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back to article How much will Apple cough for ebook conspiracy? Trial starts May 2014

Apple is due to face a trial on damages in summer next year, after a judge found the fruity firm guilty of conspiring with publishers to raise the price of ebooks. US District Judge Denise Cote said that if another resolution hadn't been arrived at before then, the trial would be scheduled to kick off in May 2014 to determine …

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FAIL

"Punitive"

Well, yes, you idiots. It's a punishment so of course it is 'punitive'.

Now we'll see whether humility (they settle) trumps hubris (they bloody mindedly go all the way to trial).

Of course, this _is_ Apple we're talking about, I expect hubris to rule the day.

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Re: "Punitive"

Bring on the hubris! Should provide plenty of fanbois troll-bait :-)

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Re: "Punitive"

Why would the lawyers want to back down now, they're watching the meter going around so fast the whole edifice is in danger of taking off. The only reason to slow down would be it they thought it would keep the gravy train on its wheels better.

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Black Helicopters

Re: "Punitive"

@Dazed n confused

An excellent point :o) maybe it's actually the lawyers running apple and everyone else has yet to notice !

Of course it could be some elaborate tax-fiddle to move the money from apple's bank account to the lawyers' - has anyone checked who owns the lawyers (or are they all in-house?)

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Apple has said that the government's remedy is "absurdly broad, invasive, vague, draconian and punitive".

The penalty should fit the crime and is fairly easy to figure. Apple should pay the price differential between the prior average and the new average times the number of books sold since the start of the Apple conspiracy. In addition, the board of directors should be sent to Singapore and each given twenty five strokes of the cane.

(Why yes, I do buy a lot of e-books).

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But that's not exactly a punishment now is it. By that logic if I steal a candybar and get caught, I'd only have to pay a 60p fine, rather than what is it now. £50+?

That's around a 10000% markup on the theft?

So should apples fine be the difference between the prior and current average price * number of ebooks sold since apple started the deal + 10,000%?

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Anonymous Coward

Isn't the fine for running such a cartel up to 10% of worldwide revenues?

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jai
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Apparently the calculation works out to be about 500 million bucks:

http://www.macrumors.com/2013/07/25/apple-could-owe-500-million-after-being-found-guilty-in-e-book-antitrust-case/

It's a lot of money, but it's not exactly going to cause Apple any pain, considering the mountain of cash they have in the bank.

More painful to them will be the restrictions on being able to enter into similar contracts again in the next 5 years, particularly if they're looking to expand the TV show distribution and iRadio, etc etc.

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One thing I could never understand

How could anyone think that an agreement which basically said "You are not allowed to give this price or better to a competitor" could EVER be anything but a price fixing arrangement...

As that particular clause came from Apple, I say puncish the hell out of them. Every person who bought an ebook off them for that period gets half the cost of the book refunded in CASH. Plus maybe a little bit extra for the government (they get sulky when they dont get any money out of a deal). That should about cover it right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: One thing I could never understand

"How could anyone think that an agreement which basically said "You are not allowed to give this price or better to a competitor" could EVER be anything but a price fixing arrangement..."

Because scumbag companies have been leading up to that level (restrictive competitive pricing contracts) for a very long time; they have only been doing it serendipitously

Bose Corporation, for example, has been doing this type of regulated pricing structure since the 1980's (how do I know? I was a dealer once...). They only do so under a different guise: the 'unwritten rule'.

Back in the 80's and 90's, you could only advertise Bose products using Bose pre-authorized ad copy AND, if you insisted on actually printing a price in the ad, it could only be FULL RETAIL. Bose frowned against having a "sale" or even discounting their products off of full retail pricing. If you did wish to discount a Bose product you could never, ever mention the price in print - you could only say things like "Save!" or "Come in for pricing", which even the former raised their eyebrows in alarm.

So you say to yourself, "So? That did not mean that you couldn't sell the product at whatever pricing you truly wished to", and in that respect you do not understand the delicacy of the situation.

Bose would do (occasional) inspections of your shop to see how you displayed their products (in a dedicated display, not in direct comparison to any other product) and at what pricing. If they didn't like what they saw? Then, purely by 'accident'...your shipments dried up. You could order and order and order, but by some miraculous 'loss' of your requests you never actually GOT any product.

So every Bose dealer went along with the ploy. Therefore, de facto "price fixing" - it was almost impossible for a customer to buy Bose at a discount, you had to look far and wide and find a dealer doing so in a quiet manner (which, we did).

These de facto pricing standards were - AND STILL ARE - somewhat rampant in parts of the retail industry. Grado Labs, headphone manufacturers, are widely known for continuing to play this game in Europe: you discount our products? Don't expect a restocking shipment anytime soon.

A few companies in recent years have, like Apple, attempted to get this policy in writing and, as you see, the retailers just play along and sign on the dotted line. Why? They are used to the subversive version of it being played against them so having it in writing is not that significant a deal - it isn't anything truly new. The other companies got caught and now it is simply Apple's turn to pay the piper for anti-competitive practices and, like the others before them, Apple sees no problem with the policy because they've seen this game played for years. 'Why are you bothering us?!', they bemoan, when it's been around before?

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Pint

Re: One thing I could never understand

"How could anyone think that an agreement which basically said "You are not allowed to give this price or better to a competitor" could EVER be anything but a price fixing arrangement..."

Lawyers and people used to bending contracts and words for profit, such as people in marketing and evasive accounting departments.

Hmmm... marketing bods, evasive accountants and lawyers... isn't that about 60% of Apple staff?

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Holmes

Re: One thing I could never understand

That's a very interesting point and makes me think of how you never see a discounted iMac in a store.

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Might be a little optomistic

To think the actual buyers who got ripped off will see any money. I'm pretty sure that's not how this stuff works.

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Re: Might be a little optomistic

Of course they'll see the money. Not directly mind you, but since all buyers are American (using american logic) all the money will go to the american government who act on behalf of the people. So by using american logic the money actually does get to everybody (everybody being americans, even if they're not)

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Anonymous Coward

Hey it's the Reg - if Apple did it boo hiss and charge them the earth - if Goo 'Do Not Evil' gel did it then that's okay. Didn't Google just scan tons of books and make them available - with the authors permission or not?

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Anonymous Coward

A simple way of explaining it is that there is a line in the sand.

Google do one of the following

1: Toe the line, gonig right up to the limits of legal

2: Find a gap in the line which lets them pass without crossing it. (a loophole)

3: Step over the line a bit, and then apologise when they're caught

4: Find something where the line doesn't exist at all and try to get the line pushed back as far as possible when it is finally put in place.

Apple however do the following

1: See the line, and then scoot over it like a dog with worms scoots along the carpet.

One of them is pressing their luck but in a legal way, the other is completely flouting the law and expects to get away with it.

That and google actually settled on the book issue with an "Easier to ask forgiveness than permission" approach. They continue to put everything up there, but publishers can ask for specific titles to be removed. Which works out much faster than google asking for permission for each individual title.

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Maybe each contract Apple write for the next years will have on it "Waaaa, the court says that we aren't allowed to offer these terms: A, B, C; so we're doing X, Y, Z instead."

There is a precedant for that

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not the messiah

............a naughty naughty boy

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Apple has said that the government's remedy is "absurdly broad, invasive, vague, draconian and punitive".

Why am I suddenly reminded of one of my children stamping their feet with a loud, whiney declaration of "That's not fair!" after being told that some privilege will be revoked because they've misbehaved?

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Half-time score

Lawyers 1 - Apple 0

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Headmaster

Ah , I see........

Apple has said that the government's remedy is "absurdly broad, invasive, vague, draconian and punitive".

........Just like their patent claims then.

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Mushroom

Not to worry.

The great-grandchildren of Apple's current legal team will be filing appeals on this until THEIR great-grandchildren have all gone through Law School...unless some Arse of a President decides circumvent the legal findings of where ever this ends up.

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Childcatcher

There is another side to this...

I'm interested to see that there doesn't seem to be an opposing view to the 'Apple did wrong' view. The book trade seems to see this differently....

"There is rarely a case in the book business in which a piece of news can be so differently received. Do you take the view that Apple, in its arrogance, deserves to pay the substantial sums which will be imposed because they have conspired to force up the price of ebooks for the consumer? This is the view from the world of technology as well as the legal one.

Or do you say, as much of the book trade on both sides of the Atlantic , including the Bookseller, has done, that it was just an attempt to stop Amazon trying to entice consumers to buy ebooks, especially through its Kindle device, at very low prices?

The regulatory authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have tended to support Amazon whenever it has come to a showdown. Many in the UK book trade were astounded when the giant internet retailer was allowed to go ahead with its purchase of The Book Depository, even though it was one of the few companies offering any challenge to Amazon. By deciding that Amazon did not yet have a dominant position in the UK book trade as a whole, the UK Office of Fair Trading ignored the fact that it certainly does have a monopoly in online book sales, and allowed the acquisition to go ahead.

Amazon does seem unstoppable and many suspect they have used low prices as a tool to drive their competitors out of business. Of course books were just a starting-point and the internet retailer now trades in many other areas, establishing dominance on the web in many countries."

Interesting view... will Amazon now raise the price of e-books?

Another thought... I'm not an author and have no idea how Amazon et al pay royalties to authors but something about the modern state of play for non mega-corporates or bankers makes me think it's not a lot and if e-book prices go down this can only get worse for them.

For 'context'... I do read books, I don't use or buy Apple products, I don't use or buy e-books and I don't buy from Amazon. I try not to use Google either but hey there are only so many impossible things you can do before breakfast!

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"She said she was hesitant about the court-appointed external monitor the government was keen on and preferred the idea of a strong internal antitrust compliance programme"

Seriously? i mean, see Microsoft, having a (US court) appointed external monitor does nothing anyway. But she can't seriously expect Apple would be capable of regulating itself can she?

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