Wall Street Journal's Thomas Catan writes, "Critics of E-Books Lawsuit Miss the Mark, Experts Say"
The Passive Voice, a lawyer, summarizes the WSJ article and then links us to the FULL Wall Street Journal article, which few do, and that link may expire at any time so if you want to read the full article, get it now.
WSJ's Catan notes that what Eric Hellman calls the "nightmare narrative being spun by the publishing echo chamber" on behalf of "the Collusive 5 publishers" has been front and center the last week in a circling-wagons formation (with what seems shared boilerplate) decrying the DOJ action against the poor Big5 and the ebooks savior, Apple. Here is some of what attorney Passive Guy excerpted yesterday from the WSJ article:
' But many experts say that under antitrust law, the department didn’t have much choice. And even if it did, antitrust experts say, it is far from clear that doing nothing would have been wise.
U.S. antitrust law doesn’t seek to protect little companies against big ones, or even struggling ones against successful ones. Companies can grow as large as they want, as long as they do it through lower prices, better service or niftier innovations. Companies can even become monopolies, as long as they don’t get there illegally or try to extend their power by unlawfully stifling competition.
Companies under pressure from a more successful rival can’t band together to protect themselves, whatever their size.
“A lot of cartels are [composed of] small firms,” says Herbert Hovenkamp, law professor at the University of Iowa. “The criminal cases the Justice Department brings are often family firms—much smaller than these publishers.”
“Price fixing is kind of the first-degree murder of antitrust violations,” Prof. Hovenkamp says. “They don’t have discretion to just walk away from what appears to be a strong set of facts that, if true, are one of the most central of antitrust violations.”
The government might already have shown some leniency. For one, the Justice Department brought a civil, rather than a criminal, case, so no executives will go to prison...
But as disruptive as Amazon’s pricing may be to publishers, it isn’t illegal, experts say.
“What Amazon does may be harmful to the publishers, but so far it’s been very good for consumers,” says Spencer Waller, a law professor at Loyola University Chicago.
....the law is concerned with protecting competition, not competitors, experts say. Cartels, for example, usually allow more players to coexist by enforcing higher prices.
“The goal of antitrust policy is to protect consumer prices, Prof. Hovenkamp says. “It’s not to protect inefficient firms from having to exit the market.”
Mild-mannered Len Edgerly in an unusual, separate blog-posting that was not a podcast entry, at his The Kindle Chronicles Podcast site, pointed to the truly ludicrous column by David Carr for The New York Times, which described the Dept of Justice's action as akin to 'breaking up' "Ed’s Gas ’N’ Groceries on Route 19" (this would be the Big5 Publishers (!) and affecting even little B&N, apparently, which has put so many smaller book stores out of business). He even refers to Apple as "a minor player in the realm of books" (more route-19-store fantasy -- the minor road-store that could, in one day, successfully encourage a jacking-up of e-book prices an average 50%, nation-wide, on new books, and, furthermore deny wee Random House space for its e-books for not cooperating on the Agency model.
Big Bad Amazon vs the Gas 'N' Groceries on Route 19. How do Carr and his editors publish a piece like that with straight faces. They don't. It's all about alignment and lack of any appropriate embarrassment when targeting readers they think are that gullible. Edgerly mentioned other NYT articles of the same caliber and asked,as a 'loyal subscriber to the NYT's Kindle version, "Are ALL of the Times's objective [?], hard-hitting journalists in the pockets of New York publishers?"
The Wall Street Journal article is even stronger than described so far. "Antitrust lawyers scoff at the notion that the Justice Department would refrain from bringing a case if it believes it has solid evidence."
In fact, if you haven't, you should actually read the 36-page PDF with the FULL TEXT of the DOJ case against Apple and the Big5 publishers. It's more eye-opening and truly riveting than most novels you'll buy. It's also unbelievable at several points that the companies went as far as they did, even 'openly' requesting of one another that they hide what they were doing.
Again, if you want to read the full WSJ article from yesterday, you should get it now while it's still available via the special email-sharing feature probably paid for by Passive Guy.
It's interesting to see the photos of the CEOs behind each company after reading so much about them.
Also, it has very sensible closing paragraphs. What they describe is a business model that
I've gathered a lot of news lately, but will end this with just this one topic, as there is a lot of interesting reading involved in the DOJ case papers and, really, this affects, in a big way, those of us who are book readers via digital media.
We're faced with a corporate mentality that would now deprive our public libraries of their new books in digital form for reading, with Penguin and others having voiced a need for "friction" in making it harder for anyone to borrow such a book (even if library reading has been shown to spur the general reading of authors and buying of books) so that, for instance, even if the library is an hour away, they should go there in person to borrow a book. Four of the five publishers involved are not making their current new e-books available at public libraries at all now -- that's the depth of their fear of e-books and people who read them.
Also, see Wired's Tim Carmody on DOJ Announces Terms of Settlement With Three Publishers in E-Book Suit. He lists them and includes the proposed settlement doc.
Current Kindle Models for reference, plus free-ebook search links
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Kindle Touch, WiFi
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Kindle Keybd 3G - $189, Free, slow web
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Kindle Touch WiFi, UK - £109
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi, UK - £169
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $109
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Touch 3G/WiFi - $189
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources. Top 100 free bestsellers. Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.
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