DoJ reportedly planning antitrust suit against Apple, publishers over e-books

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Comments

  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Huh (and which ones were the anti-Apple tirades)? This is the DoJ's opinion



    Since you're backing the DOJ, you must have some reason. I'm still waiting for you to explain what you think Apple has done wrong.



    Unless, of course, your position is simply to take the side of anyone who attacks Apple for any reason. That seems more like your style.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    BTW, I had asked you before if you were a lawyer. You leave readers with the impression you are. If so, what's your specialty?



    I'm not a lawyer and never claimed to be a lawyer. Nor have I ever given anyone the impression that I am.



    I am, however, conversant with the law as it pertains to business due to my background of running various businesses. I guess that makes me a world expert compared to 99.5% of the people posting here - including you.
  • anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 17,386member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post


    But you can be bothered enough to bash others for posting links? Preposterous!



    You are just being argumentative here. I gave you the summary in my original post. It is as plain as day.



    1) I specifically referred to Ron Paul, a politician. And a medical doctor.



    2) You gave no summary: you simply asserted that they say antitrust laws should be repealed because they are harmful and unnecessary. Take the time to give us a gist of their arguments as to why they think that?
  • pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Here's how I see it:



    If I'm not mistaken, things get fishy when a manufacturer/publisher/etc dictates the price a reseller sells a product for, especially when they get all of their competitors to do the same. That's generally lumped under price fixing. Usually, prices are suggested, a la MSRP. But when you get all the main players to gang up and force resellers to sell at a certain price, that can get illegal.



    Ironically, this move potentially saved the industry. So do the ends justify the means? Is iBooks considered a reseller? Common sense says that Amazon's traditional approach was harming competition, not the other way around. Anti-trust laws are supposed to protect the market. Did this violate the letter of the law, but maybe not the spirit?



    Either way, likely the brunt of this is directed at the publishers, but by being an accomplice, Apple could also be guilty.
  • waldobushmanwaldobushman Posts: 774member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post


    Apple charging more to pay the publishers more is not the anti-competitive issue here. But Apple also attempted to control what the publishers could charge for their books through other retailers. Remember, MS was determined to be a monopoly, so you can't really compare the two anit-trust cases. This potential case is not about an abuse of a monopoly because neither Apple nor any one individual publisher is in a monopoly position, but about collusion and price fixing.



    If you go back to when iBooks was first unveiled and we learned of the terms Apple arranged, myself and others suspected that this type of arrangement might get Apple into hot water. I'm really not surprised at all that this has gotten the attention of the DoJ.



    "Me too" clauses are common and certainly not anti-competitive. And, your characterization that the "me too" clause controlling what other retailers were charged is not accurate. Publishers could charge other retailers whatever they wanted, but they had to give Apple the same deal.



    As for pricing that book purchasers pay, nothing is fixed here either. The publisher says that they need, say $12 for a title. That is what the publisher gets from the retailer. The retailer is free to charge whatever they want, probably including taking a loss on the deal, like Amazon was doing before Apple.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,263member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Since you're backing the DOJ, you must have some reason. I'm still waiting for you to explain what you think Apple has done wrong.



    Unless, of course, your position is simply to take the side of anyone who attacks Apple for any reason. That seems more like your style.







    I'm not a lawyer and never claimed to be a lawyer. Nor have I ever given anyone the impression that I am.



    I am, however, conversant with the law as it pertains to business due to my background of running various businesses. I guess that makes me a world expert compared to 99.5% of the people posting here - including you.



    So neither of us is qualified (or just as qualified) to make a legal judgement then since I too have run a couple of businesses and owned two others. Still do as a matter of fact.



    Perhaps you missed that I didn't originate the article here at AI, nor the one at the WSJ. I suppose that makes them guilty of an anti-Apple tirade too?



    FWIW, I already explained what I personally think the problem is. Simply read my previous post where Steve Jobs is quoted. Does it bring it up to the level of an anti-trust sui? I have no idea nor am I any more qualified to say than you are. We aren't going to bring up reading comprehension again are we?
  • jdwjdw Posts: 391member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    1) I specifically referred to Ron Paul, a politician.



    Indeed. And you also condemned me as a shill, which by definition assumes I am associated with the man somehow but trying to cover it up. Again I say, "preposterous!"



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    2) You gave no summary: you simply asserted that they say antitrust laws should be repealed because they are harmful and unnecessary. Take the time to give us a gist of their arguments as to why they think that?



    I gave a one sentence summary, which is sufficient for most reasonable people to determine if they should watch the video or not. Your persistence in beating on me goes a long way to explain why you average 4 posts per day, every single day of the year. You appear to gain tremendous satisfaction by arguing endlessly about frivolous matters. If you want more information, just watch the video. Then if you like or dislike what you see, we can then have an "informed" argument. If you are frightened to click on a link, then Google about it first to ensure I am not planting a sinister virus on your computer! But I will not entertain you further with arguments over why my "summary" is unacceptable to you personally.





    I disagree with the DOJ stance against Apple because I disagree with Anti-Trust laws in general. I disagree with Anti-Trust laws on the basis of what I have already said; namely, that they do more harm than good. If such were my personal opinion, it would matter little. But there are economic experts out there who support free markets and who do not support current Anti-Trust laws in the United States. It is at times like this that we would do well to ponder whether we need these laws or not.



    To quote Prof. Armentano in the video, "The source of monopoly is governmental power."



    Once again, here is the video link:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?do...78685983789002



    Again, I posted this link to simulate thought on whether we really need Anti-Trust laws. I personally feel we don't. And my personal feelings have nothing to do with Apple. This article simply served as a means to stimulate my interest in posting on the subject.
  • waldobushmanwaldobushman Posts: 774member
    Though not directly on point for this story, there is a general pattern of anti-competitiveness in how the courts support and balance the definitions of monopoly.



    Too often, the courts simply look at the cost to consumers to determine if a merge of competitors is acceptable. If it can be argued that the consumer will not pay more or will pay less after the merger, then the merge can proceed, all else being equal. The merger, by definition then, decreases the number of competitors in the economy, often leading to job layoffs, and increase control of an area to a shrinking number of players, and less alternatives for those wishing to purchase products and services.



    I might be in the minority, but I find being referred to as a "consumer" quite derogatory. I'm a producer, and I want to charge and be paid fairly for my product. I want my prices to be set in negotiation with my ultimate customers, not by a middle man who sets the prices and controls access to my customers.



    The agency model allows me that. This is no different from using real estate agencies to help sell your house. You set the price, and each agency works on your behalf to sell the house, and they take a cut. The price you set for your house is the same for all potential buyers, regardless of the real estate agency that is hawking your house. The cut for each agency might be different, they may be offering better or worse services for their cut, but ultimately, agency which is better at finding me buyer gets the cut.
  • island hermitisland hermit Posts: 6,217member
    Where the hell was Apple legal when these agreements were drawn up. Surely Apple must have one lawyer on hand who is proficient with anti-trust law.



    I do think there might be a case against Apple and the publishers just by the fact that there is a clause that states the publishers can't sell the books at a lower price in any other place. Take that out and there is nothing, imo.
  • anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Yet you're suggesting that Apple has done something illegal. I'm not asking what charges the DoJ will file, I'm asking you to provide the justification for your endless anti-Apple tirades. What laws do you believe that Apple has broken?



    [insult removed]
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post


    Here's how I see it:



    If I'm not mistaken, things get fishy when a manufacturer/publisher/etc dictates the price a reseller sells a product for, especially when they get all of their competitors to do the same. That's generally lumped under price fixing. Usually, prices are suggested, a la MSRP. But when you get all the main players to gang up and force resellers to sell at a certain price, that can get illegal.



    Ironically, this move potentially saved the industry. So do the ends justify the means? Is iBooks considered a reseller? Common sense says that Amazon's traditional approach was harming competition, not the other way around. Anti-trust laws are supposed to protect the market. Did this violate the letter of the law, but maybe not the spirit?



    Either way, likely the brunt of this is directed at the publishers, but by being an accomplice, Apple could also be guilty.



    The problem with your argument is that Apple doesn't dictate the price. In fact, Amazon is the one who was dictating a price.



    Now, your argument is an interesting one - it is true that the publisher can not dictate the price that the distributor sells the product for, but if that is the problem, then DOJ should be going after the publishers, not Apple. But that's not going to get anywhere. The publisher is not dictating the price to Apple. Instead, Apple is simply making their markup known to the world - which is entirely legal.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    So neither of us is qualified (or just as qualified) to make a legal judgement then since I too have run a couple of businesses and owned two others. Still do as a matter of fact.



    Whether that's true or not, the difference is that you apparently never learned anything about the law - at least based on what you've been posting here.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Perhaps you missed that I didn't originate the article here at AI, nor the one at the WSJ. I suppose that makes them guilty of an anti-Apple tirade too?



    FWIW, I already explained what I personally think the problem is. Simply read my previous post where Steve Jobs is quoted. Does it bring it up to the level of an anti-trust sui? I have no idea nor am I any more qualified to say than you are. We aren't going to bring up reading comprehension again are we?



    You're talking out of both sides of your mouth. On one hand, you say "it's not my argument, it's the DOJ's argument, so don't ask me to justify it". On the other hand you say "I've already explained what I think the problem is". So which is it?



    And since you're claiming to have presented your views on what you think the problem is, then you should be able to tell us exactly what laws you think Apple has broken.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,263member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post






    You're talking out of both sides of your mouth. On one hand, you say "it's not my argument, it's the DOJ's argument, so don't ask me to justify it". On the other hand you say "I've already explained what I think the problem is". So which is it?



    And since you're claiming to have presented your views on what you think the problem is, then you should be able to tell us exactly what laws you think Apple has broken.



    I have a hard time believing you truly have a problem with reading comprehension. If your post really is on the up-n-up and not simply arguing to argue, slowly reread my last answer. It's all there.
  • anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member
    Mainly, what we learn from this article is that either,



    a) the lawyers in anti-trust at the DoJ are fools (perhaps all those political hacks hired by the previous administration), or



    b) that Amazon has bought themselves enough influence in Washington to have the Feds go to court to prop them up.



    I think it's a 50/50 chance either way.
  • anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,558member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    I have a hard time believing you truly have a problem with reading comprehension. If your post really is on the up-n-up and not simply arguing to argue, slowly reread my last answer. It's all there.



    Clever rhetorical maneuver on GG's part. Notice how he avoids the direct question with the implication that he's already answered it. This is an excellent move when you're cornered with contradicting yourself and need a good diversionary tactic.
  • jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    I have a hard time believing you truly have a problem with reading comprehension. If your post really is on the up-n-up and not simply arguing to argue, slowly reread my last answer. It's all there.



    Which one of your self-contradictory positions do you want me to rely on?



    And considering that you haven't yet given any specific laws that you think Apple has broken (and refuse to do so even when asked repeatedly), it's rather moot. The answer must be that your position is purely based on supporting anyone who attacks Apple regardless of the facts of the matter.
  • anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 17,386member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post


    Indeed. And you also condemned me as a shill, which by definition assumes I am associated with the man somehow but trying to cover it up. Again I say, "preposterous!"



    I did assume that you were associated with the man (not that I have anything against him; just a politician thing on my part), and that was unwarranted on my part. If, as you say, you were not, I apologize.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JDW View Post


    I disagree with the DOJ stance against Apple because I disagree with Anti-Trust laws in general. I disagree with Anti-Trust laws on the basis of what I have already said; namely, that they do more harm than good. If such were my personal opinion, it would matter little. But there are economic experts out there who support free markets and who do not support current Anti-Trust laws in the United States. It is at times like this that we would do well to ponder whether we need these laws or not.



    To quote Prof. Armentano in the video, "The source of monopoly is governmental power."



    Antitrust laws are simply a means by which regulation seeks to level the playing field for consumers to move towards economists' ideal that in a truly competitive marketplace, price should equal marginal cost (since that maximizes social welfare).



    It is, in principle (at least as I understand it), a means for regulators to attempt to achieve allocative efficiency in the marketplace. They may or may not achieve that in practice (or may overstep their authority) but I do not find much to quarrel with the underlying ideal. Indeed, a vast majority of economists would probably agree with that position. We also know that this US institutional innovation has been widely adopted the world over (along with two other innovations: the SEC and the Fed, both of which also, I happen to agree with in principle).



    To say that source of monopoly is governmental power is a stretch. Are you -- is he -- saying that there are no natural monopolies? That private producers cannot have power over consumers that can be detrimental?



    PS: You may wish to reconsider your own slam when you say: "Your persistence in beating on me goes a long way to explain why you average 4 posts per day, every single day of the year. You appear to gain tremendous satisfaction by arguing endlessly about frivolous matters." Or, at least, have the courtesy to explain what: (i) The number of my posts have to do with anything at all; (ii) Other than for a normal quota of posts that are meant to be obviously frivolous (usually followed by a smiley or a /s, etc; and probably no different from that of the typical poster here) what you see as being "endlessly frivolous" in my posts.
  • maestro64maestro64 Posts: 3,143member
    A few people already made similar comments, IF the DoJ is going after Apple and the publisher for this then should going at a lot of other industries for similar practices. Hell they should have gone after Apple a long time ago, We all know that you can not buy a new apple product which they are current marketing for a lower cost anyway. All retail outlets who sell Apple products are require to sell at the price that Apple tells them they must sell at. The government can not tell a company what price they must sell a product at nor can they keep company from striking deals to ensure their product is always sold at a particular price.



    The fact that Apple offered the publishers a better business model to sell their products is not against any law either. Now if the Publisher choose to renegotiate their deals with other retail out lets that is their choose as well.



    Yes the publisher hated the fact Amazon was giving away books as lost leader which brought in more customers. The publisher had no real power over this since we all know they always over product books and Amazon was always more than ready to take them off their hands and move them at what ever price got them out the door.



    Well the world has change, you can not over produce Ebooks, so now the publisher do not have to worry about fire sales to get rid of them and they can not have more control over what price their products are sold for.



    So now Amazon and others are upset that some came in and changed the business model on them and they do not know how to compete anymore, ah it sounds like the music industry. In this case the Publisher were smart enough to get ahead of the curve before all the value in their product gets destroyed.



    The other part of this which I do not quite understand when it comes to pricing fixing, this usually applies to a product which multiply companies make the same product, like gasoline, where everyone is charging the exact same price for the the exact same product. In the Case of a book, only one publisher products a book, so if want Steve Jobs book you can shop around to different publisher to get the best price. How can the DoJ claim pricing fixing. Also when new books came out many time they were $19.99 or $29.99 does that mean over the years all publishers agree to see a new book for that price. No, it just how retail pricing is done.



    It will be interesting to see the outcome of this one to see how the government justifies their legal position on this case.
  • gatorguygatorguy Posts: 15,263member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    Which one of your self-contradictory positions do you want me to rely on?



    And considering that you haven't yet given any specific laws that you think Apple has broken (and refuse to do so even when asked repeatedly), it's rather moot. The answer must be that your position is purely based on supporting anyone who attacks Apple regardless of the facts of the matter.



    I guess you really are having a hard time following along. Here's all my opinions on the matter that I've posted so far:



    From post 27: When the investigation is terminated, and if Apple and the publishers haven't already offered to make changes to avoid any possible charges, then you'll see what the EU/US has in mind. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps a high-profile antitrust lawsuit, maybe even on both continents.



    From post 30: Unfortunate that the quotes were directly attributed to Mr. Jobs and frankly I'm darn surprised that he saw no issues with the plan. In hindsight, colluding with publishers to set prices and deny other seller's the right to market books at their own prices should be an obvious red flag to Apple. Perhaps not the best decision if they had it to do over IMHO



    From post 46: Does it bring it up to the level of an anti-trust sui(t)? I have no idea nor am I any more qualified to say than you are.



    These are the only opinions I've offered on how I see the issues. Which one of those are contradictory sir?
  • pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


    The problem with your argument is that Apple doesn't dictate the price. In fact, Amazon is the one who was dictating a price.



    Now, your argument is an interesting one - it is true that the publisher can not dictate the price that the distributor sells the product for, but if that is the problem, then DOJ should be going after the publishers, not Apple. But that's not going to get anywhere. The publisher is not dictating the price to Apple. Instead, Apple is simply making their markup known to the world - which is entirely legal.



    Note, in my argument, Apple equals the reseller, who has every right to set the price. However, it is the publisher who is fixing the price for not just one, but resellers in general. Note also, this in and of itself may not be illegal, but colluding with all the other major publishers may well be illegal.



    Apple's markup is in no way illegal, but by being part of the alleged collusion, they could be in effect an accomplice, much like you can be an accessory to murder.



    Again, my position is that this was essential for the survival of an industry, so how does this fit with the spirit of the law? Then again, are publishers really worth saving? With the advent of eBooks, eventually they will be as defunct as the music studios.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by jarroyo1031 View Post


    I'm glad this is happening. If the DOJ is right, then Apple and the publishers deserve what they get. If there is no truth to what the DOJ is alleging, then the matter will be resolved quickly. It makes no difference to me what ends up happening since I have not invested in Apple. I'm curious to see how this ends up turning out since the DOJ tends to win when they sue.



    The purpose of antitrust laws is to preserve a competitive marketplace. The purpose of a competitive marketplace is ultimately to provide the best products to consumers at the lowest prices.



    The DOJ is on OUR side. These huge megacorporations are free to do what they want, so long as they don't abuse their power in a manner which hurts people like you and me.



    We should all be glad that the DOJ is looking into this. They are not our enemy - big corporations who collude to get rid of competition are our enemy.
  • Quote:
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post


    I find it truly rich that they think a Publisher delaying a digital book to allow a hardbound book to get some traction is somehow illegal.



    The Publisher always dictates whether it's hardbound, paperback and/or digital. Sorry but there is no teeth on that.



    I'm pretty sure that you know a lot more than the DOJ about the relevant law.



    I think that you should call them on the phone and explain things to them so that they don't waste any more time.



    /s
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