John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple Alone Fighting DOJ E-Book Suit After Macmillan Settlement

The U.S. Justice Department has reached a settlement with Macmillan in the e-book price-fixing suit it brought against five of the largest U.S. publishers and Apple nearly a year ago. The settlement follows similar deals inked with Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette, and leaves Apple as the lone company fighting the suit.

Macmillan’s settlement appears to follow a template similar to the one used by the DOJ with Macmillan’s publishing-industry rivals. Here’s a rundown from the DOJ’s announcement:

Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions. The proposed settlement agreement also will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on Macmillan, including requirements that it provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers and regularly report to the department on any communications it has with other publishers. Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement.

And then there was Apple …

Cupertino hasn’t yet responded to a request for a comment — nor do I expect it will. But the company made its position on the DOJ’s charges very clear last April, when the suit was first filed.

“The DOJ’s accusation of collusion against Apple is simply not true,” an Apple spokesman told AllThingsD at the time. “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