Judge rubber-stamps U.S. e-books settlement

“In a move that could reshape the publishing industry, a federal judge [U.S. District Judge Denise Cote] has approved a settlement with three of the nation’s largest book publishers over alleged collusion in the pricing of e-books,” Chad Bray and Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg report for The Wall Street Journal. “The approval comes as Apple Inc. and two other publishers are preparing to defend themselves next June over antitrust allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice that they agreed to keep e-book prices artificially high in response to steep discounting by Amazon.com Inc.”

“Lagardère SCA’s Hachette Book Group, CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster Inc. and News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC all agreed in April as part of the settlement to terminate their agreements with Apple and refrain from limiting any retailer’s ability to set e-book prices for two years,” Bray and Trachtenberg report. “Apple had hoped to stave off final approval, and termination of the agreements, until after next year’s trial. The approval opens the door for Amazon and other retailers to steeply discount e-book titles.”

Bray and Trachtenberg report, “Bob Kohn, an antitrust lawyer who has filed objections to the settlement, on Thursday said that ‘it appears that the District Court deferred to the Justice Department in its analysis. It’s very disappointing that the court has rendered a judgment that will cause great harm to consumers of e-books because the judgment reverses the pro-competitive effects of the agency pricing model.’ Mr. Kohn suggested that the decision will eventually be appealed. ‘It’s devastating to bookstores,’ said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. ‘For two years the settling publishers must allow vendors to discount e-books at any price they want. The court acknowledges that this restores the status quo conditions before 2010, when Amazon was able capture 90% of the e-book market. The Justice Department is reshaping the literary marketplace without submitting a single economic study to the court to justify its actions.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins are weak-kneed pushovers, as U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, and the U.S. DOJ is plainly inept. For this fiasco alone, they ought to rename it the Department of Injustice.

Related articles:
Apple, four publishers offer e-books antitrust concessions, says source – August 31, 2012
Apple bashes Amazon, calls U.S. DOJ settlement proposal ‘fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented’ – August 16, 2012
U.S. antitrust settlement with e-book publishers should be approved, feds say – August 4, 2012
U.S. Justice Department slams Apple, refuses to modify e-book settlement – July 23, 2012
U.S. senator Schumer: Myopic DOJ needs to drop Apple e-books suit – July 18, 2012
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
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16 U.S. states join DOJ’s eBook antitrust action against Apple, publishers – April 12, 2012
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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
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27 Comments

    1. I see that your partisan glasses are still polished. There is never a doubt about your binary viewpoint on things, is there.

      An idea proposed by the right? Great!

      The identical idea proposed by the left? Terrible!

      That viewpoint has been highly damaging to this country over the past few years and, if it continues, is a guaranteed recipe for disaster going forward. For democracy to work, citizens have to be open to civil and reasoned discussion and debate.

      1. Remember the GOP debates? Literally all of them, if offered a debt-reduction deal that’s 10-to-1 in their favor, would simply refuse. All eight candidates raised their hand. They’re not open to discussion or debate.

  1. Publishing industry is much like other controlled industries (music, airlines, fuel etc). No matter what model is employed, the same old restrictive market control philosophies continue behind the scene. There has got to be a better way for these industries to make $$$ without gouging/manipulating the consumer.

    1. The only way they make money is the consumer. The problem is the insatiable need of Wall Street who thinks the only viable company is one that continually ups their profits year after year.
      A nice, reasonable profit earned for a great service/item is deemed a failure.

      1. Also a failure to not grant $50 million hundreds of millions in bonuses to execs instead of spreading it out among employees, apparently. That amount of money doesn’t amount to much when spread among thousands of employees, but means a lot to lower income people, and gets spent quicker and increases jobs than it does with a single person. I don’t really care what a person makes, but it’s just smarter to spread it out. Pacifies the Masses (and gives them a taste of having to pay taxes – see how they like it). But that’s okay, keep playing this game and we’ll all be like Greece sooner rather than later.

  2. As far as I concerned this is another example of our majesty Obama. The ass that is looking to force more money to the US to allow him to remain King SHIT of the world. Anyone that believes different is a fool. After my time under presidents and in this industry, all judgements like this idiot are forced on the inane public by the government. I suggest that the time had come. I am tired of taxes. More taxes and where the #^}{ is my representation.

    Vote for idiot Homer Simpson. His IQ is at least 200 points above Obama sin lama the terrorist.

    Come on boys. Debate the FACS with me. I am smarter than you all

    1. It was just a matter of time before someone like you managed to get onto a computer and peck out a drooling mess without having a clue about the world.

      The FACTS are a lot different than the FACS. Clueless!

    2. Let’s all give Obama another 4 years to do socialist experiments, like the one Clinton did and destroyed the world economy for decades to come.

      At President Clinton’s direction, no fewer than 10 federal agencies issued a chilling ultimatum to banks and mortgage lenders to ease credit for lower-income minorities or face investigations for lending discrimination and suffer the related adverse publicity. They also were threatened with denial of access to the all-important secondary mortgage market and stiff fines, along with other penalties.

      The threat was codified in a 20-page “Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending” and entered into the Federal Register on April 15, 1994, by the Interagency Task Force on Fair Lending. Clinton set up the little-known body to coordinate an unprecedented crackdown on alleged bank redlining.
      The edict — completely overlooked by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission and the mainstream media — was signed by then-HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros, Attorney General Janet Reno, Comptroller of the Currency Eugene Ludwig and Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, along with the heads of six other financial regulatory agencies.

      “The agencies will not tolerate lending discrimination in any form,” the document warned financial institutions.
      So this is where it all started.  In 1994.  When the government pressured lenders to qualify the unqualified.  To put people into houses they couldn’t afford.

      1. Stop using logic and reasoning when speaking to the emotionally challenged and crippled masses. To get their attention you need to remove rational thought, blame somebody else and constantly deflect any questions that shine the light on reality. I do this daily for fun. All the world can be your nursery too.

      2. And the unqualified people moving into homes they can’t afford shoulder zero responsibility? It was all the Clinton administration’s fault for forcing these people into making idiotic decisions to take on mortgages they knew they couldn’t afford. Thanks for clearling that up for me @Ubermac.

        1. Hey dumb-ass. Even in a perfect world with the banks, smart people get suckered into loans that are a bit out of reach.

          When we went to buy our first house the friendly back loan officer ran the numbers after noting any credit card balances, car loans and college loans, we ran thru everything and they said, “You can afford this big of a loan.”
          My comment to them was, “I don’t see food factored in the monthly bills. How are we going to buy groceries?”
          That caught the bank person off guard. I actually had pre-planned and figured out all the finances and what we could spend per month on a house.
          They figure most people don’t do that.

          Many not so smart put their trust in the bank to figure it out for them.

          Why would the bank mislead us?

          Then 1994 happened and many poor and disadvantaged that have even less skills in math and common sense went to banks and got loans.
          Once again, WHY WOULD BANKS MISLEAD US?

          They trusted them. They got screwed.

  3. I said it before:

    many publishers and huge number of writers don’t have the Balls to go against amazon.

    They must realize that settling means Amazon gets stronger. Amazon has a strangle hold on the industry and is putting bookstores out of business thus reducing retail channels.

    Because Amazon is so big it can shift it’s profits to sell whatever it chooses at Below Cost even (to whack it’s competitors). Long term it’s bad for the producers because eventally (as it’s amazons aim) the only retail point left would be Amazon and the producers would be left with diminishing returns.

    Writers and publishers are in COMMUNICATION business (they frequently rail for or against stuff like Global Warming, Wars etc) and yet they are mum here, afraid of Amazon (their largest retail outlet). Few have the courage to stand with Apple. (Apple famously stood alone against crappy Adobe Mobile Flash with zero support from Motorola,HTC , Samsung etc )

    Writers and experts at publicity events (book signings, interviews on talk shows) etc yet on this issue they are mostly silent (if amazon stops selling them they are trashed. Barnes and Noble once banned certain comic book publishers. If amazon did it to a publisher the publisher would be severely hurt but amazon can still depend on selling electronics and other stuff so the publishers are terrified)

  4. Bummer. Apple may now possibly pressure its iBook publishers (like me) to drop their prices even further (which we did last round) to compete with Amazon. We just re-signed an amended contract with Apple NOT to sell books over a certain price a few months ago (isn’t that price-fixing in reverse?). Now we will have to see that bar lowered even further, methinks. I hope I’m wrong.

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