US: DOJ urged to redirect attention to Amazon’s hostility against publishers

The US Department of Justice has reportedly responded to Apple’s appeal of last year’s verdict that found Apple collude to fix eBook prices, but some experts are wondering whether the DOJ should be more concerned with Amazon and its treatment of eBook publishers.

According to reports, the DOJ filed a 117-page long response late Tuesday to Apple’s appeal, a document that largely recounts the initial allegations against the tech giant, including claims Apple created a new pricing policy with eBook publishers to ensure eBooks would land on its new iPad, leading to fixed eBook prices in efforts to compete against online retailer Amazon.

Apple filed its appeal in February to fight US District Judge Denise Cote’s July decision; the company slammed evidence used against the company as “at best, highly ambiguous.”

But in its rebuttal, the DOJ argued that “a plaintiff need only show sufficient evidence to allow a reasonable fact finder to infer that the conspirational explanation is more likely than not. Here’s the charged conspiracy was more than merely plausible.”

The DOJ’s view of Amazon

But what some reports are highlighting in the DOJ’s latest filing is the regulator’s view of Amazon.

While the retailer is seen as a victim of Apple’s alleged price-fixing scheme, the DOJ described Amazon as “the market leader in eBook retail sales.”

It’s a description that some say should earn more attention as reports emerged last week that Amazon is ending pre-orders on eBooks published by Hachette. The feud is part of a broader disagreement between the company over contracts, reports say, and had previously led Amazon to deliberately delay Hachette product shipments.

The hostile practices should earn the attention of the DOJ, some experts argue, and away from Apple. Similar actions taken within Germany by Amazon have already caught the attention of some antitrust experts, reports say.

Full content: Gigaom and Publishers Weekly

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