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DOJ's antitrust case may have huge implications for publishing

Grant Gross | April 12, 2012
The U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five book publishers over alleged e-book price fixing means that the publishers have to reinvent their digital futures, some experts said.

The three publishers, in the settlement, have agreed to "completely reverse course," Lerner added.

It's usual for the DOJ to actively monitor these kinds of settlements, Lerner said. "To me, it seems like the house of cards is falling," she said.

The DOJ's complaint was surprising, in that most news reports before Wednesday seemed to suggest that Apple initiated the price talks, said Fordham University law professor Mark Patterson. But the DOJ's complaint alleges that CEOs of the publishers met for more than a year before Apple became involved, he said.

Older news report had not indicated that it was "quite so blatant a conspiracy as the complaint alleges," Patterson said.

But Apple is not off the hook if the allegations are true, he said. While the public seemed to largely ignore the DOJ's antitrust case against Apple rival Microsoft, Apple may take a reputational hit, he said.

"People may not care about browsers, but people do are about money," he said. "E-book pricing is a big deal."

 

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