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DOJ Softens Proposed Apple E-Book Injunctions, Slightly

Published on August 23, 2013
by John Paczkowski

steve_jobs_ibooksThe U.S. Department of Justice is willing to temper the proposed remedies in its e-book price-fixing case against Apple, but not all that much.

On Friday, the DOJ submitted a revision of its proposed injunction, dialing it back slightly in order to limit the possibility that changes in the publishing and technology industries might cause it to “outlive its usefulness and unnecessarily harm Apple.” Under the terms of the revised proposal, the length of the injunction will be shortened to five years from 10, and the restrictions placed on deals Apple can strike with publishers will stand for two to four years, rather than five.

Hardly the significant adjustments for which Apple has been angling, slagging the remedies variously as “draconian,” “intrusive,” and “wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm.” But the DOJ is clearly unwilling to back down from what it feels are necessary and justified sanctions against a player it feels can’t be trusted.

In its latest filing, the DOJ said that the remedy adjustments Apple proposed “imposed virtually no limitations” on its conduct, beyond those established by the DOJ’s earlier settlements with the publishers involved in the case.

“Quite simply, Apple wants to continue business as usual, regardless of the antitrust laws,” the DOJ said in its filing. “Under these circumstances, this Court should have no confidence that Apple on its own effectively can ensure that its illegal conduct will not be repeated. There must be significant oversight by someone not entrenched in Apple’s culture of insensitivity to basic tenets of antitrust law.”

Apple declined comment on the DOJ’s updated remedies.

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