US DOJ points to Steve Jobs email as 'smoking gun' in e-book trial [Update: email was draft]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
An email from late Apple cofounder Steve Jobs is being used by the U.S. Department of Justice to suggest the company was leaning on book publishers to push Amazon to the agency model, a main contention of the government in its e-book antitrust suit.

In what is being called a "smoking gun," the Justice Department on Wednesday presented the email in an attempt to prove Apple was complicit in colluding with major book publishers to fix the price of e-books sold through the iBookstore, reports Fortune.

"I can live with this, as long as they move Amazon to the agent model too for new releases for the first year," Jobs wrote. "If they don't, I'm not sure we can be competetive?"

The note was a response to SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue regarding a request from publishers that sales prices be raised in the then fluid contract negotiations.

Jobs email


Up to this point, Apple has contended it was indifferent to the publishers' deals with Amazon, which at the time were based on the wholesale model. Under that strategy, content owners sell properties to retailers, which can then price the e-books at or below cost to drive sales.

Counter to wholesale was Apple's agency model. Using a most favored nations clause, agency put control back into the hands of publishers by allowing them to set prices on e-books as long as they didn't sell the same content elsewhere for less.

Over the course of last week's proceedings, U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote heard testimony from book publishing executives that seemingly lined up with Apple's assertions of non-collusion. Even one of the DOJ's witnesses, Google Thomas Turvey, faltered on the stand as he failed to name a single publishing executive who supposedly told him Apple required conformity with the agency model in its contracts. The allegations were part of Turvey's he written testimony.

The Jobs email was inserted into the Just Department's case in the final hour of testimony on Wednesday, when Apple's iBookstore head Keith Moerer was on the stand. DOJ lawyer Dan McCuaig asked Moerer if the letter reflected "indifference" to publishers' Amazon dealings, to which the Apple executive said, "No."

As a curious follow-up, Apple's lead counsel Orin Snyder asked Moerer if he was aware that the email was never sent. The DOJ snapped to object, and Snyder's question was stricken from the record. It seems that there is much more to the email than was presented by the government.

More information regarding the email will likely come to light on Thursday, when Eddy Cue is scheduled to testify.

Update: According to AllThingsD, the email from Jobs submitted into evidence today was a draft of a message which was never sent. In the actual correspondence, a copy of which Apple filed following Wednesday's proceedings, there was no mention of a plan to push Amazon to agency and Jobs actually recognized that wholesale pricing may continue.

Also in the final version of the email sent to Eddy Cue, Jobs expresses concern that Apple may get the short end of the stick when it came to content costs, which was one of the main reasons MFN was applied in its contracts with book publishers.

Jobs Final
Source: AllThingsD


It is unclear how the DOJ will deal with the new document, though it is likely that it will argue the draft showed Jobs' intent despite it not ever being sent. Whether that's enough to sway Judge Cote has yet to be seen, though the government's assertions today may carry less weight in light of the new evidence.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 85
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member


    From the email:-


     


    "...each publisher can choose a lower price if they want."


     


    "...lowering the price while the book is on the NYT Bestseller List. This will be hard to get... ...but we should try."


     


    Smoking gun, my arse.


     


    Apple has done nothing wrong and will be exonerated.

  • Reply 2 of 85
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,142member
    The DOJ can go **** itself. Digging up emails from a dead person when he isn't around to defend himself, or clarify his context. Even with no context, this email is nowhere near a "smoking gun".
  • Reply 3 of 85
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,687member
    The fact the DOJ objected to "was this email sent" question tells me something. If no one else saw the email or if there are no threads pertaining to the email, how can it be evidence.
  • Reply 4 of 85
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,115member
    "If they don't, I'm not sure we can be competetive…"

    Sounds to me the options were open but Apple (through Jobs) hoped as heck it went agency model. Sounds reasonable to me. How much did Bezos donate to the DoJ?
  • Reply 5 of 85
    netroxnetrox Posts: 739member
    wheres the smoking gun?
  • Reply 6 of 85


    You mean the government is reading Mr. Jobs email.....isn't that illegal..isn't that a violation of his 2nd amendent rights.

  • Reply 7 of 85
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    fast fred wrote: »
    You mean the government is reading Mr. Jobs email.....isn't that illegal..isn't that a violation of his 2nd amendent rights.

    ... Subtle. I really like this.
  • Reply 8 of 85
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,650member


    The current DOJ is corrupt as all hell. I question their competence and I question their motives.

  • Reply 9 of 85
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,062member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


    The current DOJ is corrupt as all hell. I question their competence and I question their motives.



     


    Eric Holder is watching you now.

  • Reply 10 of 85
    hill60hill60 Posts: 6,989member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Slurpy View Post



    The DOJ can go **** itself. Digging up emails from a dead person when he isn't around to defend himself, or clarify his context. Even with no context, this email is nowhere near a "smoking gun".


     


    Apparently the DoJ are using this to infer "intent".


     


    "Thought crimes" are here, it looks like Orwell was out by three decades.

  • Reply 11 of 85
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,650member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post


     


    Eric Holder is watching you now.



     


    I wouldn't doubt it. Calls are getting logged and collected, email communications are being intercepted and I will be deploying additional encryption methods very soon in order to protect myself from unwanted intrusion by hostile forces.

  • Reply 12 of 85
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,152member
    Quite thin. And ridiculous.

    What a waste of taxpayer resources.
  • Reply 13 of 85
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,457member
    apple ][ wrote: »
    I wouldn't doubt it. Calls are getting logged and collected, email communications are being intercepted and I will be deploying additional encryption methods very soon in order to protect myself from unwanted intrusion by hostile forces.

    If they are looking into me here, it's for crimes against the English language. Guilty as charged.
  • Reply 14 of 85
    The DoJ case is based on a wholly fallacious assumption that the Agency model is anti-competitive. Wholesalers of books (like Amazon) add absolutely no value to the book other than allowing it to be distributed widely, just as wholesalers of software and music add absolutely no value to the software and music other than allowing it to be distributed widely.

    So by banning use of the Agency model for books, which just adds a small fixed percentage of the price set be the author to cover the infrastructure to distribute the book electronically to a global customer base, means that the DoJ can ban the operation of all global electronic resource distribution businesses, including the App store and iTunes stores, just to protect the interests of parasitic wholesale businesses of companies like Amazon.

    This DoJ action must not be allowed to succeed.

  • Reply 15 of 85
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,854member


    How exactly is expressing an opinion on pricing to someone else in YOUR company, colluding with the book publishers?

  • Reply 16 of 85
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,457member
    Quite thin. And ridiculous.

    What a waste of taxpayer resources.

    No matter how it turns out, I'm happy Apple has the chops to stand ground instead of bowing to intimidation and settling just to cut the costs.
  • Reply 17 of 85
    christophbchristophb Posts: 1,457member
    mjtomlin wrote: »
    How exactly is expressing an opinion on pricing to someone else in YOUR company, colluding with the book publishers?

    And if he never hit send, how does not communicating become conspiracy? Hill60's thought crime comment rings true.
  • Reply 18 of 85
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,062member

    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post



    Quite thin. And ridiculous.



    What a waste of taxpayer resources.


     


    Please keep in mind that this is not a jury trial. A judge will decide guilt or innocence. And this particular judge stated publicly that she thinks Apple is guilty before the trial even began. In my opinion this is a show trial. Apple will be found guilty no matter what. Dozens of class action lawsuits depend on Apple being guilty and so it will be found guilty.

  • Reply 19 of 85
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,121member
    How does an unsent email prove apple did anything?
  • Reply 20 of 85
    starbird73starbird73 Posts: 538member
    lkrupp wrote: »
    Please keep in mind that this is not a jury trial. A judge will decide guilt or innocence. And this particular judge stated publicly that she thinks Apple is guilty before the trial even began. In my opinion this is a show trial. Apple will be found guilty no matter what. Dozens of class action lawsuits depend on Apple being guilty and so it will be found guilty.

    Can Apple appeal? I argue they should be able to get this case thrown out. The judge already gave her opinion before the trial started.
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