Apple Slams DoJ’s E-Book Ruling Proposal As “Draconian” And “Punitive”

If the DoJ gets its way, the iBookstore will be shut down.

If the DoJ gets its way, the iBookstore will be shut down.

Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Justice proposed serious remedies for Apple to abide by now that the company has been found guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices. When the ruling was issued last month that Apple was guilty, the outcome of the suit was unknown. How would the government punish Apple (for something that Apple has always adamantly denied)? Now we know.

Not only does the DoJ want Apple to stop selling e-books through the iBookstore entirely, but allow rivals like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to sell e-books in their iOS apps. In a scathing response to the DoJ’s proposal, Apple has called the proposed remedies “draconian” and “punitive.”

An excerpt from Apple’s 31-page brief on the DoJ’s proposal:

“Plaintiffs’ proposed injunction is a draconian and punitive intrusion into Apple’s business, wildly out of proportion to any adjudicated wrongdoing or potential harm. Plaintiffs propose a sweeping and unprecedented injunction as a tool to empower the Government to regulate Apple’s businesses and potentially affect Apple’s business relationships with thousands of partners across several markets. Plaintiffs’ overreaching proposal would establish a vague new compliance regime—applicable only to Apple—with intrusive oversight lasting for ten years, going far beyond the legal issues in this case, injuring competition and consumers, and violating basic principles of fairness and due process. The resulting cost of this relief—not only in dollars but also lost opportunities for American businesses and consumers—would be vast.”

The App Store doesn’t allow an app like Kindle to offer paid e-books directly within the app itself, and if the DoJ wins, reversing the rule is going to be a very hard pill to swallow. “Apple is under no duty to allow other retailers to offer apps on the iPad in the first place, much less on terms that subsidize their operations,” notes the company’s brief. The DoJ wants other e-book publishers to let customers pay and download e-books in their respective iOS apps for the next two years.

What the DoJ is proposing would extend to how Apple makes pricing deals for not only e-books, but TV shows, movies, and music through the iTunes Store. It’s an incredibly broad, crippling list of remedies. Apple would be kept out of the e-book market for five years and be permanently refrained “from entering into agreements with other providers of music, movies, TV shows or books that might increase the prices at which rival retailers sell that content.”

Apple is obviously doing it everything it can to not let this happen, but the problem is that Tim Cook and co. don’t think they’ve done anything wrong. If some sort of common ground can’t be reached, the results of this ruling won’t be good.

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  • technochick

    So the DOJ basically wants to kill the Apple media stores. And/or run the whole market themselves.

    It only mentions ebooks but folks might sign this gem that was passed on to me.
    http://wh.gov/lr8uW

  • techwarrior

    Death Penalty for Jaywalking, details at 11.

    Clearly, Amazon’s 7k hires and Obama’s visit this week were a payoff for the investment Amazon made to the Obama retirement fund.

    Apple, if you don’t start paying off the tyrants, you will be out of business in a year.

  • lwdesign1

    This ruling is utterly illogical and ridiculous. Businesses succeed and fail on the quality of their products and the prices they charge. This is what is called free enterprise and allowing a company to stand on its own policies and merits. If the general public doesn’t like what the company offers or feels the products are too expensive, they won’t buy, which will force the company to either revise its policies/prices or go out of business. Now the Department of Justice has the idea that allowing booksellers to set their own prices is somehow anti-American and against the law. In fact, the DOJ is becoming more and more like the rest of the current federal government, more and more socialist all the time. The DOJ’s interference may cause Apple to shut down the iBookstore and even iTunes, crippling Apple’s sales and denying access to hundreds of millions of Mac and iOS users. Tell me how this is “justice” when I see no wrongdoing in Apple’s policies whatsoever.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath has been a staff writer at Cult of Mac for three years. He is also a co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by places like the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too. All DMs excepted.

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