French publishing and price-fixing laws might have been the model for Apple’s iBookstore price-fixing
One of the ironic twists about the anti-trust lawsuits against Apple and the major publishing companies is that Apple’s entrance into the ebook market actually broke Amazon’s virtual monopoly on the ebook business. In the process, publishers gained the ability to control ebook pricing, which can be seen as actually encouraging competition in the industry.
While the U.S. Department of Justice and attorneys general from many states are pursuing lawsuits around the matter, not every country would see the situation in the same terms as the U.S. government. In France, for example, publishers can legally control pricing and are protected from booksellers undercutting their business as Amazon had been doing with its power over the ebook market. It’s even possible that France’s laws protecting publishers may have served as inspiration for the agency model that Apple used in building the iBookstore.
New information made public in anti-trust suit against Apple and publishers
The Justice Department’s anti-trust suit and the accompanying class action suit brought by various states (totaling 31 plus the District of Columbia) on behalf of consumers against Apple and the major publishing houses has always been tinged with more than a little irony. After all, the alleged price fixing and collusion actually broke Amazon’s monopoly-like hold on the ebook market. In doing so, it opened the door for products and platforms to compete with Amazon’s Kindle.
The idea of Apple as a sort of digital age Robin Hood is a powerful one in the narrative and one that could give Apple a viable case in the anti-trust suit if the actually goes to trial. Unfortunately, new evidence in the class action suit throws a bit ice water on Apple’s attempt to cast itself as the good guy (or at least as the better guy than Amazon).
Apple, Google, Intel and four other tech giants failed to convince a judge to dismiss an antitrust suit brought against them. The suit alleges that the companies conspired against hiring each other’s employees and District Judge Lucy Koh in her decision said:
“The fact that all six identical bilateral agreements were reached in secrecy among seven defendants in a span of two years suggests that these agreements resulted from collusion, and not from coincidence,”
While Apple, Google, and Intel are the three largest firms in the suit, other major companies, including Adobe, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Intuit are included.