through which to purchase digital books. Amazon was forced to expand its catalog, invest in innovation, and reduce the prices of its Kindle reading devices. Most importantly, the average price for e-books fell to $7 from $9, according to a filing in the case.”

Schumer writes, “The Justice Department has ignored this overall trend and instead focused on the fact that the prices for some new releases have gone up. This misses the forest for the trees. While consumers may have a short-term interest in today’s new release e-book prices, they have a more pressing long-term interest in the survival of the publishing industry… The Justice Department lawsuit is also unsettling from a broader perspective. As our economy transitions to digital platforms, we should be celebrating and supporting industries that find ways to adapt and grow. By developing a pricing model that made e-book sales work for them, publishers did just that.”

“I am concerned that the mere filing of this lawsuit has empowered monopolists and hurt innovators. I believe it will have a deterrent effect not only on publishers but on other industries that are coming up with creative ways to grow and adapt to the Internet,” Schumer writes. “The administration needs to reassess its prosecution priorities. Justice Department officials currently have comprehensive guidelines in place to determine when they should challenge mergers, but they have no such guidelines for non-merger investigations. It’s time to come up with some. These new guidelines should take a broad, pragmatic view of the market as a whole. As the e-books case shows, this kind of perspective is sorely missing today.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Once again, as we’ve said from the very beginning of this fiasco: “The U.S. DOJ is plainly inept.”

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Apple’s U.S. e-books antitrust case set for 2013 trial – June 24, 2012
U.S. government complains, claims Apple trying to rush e-books antitrust case – June 21, 2012
Barnes & Noble blasts U.S. DOJ e-book settlement proposal – June 7, 2012
Apple: U.S. government’s e-book antitrust lawsuit ‘is fundamentally flawed as a matter of fact and law’ – May 24, 2012
Federal Judge rejects Apple and publishers’ attempt to dismiss civil case alleging e-book price-fixing – May 15, 2012
Court documents reveal Steve Jobs email pushing e-book agency model; 17 more states join class action suit – May 15, 2012
Apple vs. Amazon: Who’s really fixing eBook prices? – April 17, 2012
Apple: U.S. DOJ’s accusation of collusion against iBookstore is simply not true – April 12, 2012
Apple not likely to be a loser in legal fight over eBooks – April 12, 2012
16 U.S. states join DOJ’s eBook antitrust action against Apple, publishers – April 12, 2012
Australian gov’t considers suing Apple, five major publishers over eBook pricing – April 12, 2012
DOJ’s panties in a bunch over Apple and eBooks, but what about Amazon? – April 12, 2012
Antitrust experts: Apple likely to beat U.S. DOJ, win its eBook lawsuit – April 12, 2012
Why the market shrugged off the Apple antitrust suit – April 11, 2012
What’s wrong with the U.S. DOJ? – April 11, 2012
Macmillan CEO blasts U.S. DOJ; gov’t on verge of killing real competition for appearance of competition – April 11, 2012
U.S. DOJ hits Apple, major publishers with antitrust lawsuit, alleges collusion on eBook prices – April 11, 2012
U.S. DOJ may sue Apple over ebook price-fixing as early as today, sources say – April 11, 2012

41 Comments

  1. How is it possible that this obama lemming had an actual thought of his own. Up until now he only knew how to parrot obama and reid. Us NY’rs sure are proud of our senator. I cannot wait to tell my friends….

        1. @ peterblood: I won’t bother suggesting you open your mind as I am well aware that Neo-Con-Job suckers are incapable of doing so.

          ‘Bah bah’ says the sheeple.

          The fact is that Schumer has a good record of speaking up on issues that he personally sees as important. As one of his constituents, I have never known him to join the DemoCrap clones unless he personally agreed with them. He is exactly the sort of person I actually like having in government, whether he gets it right or not.

          Party politics are dumdum politics. Follow either party’s line and you’re just a worthless little clonebot. 😯

          1. Good for Chuck. Absolutely correct, well reasoned and he does have an independent inclination from time to time. But certainly not even close to 50-50.

            Aura and Peter have differing viewpoints, obviously. One hurled insults and the other responded with the same. Sounds fair to me. The people decide.

            Derek, indeed, “clonebots” can be found on both sides. Wish in one hand, I know, we had more choice of sides.

            Fingers crossed reality rules …

    1. I too long for the days of Bush – when the US flowered as the land of milk and honey, when no-one was out of work, and the halls of government were filled with wise and benevolent Republicans who care only about the well being of Joe Average.

      1. Don’t be too proud of this Democratic terror either. Neither party has a sterling record. Clinton was lucky to preside over a prosperous era or decade he had little to do with creating. Obama is not so lucky. Everyone thinks Presidents have this much control when they really don’t. Best thing they can do is get out of the way.

        1. So why then the politically biased invective against a Democrat, if one party is as bad as another and Presidents have so little power?

          The fact is the DOJ has its own agenda, based on long time managers who, obviously, have no clue about modern technology and are easily swayed by people (like amazon) who have their own agenda. This isn’t some anti-business/capitalist agenda, since if the DOJ winds, a really BIG business does win – Amazon!

          It is, simply, a result of cluelessness within the management of the DOJ, nothing more, nothing less. Hopefully, some pressure from tech savvy members of Congress, like this guy, will help them see the light.

    1. Yet another example of the glaring ignorance shown by the average Yank when referring to the rest of the world. BLN, it seems you can actually read, and have a reasonable level of education and intelligence, so try using it to look at examples of REAL Communism in the wider world. You could look at Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, Illuminoso Sendoro, Maoist China, Robert Mugabe and his Marxist regime in Zimbabwe, for starters.
      Then, having reached a moderate level of enlightenment, you could stop referring to your own government as ‘Communist’.
      If you could only understand just how low an opinion people in the rest of the world have of America and its inhabitants; just in case I happen to travel abroad, I have a tee shirt with ‘I AM NOT AMERICAN’ printed on the front…
      Get a clue, why don’t you.

      1. “Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, Illuminoso Sendoro, Maoist China, Robert Mugabe and his Marxist regime in Zimbabwe”

        Except those regimes had nothing to do with communism either.

        Neither Obama, nor the Khmer Rouge, nor Illuminoso Sendoro, nor Maoist China, nor Robert Mugabe ever tore down the oligarchy and turned over the governance and the means of production over to the people.

        Here’s a quick tip on how to recognize communism. If the people aren’t in control, shit ain’t communist. If a government says it’s communist but the people aren’t in control, then it’s bullshitting you.

  2. IMHO, DOJ filed suits against AAPL is simply because some ultra-small-dick DOJ lawyers want to get attention to prepare for their eventual private sector law career.

  3. When will you fools wake up that it isn’t about Liberals vs Conservatives or Democrats vs Republicans. It’s about who is bought and sold by lobbyists and who is not. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of the government need to get the message that we are tired of all the special interests buying the laws. People have to stop being led astray by false notions that serve no purpose other than aligning their votes with the current business as usual. Neither liberals nor conservatives are “morons,” but being polarized by special interest bought and sold politicians is truly a sign of lazy thinking and perpetuation of the status quo. Hooray for Schumer.

    1. I agree that there are deep, deep problems with political influence being sold to special interests in Washington and elsewhere in the American political system. But it’s a bit naive to claim that there aren’t also fundamental philosophical differences between American liberals and American conservatives these days. Actually, if you buy the “two-axis” political theory, “liberal vs. conservative” in America has really turned about 90 degrees to become “statist vs. libertarian”.

      Me, I’m a libertarian. And as one, I’m shocked — although pleasantly surprised — that the usually “statist” Senator Schumer has taken this position. Good for him.

      1. If you’re pro-gun, join the NRA. If you’re a senior citizen, join AARP. If you own a small business, join the NFIB. And if you belong to a union, you have no choice but to contribute. Business and Government have been intimately connected since this country was founded. You need to learn how to play the game!

      2. “Philosophical” differences? You mean like conservatives being small government and fiscally responsible? Wait Bush blew that philosophy away now didn’t he? You mean like liberals being anti-business? Oh Wait, Obama has stacked regulatory agencies with ex-execs from the very companies they are supposed to control, he has been very pro-business. There goes that argument…

        You see it is all rhetoric and rabble-rousing to get us fighting, all the while the ‘people’ getting their way are corporations. Often at our and the environments expense. Wake up

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