Apple's Closing Arguments Concludes E-Book Price Fixing Trial
After slightly more than two weeks of litigation, USA v. Apple, Inc. concluded with closing arguments from Apple and the Department of Justice.
AllThingsD reports that Orin Snyder, Apple's lead counsel, closed out the trial with a slick Keynote presentation, as the company's lawyers have been doing throughout the trial.
At one point, the PowerPoint presentation the Government's lawyers were using failed to play audio, with the Judge noting that they weren't using a Mac.
"Apple did not conspire with a single publisher to fix prices in the e-book industry," Snyder said, arguing that the negotiations under scrutiny in this case were nothing more than "standard, lawful business activity." And the DOJ’s claim that they were more than that, a nefarious plot over which Apple served as ringmaster, is entirely unsupported. "All of the government’s evidence is ambiguous at best," Snyder argued, lambasting the DOJ’s case as one built on "word games and inferences."
Snyder's final slide shows an iPad with the text "It's time to close the book on this case".
The Department of Justice has argued that Apple was the "ringmaster" of a scheme to raise e-book pricing across the industry. The government says Apple convinced publishing companies to work together to set pricing above the $9.99 price point that Amazon was selling books at before the iPad came out. The DOJ's slide deck is available from AllThingsD as well.
U.S. District Judge Denise Cote is expected to have a final judgement within a few weeks. Both sides agreed to have a judge hear and decide on the case rather than present it to a jury.
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Top Rated Comments
Where is the DOJ when it comes to enforcing the ADA and FCC rules against companies like Apple, Netflix, Amazon, Vudu and others who resist making closed captions or subtitles available for those who are deaf or hearing impaired? There are so many things that the DOJ should be focusing on, and Apple is not one of them. This is the most ridiculous waste of taxpayer dollars I've witnessed since the $400 Pentagon toilet seat.
I'm quite certainly in my right mind, and my friend, those facts don't exist.
It appears to me that Apple, understanding a dissatisfaction with the status quo on the part of the publishers, made a move to jump into the ebooks market in a powerful way.
That is not illegal, nor is it even immoral by any reasonable person's measure.
The publishers were dissatisfied with Amazon's $9.99 model to begin with. They were pursuing a strategy that would essentially have killed Amazon by refusing to offer top quality new releases in the ebook format at all. Barnes & Noble was pursuing an agency model with the publishers before Apple even entered the conversation.
The fact is that content creators (the publishers) were no longer interested in Amazon's model. Ebooks did not have the market power in 2009 that they do today. They would have killed the $9.99 price point no matter what.
Apple stepping in to support the (already in development) agency model simply gave the publishers a better alternative. Now instead of windowing their high profile titles, they could release them at a price point they were comfortable with in all formats.
Apple did not require that the publishers stop doing business with Amazon. They didn't require that Amazon stop selling ebooks for $9.99, or dictate the price that publishers could sell to other retailers. They simply said they wanted equal pricing so they could remain competitive.
In the end, the publishers told Amazon they were no longer interested in their model--which they were going to do anyway, in one form or another. Amazon chose to remain in the ebooks market and agreed to pay the prices the content creators were asking. This is not collusion, it is not conspiracy and it is not illegal.
They obviously conspired with the big publishers at driving up the e-book prices in such a manner that Amazon would either have to sign a new contract or be blacklisted by the major publishers.
That is illegal.