A court filing on Wednesday saw five major U.S. book publishers objecting to the penalties proposed by the Department of Justice against Apple’s e-book business. They say the penalties would change the terms of their own settlements with the government over the matter.
The publishing houses argue that the DOJ’s proposed five-year ban on Apple’s so-called “agency model” deals would negatively impact defendants which settled the e-book antitrust case, reports The Wall Street Journal. HarperCollins, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group and Macmillan all settled prior to the Justice Department’s trial.
“The provisions do not impose any limitation on Apple’s pricing behavior at all; rather, under the guise of punishing Apple, they effectively punish the settling defendants by prohibiting agreements with Apple using an agency model,” the documents read.
Apple was found guilty of e-book price fixing in July, for “colluding” with book publishers to falsely inflate the price of e-books sold through the iBookstore. The trial centered around “agency pricing,” which sees book publishers setting their own price, however they are precluded from offering the same content anywhere else for a lower price.
The proposed settlement from the DoJ would see Apple not being allowed to enter any agency model agreements for five years. The book publishers claim this would hurt them more than it would Apple.
On its own behalf, Apple has termed the proposal a “draconian and punitive intrusion” on its e-book business, and plans to appeal the ruling.
The proposal also looks to punish Apple beyond the scope of its iBookstore, also suggesting that the company be prohibited from entering similar agreements with vendors of “music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple’s competitors may sell that content.”