Justice Department slams Apple, Refuses to Modify E-book Settlement

This post, by Jeff John Roberts, originally appeared on paidContent.org on 7/23/12.

The Justice Department released a document today that characterized criticism by Apple and publishers of a controversial price-fixing settlement as “self-serving” and ill-founded. The Department also pointed to recent ventures by Google and Microsoft as evidence that the e-book market is thriving and that Amazon’s dominant position has been overstated.


The arguments came as a reply to the 868 public comments that were filed in response to a settlement announced in April under which three publishers agreed they would change their pricing policy in accordance with Justice Department demands.

The settlement was imposed after the Justice Department sued Apple and five publishers for allegedly conspiring to wrest pricing power from Amazon. Apple and two of the publishers, Penguin and Macmillan, refused to settle and are fighting the case in court.

The Justice Department document is posted below with key passages underlined. The primary upshot is that the Department is refusing to modify any parts of the settlement agreement despite about 800 comments in opposition to the deal and new political opposition from people like Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY).

In its filing, Justice says it addresses Apple’s objections at length because of “[Apple’s] central role in the events leading to the underlying enforcement action.”  It also quotes an incident in which Steve Jobs reportedly told publishers, “the customer pays a little more, but that’s what you want anyway.”

The government goes on to refute Apple’s contention that it is imposing a business model on the industry:


Read the rest of the post on paidContent.org, which includes an embedded copy of the DoJ’s full response. Also see Consumers face long wait for $52 million tied to Apple e-book ‘conspiracy’, by the same author, on the same site.