Apple is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appellate court decision that found they conspired with five publishers to increase e-book prices. Apple is trying to get the June ruling tossed out that would see them pay consumers $450 million under a 2014 settlement. Today, Apple has received some unexpected allies in the form of the Authors Guild, Authors United, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble.
In the brief submitted today, the groups sought to highlight the procompetitive impact of Apple’s conduct and the damaging effect on e-book publishing as well as the future of authorship that occurs when e-book distribution is in the hands of a single company. Attorneys with Kirkland & Ellis in New York and Washington, D.C. filed the amicus brief. “Absent correction,” they wrote in the brief, “the lower court’s wooden approach threatens to undermine the very objective of antitrust law—to ensure robust competition.”
“We authors feel strongly that diversity, competition, and the free flow of ideas are key to a healthy marketplace of books,” said Douglas Preston, founder of Authors United. “The numbers unequivocally show that Apple’s entry into the e-book market increased competition and gave authors and publishers greater choice in how content was delivered to the reading public.”
“We are pleased to lend our support in this matter, critical to anyone interested in a competitive and diverse literary marketplace,” said Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of the Authors Guild in New York. “We fundamentally question the wisdom of the Second Circuit’s use of antitrust law to punish a business arrangement that demonstrably increased competition in the e-book marketplace.” She added, “Freedom and diversity of expression inevitably wither in a book market heavily controlled by a single player.”
“Booksellers firmly believe in the importance of competition, a robust and diverse environment for authors and readers, and a healthy marketplace of ideas. We believe Apple’s participation in the e-books market strengthened all those goals, and the American Booksellers Association is pleased to join with our friends and colleagues at the Authors Guild, Authors United, and Barnes & Noble to support this matter,” said Oren J. Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association.
It remains to be seen if these companies can sway the courts opinion of the matter and grant Apple a Supreme Court ruling. To he honest, I do not think it will because the entire “We broke the law because we wanted more competition” argument is as lame as it sounds. Amazon is permitted to gain a large share of the ebook market if it does so by providing good products and services at lower prices. Antitrust law exists to protect consumers and competition, not any particular group of competitors.
Michael Kozlowski is the Editor in Chief of Good e-Reader. He has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past ten years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times.