DOJ responds to avalanche of criticism over its Apple anti-trust lawsuit

Wed, Jul 25, 2012

Legal, News

In the wake of the DOJ’s lawsuit against Apple amid allegations of colluding with publishers to raise the price of e-books, there have been no shortage of critics lambasting the DOJ for going after Apple when Amazon essentially owns the e-book market. Recently, we highlighted the letter that US Senator Charles Schumer penned taking the DOJ to task for what he effectively calls a shortsighted move with the potential to ruin the publishing industry.

“Choice is critical in any market”, Schumer wrote, “but that is particularly true in cultural markets like books. The prospect that a single firm would control access to books should give any reader pause.”

Interestingly enough, the DOJ has since responded to the avalanche of criticism which has been pointed in its direction.

In a document released on Monday, the DOJ called critiques of its lawsuit “self-serving” while also pointing to recent e-book ventures taken on by Google and Microsoft as evidence that Amazon’s dominance in the marketplace is infused with hype.

This seems quite prepostorous and Daring Fireball’s John Gruber hits the nail on the head, writing:

I’ll bet Amazon sells more e-books in a day than Microsoft and Google combined do in a month. Not that sales numbers alone disprove the DOJ’s argument, but let’s not kid ourselves that Microsoft or Google have yet made a dent in the e-book market.

PaidContent, which has the full DOJ response on its website writes:

Under the terms of the settlement, Apple and the settling publishers must terminate existing “Apple Agency Agreements” within seven days time of the settlement’s final approval. The publishers can then sign new contracts but are forbidden for two years from using clauses that limit retailers’ rights to discount. (Amazon often offers discounts whereas Apple instead uses a commission-style system favored by publishers).

The Justice Department’s filing largely skates away from issues related to Amazon’s role in the e-book market. It states that public comments suggesting it sue Amazon for abuse of dominant market power or address issues of online sales tax issues are beyond the scope of the antitrust action.

If you’ve been following this suit closely, check out the full story over here.


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