Authors and booksellers call for overturn of Apple ruling

Authors and booksellers call for overturn of Apple ruling

A group of authors and booksellers have filed a motion in the US asking for the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decision against Apple's role in a 2010 conspiracy to fix the price of e-books to be overturned.

In July, a court judgement found that “Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise e-book prices” by conspiring with publishers to fix the price of e-books.

However, the Authors Guild, along with Authors United, the group led by author Douglas Preston, the American Booksellers Association, and Barnes & Noble filed an "amicus brief" in the US which asserts that the government’s focus on Apple’s “allegedly anti-competitive activities" was "misplaced”, according to Publishers Weekly.

“Apple’s conduct, in fact, enhanced competition by increasing e-book output, the number of e-book titles, and the number of e-book distributors, which led to technological improvements in the e-book market and enhanced freedom of expression and access to e-books,” the Guild said in a statement.

It said Apple’s entry into the market increased competition, “as demonstrated by the fall of Amazon’s market share from 90% in 2010 to around 60% two years later”. The brief went onto say the Department of Justice should instead apply anti-trust scrutiny to Amazon over its past anticompetitive behaviour in the e-book marketplace.

Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the Authors Guild in New York, said: “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. Freedom and diversity of expression inevitably wither in a book market heavily controlled by a single player.”

Oren J. Teicher, c.e.o. of the American Booksellers Association, added: “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.”

The brief was filed by lawyers at Kirkland & Ellis in New York.

In October, Apple also asked the Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision which backed the decision finding the company liable for its role in a conspiracy to fix e-books prices in 2010.