Dead STEVE JOBS was a CROOK – judge

Fruity firm ruled guilty of fixing ebook prices in 2010


A US judge has found Apple guilty of conspiring with major publishers to fix the price of ebooks and has called for a trial on damages.

District Judge Denise Cote stayed true to her initial impressions of the case, and ruled that Apple had colluded with Macmillan, Hachette, Penguin, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster on digital tome prices when it entered the ebook market with its iPads in 2010.

At the time, Apple - led by its co-founder Steve Jobs who died in 2011 - was competing with tech juggernaut Amazon. The fruity firm's price fixing pushed up costs for readers, and was its attempt to eliminate its rival from the market, the judge said in the ruling.

The beak said:

The Plaintiffs have shown that the Publisher Defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy. Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the Spring of 2010.

The fruity firm now faces a trial on damages from various states, which the judge has said are entitled to injunctive relief.

All five publishers settled the case brought by the US Department of Justice before the trial, leaving only Apple alone in the dock to face charges stemming from the company's agency contracts with the bookhouses.

Before Apple came along, the ebook market was run in the same way as the ink-and-paper book market, where books were sold at a wholesale price and sellers then decided what price to charge consumers for them. Under this model, Amazon was steadily lowering the price of ebooks, choosing to sell them below cost price in order to shift its Kindle ereaders and establish dominance in the market.

Under the agency model, publishers decided the price of ebooks and sellers took a 30 per cent cut of that price. Moving to the model gave the bookhouses the ability to set prices, while most-favoured-nation clauses - which stopped them offering a better price to sellers than they'd given Apple - further homogenised prices.

Apple has always contended that being brought to court on antitrust charges was somewhat ridiculous, since its entry into the market helped to ease off Amazon's fast-developing stranglehold on the market. However, Judge Cote rejected that argument.

"This trial has not been the occasion to decide whether Amazon’s choice to sell NYT Bestsellers or other New Releases as loss leaders was an unfair trade practice or in any other way a violation of law," she said. "If it was, however, the remedy for illegal conduct is a complaint lodged with the proper law enforcement offices or a civil suit or both.

"Another company’s alleged violation of antitrust laws is not an excuse for engaging in your own violations of law. Nor is suspicion that that may be occurring a defence to the claims litigated at this trial."

Apple had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication, but the DoJ said in a statement that the result was "a victory for millions of consumers".

"After carefully weighing the evidence, the court agreed with the Justice Department and 33 state attorneys general that executives at the highest levels of Apple orchestrated a conspiracy with five major publishers to raise e-book prices," the assistant attorney general in charge of the DoJ’s antitrust division, Bill Baer, said.

"Through today’s court decision and previous settlements with five major publishers, consumers are again benefiting from retail price competition and paying less for their ebooks." ®

Bootnote

Apple has reportedly declared its intention to appeal against the guilty verdict.

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • Lonestar plans to put datacenters in the Moon's lava tubes
    How? Founder tells The Register 'Robots… lots of robots'

    Imagine a future where racks of computer servers hum quietly in darkness below the surface of the Moon.

    Here is where some of the most important data is stored, to be left untouched for as long as can be. The idea sounds like something from science-fiction, but one startup that recently emerged from stealth is trying to turn it into a reality. Lonestar Data Holdings has a unique mission unlike any other cloud provider: to build datacenters on the Moon backing up the world's data.

    "It's inconceivable to me that we are keeping our most precious assets, our knowledge and our data, on Earth, where we're setting off bombs and burning things," Christopher Stott, founder and CEO of Lonestar, told The Register. "We need to put our assets in place off our planet, where we can keep it safe."

    Continue reading
  • Conti: Russian-backed rulers of Costa Rican hacktocracy?
    Also, Chinese IT admin jailed for deleting database, and the NSA promises no more backdoors

    In brief The notorious Russian-aligned Conti ransomware gang has upped the ante in its attack against Costa Rica, threatening to overthrow the government if it doesn't pay a $20 million ransom. 

    Costa Rican president Rodrigo Chaves said that the country is effectively at war with the gang, who in April infiltrated the government's computer systems, gaining a foothold in 27 agencies at various government levels. The US State Department has offered a $15 million reward leading to the capture of Conti's leaders, who it said have made more than $150 million from 1,000+ victims.

    Conti claimed this week that it has insiders in the Costa Rican government, the AP reported, warning that "We are determined to overthrow the government by means of a cyber attack, we have already shown you all the strength and power, you have introduced an emergency." 

    Continue reading
  • China-linked Twisted Panda caught spying on Russian defense R&D
    Because Beijing isn't above covert ops to accomplish its five-year goals

    Chinese cyberspies targeted two Russian defense institutes and possibly another research facility in Belarus, according to Check Point Research.

    The new campaign, dubbed Twisted Panda, is part of a larger, state-sponsored espionage operation that has been ongoing for several months, if not nearly a year, according to the security shop.

    In a technical analysis, the researchers detail the various malicious stages and payloads of the campaign that used sanctions-related phishing emails to attack Russian entities, which are part of the state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec Corporation.

    Continue reading
  • FTC signals crackdown on ed-tech harvesting kid's data
    Trade watchdog, and President, reminds that COPPA can ban ya

    The US Federal Trade Commission on Thursday said it intends to take action against educational technology companies that unlawfully collect data from children using online educational services.

    In a policy statement, the agency said, "Children should not have to needlessly hand over their data and forfeit their privacy in order to do their schoolwork or participate in remote learning, especially given the wide and increasing adoption of ed tech tools."

    The agency says it will scrutinize educational service providers to ensure that they are meeting their legal obligations under COPPA, the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.

    Continue reading
  • Mysterious firm seeks to buy majority stake in Arm China
    Chinese joint venture's ousted CEO tries to hang on - who will get control?

    The saga surrounding Arm's joint venture in China just took another intriguing turn: a mysterious firm named Lotcap Group claims it has signed a letter of intent to buy a 51 percent stake in Arm China from existing investors in the country.

    In a Chinese-language press release posted Wednesday, Lotcap said it has formed a subsidiary, Lotcap Fund, to buy a majority stake in the joint venture. However, reporting by one newspaper suggested that the investment firm still needs the approval of one significant investor to gain 51 percent control of Arm China.

    The development comes a couple of weeks after Arm China said that its former CEO, Allen Wu, was refusing once again to step down from his position, despite the company's board voting in late April to replace Wu with two co-chief executives. SoftBank Group, which owns 49 percent of the Chinese venture, has been trying to unentangle Arm China from Wu as the Japanese tech investment giant plans for an initial public offering of the British parent company.

    Continue reading
  • SmartNICs power the cloud, are enterprise datacenters next?
    High pricing, lack of software make smartNICs a tough sell, despite offload potential

    SmartNICs have the potential to accelerate enterprise workloads, but don't expect to see them bring hyperscale-class efficiency to most datacenters anytime soon, ZK Research's Zeus Kerravala told The Register.

    SmartNICs are widely deployed in cloud and hyperscale datacenters as a means to offload input/output (I/O) intensive network, security, and storage operations from the CPU, freeing it up to run revenue generating tenant workloads. Some more advanced chips even offload the hypervisor to further separate the infrastructure management layer from the rest of the server.

    Despite relative success in the cloud and a flurry of innovation from the still-limited vendor SmartNIC ecosystem, including Mellanox (Nvidia), Intel, Marvell, and Xilinx (AMD), Kerravala argues that the use cases for enterprise datacenters are unlikely to resemble those of the major hyperscalers, at least in the near term.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022