Publishers object to US restrictions on Apple in e-books case

Kindle Credit: Amazon
Kindle
Credit: Amazon

Five of the largest U.S. publishers objected to tough new restrictions sought by the U.S. government against Apple for illegally conspiring to raise e-book prices.

In a motion filed Wednesday in U.S. district court in Manhattan, the publishers said a proposed final order in the case would effectively prevent Apple from entering into agreements that limit its ability to discount books.

The publishers said provisions proposed by the U.S. Justice Department would instead punish the publishers, which had already reached settlements with the federal government and dozens of states, paying $166 million to benefit consumers.

“Despite achieving their stated goal of returning price competition, plaintiffs now seek to improperly impose additional, unwarranted restrictions on the settling defendants, thereby depriving each publisher of the benefit of its bargain with plaintiffs,” the publishers wrote.

The motion came ahead of a Friday hearing on whether the court should adopt remedies proposed by the Justice Department and 33 U.S. states and territories after a ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Denise Cote that Apple conspired with the publishers.

The Justice Department accused Apple of conspiring to undercut Amazon.com Inc’s e-book dominance, causing some e-book prices to rise to $12.99 or $14.99 from the $9.99 that the online retailer charged. Amazon once had a 90 percent market share.

Following Cote’s ruling, the government asked that she require Apple to end contracts with the five publishers and be prevented for five years from entering contracts that the Justice Department says would restrict Apple from competing on price.

Apple would also be forced to hire an internal antitrust compliance officer and employ a court-appointed external monitor.

But objections have now been posed by the publishers, which include Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Random House LLC, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan.

In their motion, the publishers said the settlement would effectively eliminate Apple’s ability to enter agreements allowing for discounts by eliminating for five years its use of so-called agency agreements, in which publishers set prices and Apple gets a commission.

As a result, the publishers say the proposals don’t impose any limitation on Apple’s pricing behavior and instead “effectively punish” publishers by preventing them from entering into agency agreements with the iPad manufacturer.

The publishers say the Justice Department’s proposal conflicts with their own settlements with the government, which allowed them, with certain limitations, to enter into agency deals with retailers.

A spokesman for Apple declined comment.

“The proposed settlement with Apple, if approved by the court, would prohibit Apple from entering agreements that limit retail price competition during a reset period,” said a spokeswoman for the Justice Department in an email. “The proposed relief does not modify the terms of the settlements we reached with the publisher defendants.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Sprint and T-Mobile offer further price discounts

Sprint unveiled a plan on Thursday that gives subscribers access to unlimited data for $60 a month, the industry's cheapest unlimited data offering.

National

Hundreds pay it forward at Florida Starbucks in…

The spontaneous chain of kindness continued for about 11 hours, totaling 457 transactions by the time it ended.

National

Weather system east of Caribbean could turn into…

An area of low pressure located east of the Caribbean Sea has a 50 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or storm in the next 48 hours, U.S. forecasters…

National

U.S. hospital to discharge doctor treated with experimental…

An American doctor who contracted Ebola treating victims of the deadly virus in Liberia has recovered and will be discharged on Thursday by the Atlanta hospital that treated him with…

Movies

Review: 'When the Game Stands Tall' is both…

The high school football saga "When the Game Stands Tall" fumbles around for a focus while Jim Caviezel offers the most low-key coach in history.

Movies

Girlfriend in a coma: Chloe Grace Moretz

Chloe Grace Moretz is the best cheerleader "If I Stay" could ask for. As the star of the film adaptation of the successful YA novel…

The Word

The Word: Summer lovin' for Zac Efron and…

Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance between…

The Word

The Word: The Zac Efron-Michelle Rodriguez summer fling…

  Ah, the summer romance. So intense, so fleeting. With Labor Day fast approaching, it should come as little surprise that the incredibly surprising romance…

NFL

Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.

NFL

Jets vs. Giants: 3 Jets storylines to watch

Metro looks at three Jets storylines to watch as they play the Giants Friday.

NFL

Giants expected to work Corey Washington into first-team…

The day of reckoning for the Giants' fringe players will fall upon them Friday night against the Jets.

Sex

Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…

Sex

Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…

Wellbeing

Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…

Tech

Siren: A new dating app that puts women…

Online dating can be brutal, especially for single women. Noting that many women hate wading through inappropriate messages and photos, two tech entrepreneurs decided to…