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

dumastudetto Avatar
80 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)
wovel Avatar
80 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)
2457282 Avatar
80 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)
Gasu E. Avatar
80 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)
gnasher729 Avatar
80 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)
tobefirst ⚽️ Avatar
80 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)

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
top stories 2022jan22

Top Stories: Spring Apple Event Rumors, Apple Opposes Sideloading, and More

Saturday January 22, 2022 6:00 am PST by
As we roll into the latter half of January, we're starting to hear more about a potential spring Apple event, which is likely to take place in March or April. There are a number of potential announcements on deck, so an event would be a good opportunity for Apple to get them all out there. We've also been going back and forth on some iPhone 14 rumors, and we've taken a look at a number of...
att gigabit internet

AT&T Bringing $180/Month 5-Gigabit Internet to 70 Cities

Monday January 24, 2022 9:20 am PST by
AT&T today announced the launch of upgraded AT&T Fiber plans, which support speeds of up to 5 Gigabits for some customers. There are two separate plans, one "2 GIG" plan and one "5 GIG" plan, available to new and existing AT&T Fiber subscribers. According to AT&T, the new plans are available to nearly 5.2 million customers across 70 metro areas including Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago, San...
macbook pro 14 16 2021

Three Months After Launch, Apple Still Struggling to Meet Demand for Redesigned 14-Inch and 16-Inch MacBook Pro

Monday January 24, 2022 7:12 am PST by
Three months after their launch, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros continue to experience high demand and seemingly short supply, with shipping dates for both models stretching into multiple weeks in several of Apple's key markets. In the United States, the baseline 14-inch MacBook Pro with the M1 Pro chip is estimated to ship in three to four weeks, promising an arrival by at least...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...