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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Protecting the competitive edge

Apple loses, E-book decision stands:
In a major decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, by a 2-1 margin, has affirmed Judge Denise Cote's 2013 finding that Apple orchestrated a scheme to fix e-book prices.

“We conclude that the district court correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise e-book prices, that the conspiracy unreasonably restrained trade in violation of the Sherman Act, and that the injunction is properly calibrated to protect the public from future anti-competitive harms,” wrote Debra Ann Livingston, for the court. “Accordingly, the judgment of the district court is affirmed.” Judge Dennis Jacobs, who made headlines with his tough questions at oral arguments, dissented.

In addition, the court also upheld Cote’s final injunction, rejecting an appeal by Macmillan and Simon & Schuster which argued that the final order illegally amended their consent decrees.
This is good news for independents and self-publishers, as it prevents the major publishers from ganging up against them to protect their margins.

As we've seen from Tor Books, some publishers believe they are too big and too important to be held accountable. But unless Citi or Goldman get into publishing, that's unlikely to be the case.

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24 Comments:

Anonymous Seneca June 30, 2015 2:47 PM  

Also, it's Apple. It's hard to keep from cheering whenever something bad happens to Apple, even if they didn't deserve it. In this case they did, so the decision merits double cheers.

Blogger MidKnight (#138) June 30, 2015 3:16 PM  

Good.

I don't think this will be the wake-up Apple needs though. They did remarkably well not resting on their laurels for a while and staying focused, but with the recent diversity initiatives, and Cook's recent put-down of those criticizing his green energy initiatives, I feel like they are losing their focus.

The funny part is, I'm no "renewables" idiot, but I also know enough people in Geo/etc. to know there are use cases for solar, and renewables, and that any improvements in those can be helpful. Also - large data centers use a lot of power - so making those run more efficiently is also a plus.

He actually could have sold me via "look. We have a ton of money. it may not pay us back right away or at all, but we're investing in greener server rooms and renewable power to improve our long term flexibility and resiliency, as well as to reduce our long term costs. We're in this for the long term and want to keep our options open."

Nope, he had to be all contemptuous. Instead of selling it as part of a plan to still be relevant in ten or fifteen years, it was sold as part of being "good" right now.

Anonymous WhiteKnightLeo #0368 June 30, 2015 3:27 PM  

Since I'm against the Sherman Act - on the grounds that it abrogates the right of property for both buyers and sellers - I wasn't happy with this decision, and I had high hopes for the dissent. But apparently even the dissent was bullshit. Apple's scheme wasn't going to affect Amazon anyway, and no amount of cartel behavior was going to stop the price of e-books from continuing to fall in any case, since Apple can hardly come out against the technological progress that made it happen in the first place.
.
That said, at least this is a valid application of the Sherman Act (what do you call a valid application of an unconstitutional law? I'm not sure).

Blogger Russell (106) June 30, 2015 3:53 PM  

Cook will prove to be Apple's Ballmer.

Not as loud, but he'll run Apple into the same sort of stupid mistakes Ballmer made.

Like them or hate them, there are very few Gates and Jobs out there.

Anonymous BigGaySteve June 30, 2015 3:59 PM  

Timmy Cook certainly is a little cry baby. Doesn't he know the process of making solar cells is not green?

Other Nannytwats like him are trying to outlaw how everyone who has ever been a firefighter or EMT park. http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2015-06-24/story/jacksonville-council-looks-crack-down-backed-cars?page=2

Blogger David-2 June 30, 2015 4:30 PM  

The original decision by Judge Cote is well worth reading - see http://www.nysd.uscourts.gov/cases/show.php?db=special&id=306 - especially search for "credibility" and marvel how she nails Apple executives for blatantly lying during their testimony.

Blogger Emmanuel Mateo-Morales June 30, 2015 4:40 PM  

@BigGaySteve

Well, that's fucking news to me, since I live in Jacksonville. But then again, I don't mindlessly watch Channel 4 or give that much of a crap for Jacksonville.

Blogger ScuzzaMan June 30, 2015 4:40 PM  

I'm just shocked that the bench would use the word "conspiracy" twice in such close proximity.

They must be crazy. Should be forcibly medicated for their own good.

(Been engaged in Twitter war all evening over California's fascist new forcible vaccination regs. Was accused of being a conspiracy theorist by a bystander. Great fun. Just smiled and said "If you aren't a conspiracy theorist you're not dealing with reality.")

Sorry if that's OT: for those of us moving increasingly to e-reading, this is a good call.

Anonymous Keyboard June 30, 2015 4:50 PM  

"We conclude that the district court correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise e-book prices"

Conspiracy? I thought believing in conspiracies was bad.

Blogger Jack Ward June 30, 2015 5:02 PM  

OT for sure; but, we are discussing ebooks. On a recco I purchased The Martian by Andy Weir; movie due out Oct. Matt Daman.
If the movie is 1/4 good as this book it will be well worth seeing. The book is one of the most enjoyable I read in a while and that includes 3 Body Problem, and Seveneves. Yes, Seveneves. I know VD hates it. I found it interesting. Now, Stephenson, when he does a book, goes all out. If you're going to go somewhat pink, in his world, go all pink. Anyway, I'm not sure I would call Seveneves pink. It seems also to have been set up as a series. I really had my doubts after Vox initial judgement on the thing. Just goes to show you; everyone has their likes and not.

Anonymous Jourdan June 30, 2015 6:17 PM  

Speaking of Tor, has anyone heard any news at all?

Anonymous Jourdan June 30, 2015 6:20 PM  

@keyboard -

The Sherman Act is a great piece of legislation that is premised one of the great Adam Smith's best and most timeless observations:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.

Blogger VD June 30, 2015 7:13 PM  

Speaking of Tor, has anyone heard any news at all?

Yes, Macmillan is still investigating.

Anonymous BGS June 30, 2015 7:14 PM  

Well, that's fucking news to me, since I live in Jacksonville. But then again, I don't mindlessly watch

I don't live in florida but any news that affects 1st responders(fire/emt/cops/ER personnel) makes the rounds nationwide. When that illegal alien sued the people that rescued his unregistered, uninsured, unlicensed ass after he drove into a muddy flooded road, tons of people decided they wouldn't stop to help someone that looked illegal if not on duty. Some even got a second track junk cell phone for their car so they could call 911 to report something but not have their own phone controlled by dispatch. The law is probably to let them get a better database of peoples coming and goings via automatic plate readers.

Vox gaye me wedding cakes for captcha

Blogger rcocean June 30, 2015 8:02 PM  

Most people against the Sherman Act are against it because it puts money in their pocket. Its the same reason people support banksters, 100 year copyrights, and tax breaks for the rich.

The Sherman act - as is this case - helped consumers because it stopped a conspiracy to rig prices. Of course, I'm sure there are a lot of "Libertarians" who liked to pay higher prices to monopolies - because FREEDOM!!

Anonymous DT June 30, 2015 8:18 PM  

4. Russell (106) - Cook will prove to be Apple's Ballmer.

This. Most of the Ilk hate Apple. I actually like most of their products, including OS X. I don't think they're evil, just another big corporation that screws up sometimes because of progressive nonsense at the top.

But Cook is worthless. I expect to see more and more problems, and more progressive SJW BS, with him around.

I also question his commitment to technology that blocks governments, like full phone/computer encryption. I can see Jobs telling the NSA to f-off. I can just as easily see Cook folding and adding a backdoor without even so much as a court battle.

Blogger Chiva June 30, 2015 9:21 PM  

@Jack Ward. Thank you for the heads up on "The Martian." I was thinking of getting it.

Anonymous BigGaySteve June 30, 2015 11:09 PM  

To bad karma didn't kick in and have an illegal alien drunk driver plow through this crowd. What ungrateful cunts, don't they know the white house was just covered in rainbows.
http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/trans-and-queer-illegals-hold-die-in-at-white-house/article/2567344

Anonymous Jack Amok June 30, 2015 11:55 PM  

Most people against the Sherman Act are against it because it puts money in their pocket.

Nah, I'm opposed to it because it's a tool that cabals can use to hammer competitors who are upsetting their cushy apple cart.

In theory it could be used to reign in anti-competitive behavior, but in reality it's more often used by the anti-competitive crony capitalists to bring the upstarts into line. Honestly, it's enforced by fedgov hacks, what else would you expect?

If you disagree, please point to your three favorite examples of pro-competition uses of the Sherman Act. Assuming they're not too obscure, I can probably poke holes in at least two of them.

Anonymous A Visitor July 01, 2015 7:08 AM  

To big not to publish?

Blogger maniacprovost July 01, 2015 12:20 PM  

I read a book based on a series of research papers that showed the correlation between antitrust actions and competition was insignificant. Every use of antitrust law from 1880 to 1970 appeared to be based on politics or public sentiment.

Anonymous Jack Amok July 01, 2015 11:14 PM  

I read a book based on a series of research papers that showed the correlation between antitrust actions and competition was insignificant. Every use of antitrust law from 1880 to 1970 appeared to be based on politics or public sentiment.

McKenzie's Trust on Trial maybe?

I can tell you for a dead-certain fact that the anti-trust case against Microsoft was due to Sun, Oracle and Netscape cozying up to the DoJ lawyers in SF and Anne Bignamen wanting a high-profile case to justify her budget. Netscape folks even tried (in the months prior to the case while the two companies were conduction more or less routine negotiations opened up by Netscape) to bait MS execs into sending emails that could have been construed as proposing collusion.

Microsoft wasn't quite a saint among corporations, but that case was - like most AT cases in history - competitors bribing government hacks to hamstring someone beating them in the market.

Blogger Steffen July 02, 2015 2:10 PM  

While looking for book deals on Amazon today, I noticed Johnny Con's Human Division books are on sale today. The publisher listed in the upper left of the page was Macmillan, not Tor.

Johnny does not need my money, so no sale. It makes me wonder if there has been some recent restructuring at his publishing house, though.

Blogger J Van Stry July 03, 2015 11:57 PM  

The thing that people don't realize, about the whole Apple scam, was that Apple had engineered an ingenious way to cut the price of their ebooks, while screwing over everyone else. This was why Apple pushed the 'fixed price' model.
How were they doing it?
Apple gift cards were $20 for 25 dollars credit in the store!
So you could get five $5 books for twenty bucks, where on ALL the other stores, you had to pay $25 to get that. It was quite the scam, and I'm glad to see they didn't get away with it.

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