John Paczkowski

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Apple’s Cook Must Testify in E-Book Antitrust Suit

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Asa Mathat / AllThingsD.com

Apple CEO Tim Cook will testify in the e-book price-fixing suit brought against it by the U.S. government, despite not being mentioned in the original complaint.

A U.S. District Judge on Wednesday ordered Cook to sit for four hours of deposition in the suit, which alleges Apple and five publishers colluded to raise digital prices in an attempt to thwart Amazon’s practice of discounting e-book best sellers.

Apple, which has dismissed the Justice Department’s efforts to depose Cook as a “fishing expedition,” had argued that Cook’s testimony wouldn’t add anything new to the case. It claimed there is no need for Cook to testify since he wasn’t named in the original complaint, nor has he been mentioned by any publisher witness involved in the case.

But U.S. District Judge Denise Cote disagreed. While the government’s complaint didn’t mention Cook, it did refer to Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. And now that Jobs has passed away, Cote believes Cook should sit for the questions Jobs would have had to answer. Said Cote, “Because of that loss [of Jobs], I think the government is entitled to take testimony from high-level executives within Apple about topics relevant to the government case.”

Now that Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette have all settled with the government, Apple is the last man standing in this suit, which it has been fighting tooth and nail.

As the company said when the DOJ first filed charges: “The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true. The launch of the iBookstore in 2010 fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. Since then customers have benefited from eBooks that are more interactive and engaging. Just as we’ve allowed developers to set prices on the App Store, publishers set prices on the iBookstore.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work