Authors Believe Apple's Entry Into E-Book Market Wasn't Anti-Competitive

by

ibooks-iconA coalition of authors and well-known booksellers have come forth to back Apple in a petition to overturn a recent ruling that stated the company was liable in conspiring to fix the prices of electronic books when its iBooks store launched on the iPad in 2010 (via Cult of Mac).

Together, the Authors Guild, Authors United, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble have filed a 37-page amicus brief that states Apple was in fact enhancing competition and benefiting its customers.

“We are pleased to lend our support in this matter, critical to anyone interested in a competitive and diverse literary marketplace,” said Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild, in a statement. “We fundamentally question the wisdom of the Second Circuit’s use of antitrust law to punish a business arrangement that demonstrably increased competition in the e-book marketplace.”

The brief falls in line with Apple's petition of the Supreme Court to review the case this past October, after first being found guilty of conspiring to artificially inflate the prices of e-books back in 2013, when the case started. The amicus brief filed by the authors and booksellers backs up Apple's attempts at overturning the ruling, stating that a positive outcome for the case is "critical to maintaining a healthy marketplace for the ideas and First Amendment-protected expression that authors and bookstores facilitate."

The groups even mention Amazon as more of a "disruptive" force in the e-books market, with a "loss leader" strategy that led to domination over the digital bookselling marketplace. The groups use Amazon's recent public battles with publishers like Hachette, where it essentially ceased selling any of their novels due to a price point disagreement, as a primary example. They also look at the market monopoly Amazon held before Apple entered with iBooks in 2010.

“With a 90% market share, nearly every customer who wanted to purchase an e-book had to do so through Amazon,” the brief states. “Amazon could exercise this power to suppress specific publishers, authors, or messages with which it disagreed, with impunity. It also could steer the culture toward the ideas it valued. Amazon controlled what e-books were promoted on its home page, what e-books were recommended to consumers, and what books appeared at the top of a consumer’s search results when she searched for e-books on the Amazon.com website."

With no response yet from the Department of Justice regarding Apple's filing for a review, the company still has an uncertain future in the two year-long case. All respondents have until January 4 to file a response in opposition to Apple's petitioning of the Supreme Court, so the next leg of the case is just over a month away.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
61 months ago
It's common sense that Apple's entry into the E-Book market was great news for consumers, authors and the industry at large. It was bad news for those who wanted to control the market with bullyboy tactics that would only harm authors and publishers.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago

Well, this is shocking. The suppliers of the content don't think that the raising of prices unilaterally was anti-competitive.

Suppliers always raise prices unilaterally. I would help you out if I could figure out at all what it was you were actually trying to say. The seller of something always controls the price. Apple let the owners of the content set the price they wanted to sell their content for. That was it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago
Although I am neither a lawyer or an expert in these sorts of litigation, I did take the time to read some of the evidence. My take is that Apple, when negotiating with the publishers was directly aiming to bring down Amazon and some of the early contract language was very much anti-competitive in that it would force the publishers to change the agreement with Amazon. The final contracts did not have any of this language, but the intent could be interpreted based on the early language.

Apple was smart to not include the language because it did seem wrong. THe question is whether the final contract was still anti-competitive. My personal opinion is that it is not, but the early language certainly give the appearance of problems. Can Apple be held liable about language that was ultimately removed from the final contract? I think this is the bigger question and why they are fighting. Frankly, Apple put themselves in this spot and the question is did they do enough to back out before the ink was dry. If I read the final contract, on its own it looks fine. It's the backstory that looks shady.

Based on all this, I understand why they went after Apple, but I also think they went to far, since Apple ultimately came to their senses and back off the bad language.

Again, my take, based on non-expert reading of the details.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago

Although I am neither a lawyer or an expert in these sorts of litigation, I did take the time to read some of the evidence. My take is that Apple, when negotiating with the publishers was directly aiming to bring down Amazon and some of the early contract language was very much anti-competitive in that it would force the publishers to change the agreement with Amazon. The final contracts did not have any of this language, but the intent could be interpreted based on the early language.

Apple was smart to not include the language because it did seem wrong. THe question is whether the final contract was still anti-competitive. My personal opinion is that it is not, but the early language certainly give the appearance of problems. Can Apple be held liable about language that was ultimately removed from the final contract? I think this is the bigger question and why they are fighting. Frankly, Apple put themselves in this spot and the question is did they do enough to back out before the ink was dry. If I read the final contract, on its own it looks fine. It's the backstory that looks shady.

Based on all this, I understand why they went after Apple, but I also think they went to far, since Apple ultimately came to their senses and back off the bad language.

Again, my take, based on non-expert reading of the details.

Pretty good comment. I think, though, the basis of the anti-competitive action was that the publishers were colluding, and Apple was the go-between. That, in itself, is illegal. So the early language may indeed be evidence of that collusion. The final contract is actually less relevant; as it would have been ok for Apple to have individual agreements with each publisher like the ones in the contract. The anti-competitive part was the publishers agreeing with each other, via Apple.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago

Well, this is shocking. The suppliers of the content don't think that the raising of prices unilaterally was anti-competitive.

The "suppliers of the content" (in other words hard working authors who make a living writing the books that you want to read at the cheapest price possible) who actually know what's going on in the market have figured out that Amazon had a 90% monopoly in the market which makes any allegations of anti-competitiveness against any else ridiculous, and they have also first hand experience with Amazon brutally using their monopoly to force companies like Hachette to surrender to their conditions.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
61 months ago
Well, this is shocking. The suppliers of the content don't think that the raising of prices unilaterally was anti-competitive.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone Maker Foxconn Says China's 'Days as the World's Factory Are Done'

Wednesday August 12, 2020 7:55 am PDT by
China will no longer be the world's manufacturing epicenter going forward, according to Apple's largest supply chain partner Foxconn, which has been gradually expanding its operations in other countries amid the U.S.-China trade war. "No matter if it's India, Southeast Asia or the Americas, there will be a manufacturing ecosystem in each," said Foxconn chairman Young Liu, according to Bloombe...

Leaker Jon Prosser: Apple Watch and iPad Launching in September, iPhone 12 Event to Take Place in October

Wednesday August 12, 2020 4:31 pm PDT by
Apple last month confirmed that this year's iPhone 12 models will launch outside of their normal September timeframe and will be "available a few weeks later," which has led to speculation about when an event might be held. Leaker Jon Prosser, who sometimes shares accurate knowledge of Apple's plans, today said that Apple will hold its iPhone 12 event during the week of October 12, with...

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Apple to Launch Bundled Subscription Services Called 'Apple One'

Thursday August 13, 2020 3:41 am PDT by
Apple will launch a new range of subscription service bundles called "Apple One" as soon as October, according to a new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The series of bundles would allow customers to subscribe to several Apple digital services together. This is expected to result in a lower monthly price than when the services are subscribed to individually. Bloomberg reports that the...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.6.1 With Fix for Storage Issue and Green Tinted Displays

Wednesday August 12, 2020 1:31 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.6.1, minor updates that come a month after the release of the iOS 13.6 update with Car Keys and Audio Apple News+ stories. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.6.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13.6.1 addresses an issue that could cause...

Apple May Release 4G-Only iPhone 12 in Early 2021

Tuesday August 11, 2020 5:28 am PDT by
In a research note shared by Business Insider, Wedbush Securities analysts said that Apple may release a cheaper iPhone 12 in early 2021 with no 5G connectivity. Wedbush initially believed Apple would launch a mix of 4G and 5G iPhone 12 models this fall. Following re-examination of Asian supply chains, analysts Daniel Ives, Strecker Backe, and Ahmad Khalil revised the predictions,...

Apple Removes Fortnite From App Store [Update: Epic Files Lawsuit Against Apple]

Thursday August 13, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Just hours after Epic Games introduced a new direct payment option for Fortnite that skirts Apple's in-app purchase rules, Apple has pulled the Fortnite app from the App Store. Fortnite is no longer available for download on the iPhone or the iPad, and Apple provided a statement to MacRumors on Fortnite's removal:Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store...

iPad Pro Keyboard Comparison: Logitech's $160 Folio Touch vs. Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard

Tuesday August 11, 2020 2:11 pm PDT by
Logitech recently debuted the Folio Touch, a keyboard and trackpad case designed for the 11-inch iPad Pro that serves as an alternative to the Magic Keyboard. In our latest YouTube video, we compare the $160 Folio Touch to Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard to see which is better. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Logitech is selling the Folio Touch for $160, while Apple's...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.6 Supplemental Update With Virtualization Bug Fix

Wednesday August 12, 2020 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple today released a supplemental update for macOS Catalina 10.15.6, with the update coming a month after the original launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.6. The ‌‌macOS Catalina‌‌ 10.15.6 Supplemental Update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System Preferences app. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a problem that could cause...

Kuo: Global iPhone Shipments Could Decline Up to 30% If Apple Forced to Remove WeChat From App Store [Updated x2]

Sunday August 9, 2020 10:17 pm PDT by
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo viewed by MacRumors. The removal could occur due to a recent executive order aiming to ban U.S. transactions with WeChat and its parent company Tencent. Kuo lays out...