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Authors United to ask Department of Justice for Amazon antitrust inquiry
September 25, 2014 | 6:08 pm

So, Authors United’s latest publicity stunt is to declare they’re asking the Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for anti-trust issues in the wake of the continuing contract dispute with Hachette. (Publishers Weekly talks about it here, linking to a paywalled Financial Times article that you can read free by googling “Authors to call for Amazon antitrust inquiry” then clicking the FT article and answering a question.) They’re still in the process of drafting the letter; Douglas Preston says it was leaked “very prematurely.” The letter will ask the justice department’s antitrust division to “examine Amazon’s...

Looking back at Michael Bromwich’s report on Apple antitrust compliance
September 20, 2014 | 5:19 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve had much to say about the Apple antitrust suit. I’ve been a bit busy to write much for TeleRead in general, what with my new day job and things. Nate on The Digital Reader has some good coverage of the main points of interest: Apple Agrees to Pay $450 Million in eBook Antitrust Lawsuit Judge Okays Apple’s $450 Million eBook Antitrust Settlement Amazon Sends Out Email Concerning Apple’s Antitrust Settlement There’s also a new, related case in which three defunct e-book stores...

PACER to restore ten years of deleted records; is still obnoxiously expensive
September 20, 2014 | 9:37 am

pacerLogoI thought I’d mentioned this at the time it happened, but I apparently didn’t. Last month, the court records database PACER deleted ten years’ worth of electronic federal court documents in the course of a hardware update. This sparked an immediate backlash from lawmakers. Now Ars Technica reports that the US government Administrative Office of the Courts will return most of those files to the database by the end of October. It’s nice that they’re doing the right thing, but the shortcomings of the PACER system are aggravating. The system charges ten cents per downloaded page, including for lists...

Google uses transfer pricing to avoid paying European taxes
July 27, 2014 | 9:25 am

One of the most commonly-heard complaints about Amazon, at least in Europe, is that it sells e-books from a division based in Luxembourg so that it can charge a much lower VAT (Value-Added Tax, the European equivalent of sales tax) rate on its e-books than UK law allows. The unspoken implication is that everyone else must surely pay all the taxes they owe like good little corporate boys and girls. But Ars Technica reports that Google uses a practice called “transfer pricing” to assign most of its European revenues to an offshore subsidiary in Bermuda and avoid paying taxes...

Aereo loses, cell phone privacy wins at Supreme Court today
June 25, 2014 | 11:22 am

A pair of important Supreme Court decisions came down today—one disappointing and one critically important to anyone who uses mobile devices. The disappointing one is a 6-3 decision killing Aereo. The service that used dedicated individual miniature antennas to stream broadcast TV service to people’s computers over the Internet has been ruled to appear too much like a cable company, even as it scrupulously followed the letter of existing case law (while nonetheless skirting its spirit). Aereo could try to license content from the networks going forward, but would have to pass the costs on to consumers—and as Gizmodo...

Apple settles e-book anti-trust damages with states, class-action plaintiffs
June 17, 2014 | 5:49 am

Well, there’s a thing. Reuters reports that Apple has agreed to settle the e-book anti-trust lawsuit filed by 33 state attorneys general and class-action lawyers for consumers from other states. Details of the settlement have not been released; it still needs approval from the court. Judge Cote has ordered the complainants and Apple to submit a filing to seek approval of the settlement within 30 days. As I understand it, this renders the $840 million damages phase of the trial effectively moot. Apple is still going to fight the guilty verdict in the Department of Justice case, and the...

House first sale doctrine hearing: My points of view
June 4, 2014 | 2:49 pm

Well, that was quite a few articles. I hope you at least read my summaries, and they didn’t put you to sleep. I was impressed by the breadth of viewpoints represented in that sample of testimony. We heard from a major publisher, a company and an interest group lobbying for digital resale, a graphic artist, a media executive, a major library, and more. They all had their own unique viewpoints, and reading all of them really gave me a new appreciation for how complicated first sale is—not just the proposed digital type, but the ordinary physical media type we all...

Department of Justice to review ASCAP, BMI consent decrees
June 4, 2014 | 11:21 am

The Tennessean reports that the Department of Justice is opening a review of the consent decrees governing ASCAP and BMI, the nation’s two largest performance rights organizations. The decrees haven’t been updated in well over a decade, and the organizations are concerned they haven’t kept pace with changing times and technology. ASCAP wants three changes: first to replace the federal rate court review procedure with arbitration, which they believe will be faster and less expensive (and, perhaps, more favorable to them in negotiations than the rate court has been). Second, ASCAP wants to be able to allow its members...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Public Knowledge, John Villasenor, The Software Alliance (BSA)
June 4, 2014 | 7:31 am

Previously in this series: House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Graphic Artists Guild, Owners’ Rights Initiative House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Matthew B. Glotzer, New York Public Library Here’s the last batch (so far) of documents from the first sale House subcommittee hearing. If any additional material becomes available, I’ll pick that up down the line. Public Knowledge The first document for this entry comes from Sherwin Siy,...

Department of Justice asks settling publishers, ‘Done any more colluding lately?’
June 3, 2014 | 7:45 pm

The Wall Street Journal reports hearing from “people familiar with the situation” that the first three publishers to settle—Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and News Corp’s own HarperCollins—have received letters of inquiry from the Department of Justice, seeking information about “any recent pricing discussions they may have had with others in the industry.” The rest of the article is basically background reminding folks of the price-fixing lawsuit the publishers settled, and the trouble Amazon is having with Hachette. There’s really not a lot on which to speculate. It does seem clear, though, that given that the publishers are approaching the...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Matthew B. Glotzer, New York Public Library
June 3, 2014 | 12:14 pm

Previously in this series: House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Graphic Artists Guild, Owners’ Rights Initiative This post continues a theme from the last couple, in which one side’s statement is for preserving/extending first sale, and the other is against it. Which is kind of stretching a point, given that the “pro” post really isn’t about digital resale and the con post isn’t against physical resale, but still, I take what I can get. This time...

John Oliver: Let’s call ‘net neutrality’ what it really is
June 3, 2014 | 7:15 am

Origin 632014 52418 AM.bmpDaily Show alum John Oliver has turned his keen wit toward net neutrality. In a scathing 13-minute segment of Last Week Tonight, Oliver astutely points out that the cable companies are winning the net neutrality fight by making it so boring that it slips right under the average person’s radar. Hence, instead of “net neutrality,” the term the activists should really be using is “preventing cable company f**kery.” As The Daily Kos notes: Oliver on the Federal Communications Commissions Chairman Tom Wheeler's two-tiered internet: "If we let cable companies offer two speeds of service, they...