Australian government may also sue Apple over e-book pricing

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014


The Australian government has begun urging retailers with concerns about e-book price fixing to file formal complaints, as it considers its own lawsuit against Apple and book publishers.



The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has advised retailers to raise any concerns related to the local market, according to the Financial Review. The commission declined to say whether there is an ongoing investigation against Apple or the five book publishers targeted this week in a suit by the U.S. Department of Justice.



"The ACCC has previously stated that impediments to emerging competition involving online traders is an area of priority," a spokesperson said. "Competition concerns may arise where traders seek to restrict the discounting of products by way of respective arrangements with suppliers. Retailers with concerns should raise them with the ACCC."



The U.S. DOJ filed suit against Apple on Wednesday, officially charging it and five book publishers of price fixing and collusion. Three of the book publishers — Simon & Schuster, Hachette and HarperCollins — settled their cases, while Apple and two publishers — Penguin and Macmillan — have fought the DOJ's claims.



The justice department first warned Apple and publishers in March that it had taken issue with Apple's alleged role in convincing publishers to switch to an "agency model" for sales, rather than the "wholesale model" Amazon had used on its own Kindle store. Previously, publishers would sell their books at wholesale and Amazon repeatedly upset publishers by selling titles at a loss.











If the ACCC does pursue action against Apple, it would be the second time this year that the commission has set the iPad maker in its sights. In March, the government watchdog group accused Apple of "misleading" customers into thinking its newest iPad runs at fast 4G LTE speeds in Australia, while LTE connectivity for the device is actually restricted to North America.



Apple responded by updating its online store in Australia with more prominent text informing consumers that the 4G version of the new iPad does not work with LTE networks in Australia. The company also sent out an e-mail to Australian customers offering them a full refund if they are unhappy with their new iPad.



[ View article on AppleInsider ]

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 64
    isheldonisheldon Posts: 570member
    Everyone wants a bite of Apple now. The vultures are attacking.
  • Reply 2 of 64
    enjournienjourni Posts: 254member
    Wow aussie government really seems to hate apple lol.
  • Reply 3 of 64
    irnchrizirnchriz Posts: 1,581member
    Expect this to be adopted around the world. Government finances are in a shit state so they will happily sue the likes of Apple for all they can get. Ultimately the consumer will pay the cost through higher product prices over time.
  • Reply 4 of 64
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Apple has more money than any of these governments, so now they want a piece of the pie.



    It's the same as when Apple was small enough to concern itself with other companies. But they're over that.
  • Reply 5 of 64
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    The walled garden can be a double edged sword. Apple was never going to get away with that pricing model. You win some you lose some, but they should have seen this coming.
  • Reply 6 of 64
    retail price maintenance has been illegal in Australia for many years...however, it is always curious how pricing becomes amazingly similar.



    banks, petrol, print books...consider school textbooks..all pricing is within a few dollars of each other!

    and the online versions are about $17 per year..same as US calculation $15USD...



    but print texts are mostly $65AUD or $75AUD with discounts of up to 30% from bookselelrs..there is the price manipulation!



    ACC get stuck into that...and petrol pricing..and LPG..and bread..and milk..

    (jumped 18 cents in one weekend for all suppliers!? How so?)



    cartels and monopolies are over..

    apple has a monopoly situation with iTunes and ePubs

    the set nature of the 30% and the idea of APPs being in a market suggest it is no different to paperbacks where every publisher has 412.99 $15.99 or $21.99 as their price point..no-one has ever attempted to explain that apart from removing price as a factor in purchasing..

    no different in the iTS..may not like it



    ISP pricing is also amazingly similar!..apart from Telstra which takes advantage of their extra coverage and charges a premium

    try buying an apple notebook..the landed cost is quite different to the retail price

    and smart phone handsets..etc..



    unless ACC is intending to limit the retail margin( maybe an enforceable idea) it is in the same realm as mining

    charge what the market will bear..if the consumers don't like it they will not buy

    no signs of that happening!
  • Reply 7 of 64
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by enjourni View Post


    Wow aussie government really seems to hate apple lol.



    Apple should show them it means business and pull out of Australia completely. Apple wouldn't hardly feel any pain, but the Aussies would learn a hard lesson: Don't fuck with Apple!
  • Reply 8 of 64
    bongobongo Posts: 158member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by iSheldon View Post


    Everyone wants a bite of Apple now. The vultures are attacking.



    Take off your Apple fanboi hat for a second and look at this objectively.



    The evidence that the Justice department has gathered is pretty serious and damning against Apple.



    They conspired with all the major Publishers to fix prices of new ebooks at 12.99 to 14.99. Apple has smart lawyers. They know this is illegal under anti-trust regulations in the US ( and in most other Western countries).



    Apple should get sued by every country in which consumers were affected. If Apple is found guilt by the courts, then they should pay a fine that is equal to their gain from their illegal actions plus punitive damages.



    Price fixing is anti competitive, anti consumer, and anti capitalistic.
  • Reply 9 of 64
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bongo View Post


    Take off your Apple fanboi hat for a second and look at this objectively.



    The evidence that the Justice department has gathered is pretty serious and damning against Apple.



    They conspired with all the major Publishers to fix prices of new ebooks at 12.99 to 14.99. Apple has smart lawyers. They know this is illegal under anti-trust regulations in the US ( and in most other Western countries).



    Apple should get sued by every country in which consumers were affected. If Apple is found guilt by the courts, then they should pay a fine that is equal to their gain from their illegal actions plus punitive damages.



    Price fixing is anti competitive, anti consumer, and anti capitalistic.





    http://www.amazon.com/Fifty-Shades-D...4236583&sr=1-2



    http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/fift...09841099?mt=11
  • Reply 10 of 64
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    Expect this to be adopted around the world. Government finances are in a shit state so they will happily sue the likes of Apple for all they can get. Ultimately the consumer will pay the cost through higher product prices over time.



    Australia is doing rather well, you see we sell rocks to China, they make stuff and sell it to you.
  • Reply 11 of 64
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    Your links don't necessarily disprove his point (which I don't necessarily agree with but for other reasons). The prices may not be 12.99-14.99 (they may be if he is not in the US of course) but that doesn't prove or disprove any sort of allegations of price fixings.



    Of course there is a reason we don't judge cases purely on what one side says. Any case looks damning if you go solely based on what the government says.
  • Reply 12 of 64
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    The walled garden can be a double edged sword. Apple was never going to get away with that pricing model. You win some you lose some, but they should have seen this coming.



    Apple was never going to get away with a perfectly legal agency model?
  • Reply 13 of 64
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,261member


    In another thread much earlier today I pointed out to you that particular book was self-published and not from one of the 5 publishers accused of price-fixing. 50 Shades can be sold for whatever the retailer wishes. Of course that doesn't mean you can't continue making believe it's proof that the price-fixing never occurred. Wouldn't it more honest of you to find one from one of the accused publisher's if you think you have proof that no prices have been fixed?
  • Reply 14 of 64
    newbeenewbee Posts: 2,055member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Apple was never going to get away with a perfectly legal agency model?



    This! ++
  • Reply 15 of 64
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by irnchriz View Post


    Expect this to be adopted around the world. Government finances are in a shit state so they will happily sue the likes of Apple for all they can get. Ultimately the consumer will pay the cost through higher product prices over time.



    Maybe. On the other hand, the price of my Kindle e-books have risen by 30-50% since Apple entered the market, so it seems more plausible that this will reduce product prices over time.
  • Reply 16 of 64
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Apple was never going to get away with a perfectly legal agency model?



    An agency model allows the publisher, not the retailer, to set prices. This is legal, however the stipulation that no one can sell it for less on another online store is where it gets sticky. In my opinion they should have left that part out. On the app store that aspect is built in because App Store apps only work on iOS and can only be sold on the Apple App Store.



    If they had just left it alone and let the market find the right price on it's own, everything would have worked out fine. If the iOS versions of the book were not selling as well as they wanted then the publishers would lower the price. Apple would always get 30% and everyone is happy. If Amazon wants to sell below cost then they are the ones that would be in the DOJ's crosshairs.
  • Reply 17 of 64
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,153member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Apple was never going to get away with a perfectly legal agency model?



    If Apple used the whole sale model and sold ebooks at price lower that Amazon then they will say Apple is trying to crush the competition.



    And you know.. it was OK for Amazon to threaten book publishers and use their market position in the books business to gain control in ebook business.
  • Reply 18 of 64
    jukesjukes Posts: 213member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    An agency model allows the publisher, not the retailer, to set prices. This is legal, however the stipulation that no one can sell it for less on another online store is where it gets sticky. In my opinion they should have left that part out. On the app store that aspect is built in because App Store apps only work on iOS and can only be sold on the Apple App Store.



    If they had just left it alone and let the market find the right price on it's own, everything would have worked out fine. If the iOS versions of the book were not selling as well as they wanted then the publishers would lower the price. Apple would always get 30% and everyone is happy. If Amazon wants to sell below cost then they are the ones that would be in the DOJ's crosshairs.



    At least in the US, the contract is perfectly legal.



    The issue here is that Apple is alleged to have conspired with the 5 major publishers to raise the prices of e-books across the board. The contract is the (legal) mechanism by which this was implemented. From the DoJ complaint, and the fact that three of them have already agreed to a settlement, there seems little doubt that the publishers colluded during negotiations.



    It's less clear that Apple "colluded" in the same way, we'll find out with the outcome of the current DoJ complaint.
  • Reply 19 of 64
    isheldonisheldon Posts: 570member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


    Apple was never going to get away with a perfectly legal agency model?



    Colluding with providers of goods by price fixing is legal now? Say wha?



    Quote:

    and Apple, which was about to introduce its iPad to the market, insisted on the ?most favored nation? clause. That clause came under scrutiny by the Justice Department.




    http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.co...-book-pricing/
  • Reply 20 of 64
    nasseraenasserae Posts: 3,153member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mstone View Post


    An agency model allows the publisher, not the retailer, to set prices. This is legal, however the stipulation that no one can sell it for less on another online store is where it gets sticky. In my opinion they should have left that part out. On the app store that aspect is built in because App Store apps only work on iOS and can only be sold on the Apple App Store.



    This is not true. In the lawsuit itself the DoJ said Apple condition was that APPLE have the right to LOWER the price to match anyone else and still take their 30% cut.
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