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Robinson-Patman, Amazon, the publishers, and the ABA: Where’s the lawsuit? (Updated)
June 3, 2014 | 3:16 pm

Two different op-eds have popped up on CNN and Al Jazeera suggesting that Amazon, big bully that it is in the Hachette negotiation, needs to be taken down a peg under the Robinson-Patman Act. (If you didn’t hear a raspy voice say “I’m Patman” when I mentioned the name of that law, I’m pretty sure you did just now.) Robinson-Patman is an anti-predatory-pricing regulation that’s on the books dating back to the ‘30s, intended to prevent businesses from charging different prices in different towns to undercut local competition, or from using their size to bully suppliers into giving...

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...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: Graphic Artists Guild, Owners’ Rights Initiative
June 3, 2014 | 5:04 am

oriPreviously in this series: House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi Here are two more documents from yesterday’s first sale hearing. Like yesterday’s pair, they’re a half-and-half split: one in favor of expanding first sale, the other concerned over what the implications might be. We begin with the concerned one. Graphic Artists Guild Writing on behalf of the Graphic Artists Guild, Ed Shems explains graphic artist concerns over the possible expansion of fair use in a 5-page PDF. Graphic artists, Shems explains, frequently license their work rather than selling it outright. This allows them to tailor their fees...

House first sale doctrine hearing written testimony: John Wiley & Sons, ReDigi
June 2, 2014 | 4:54 pm

We’ve covered the history of efforts to implement resale of digital goods before (more than once, in fact), and there’s been quite a discussion of why it would be a bad idea. Now it’s Congress’s turn to talk about it. Today a House subcommittee held a hearing concerning first sale and how it related to digital items. InfoDocket has links to the prepared remarks of a number of the attendees, as well as the opening statement by Representative Bob Goodlatte. Noting the importance of the first sale doctrine, Goodlatte said Although some legal doctrines...

Judge Cote awards patent troll victim legal fees under new Supreme Court precedent
June 2, 2014 | 4:50 am

Speaking of Judge Cote, turns out she’s got her head on straight in other ways than just the Apple trial. Ars Technica covers her ruling on a patent troll lawsuit, the first of its kind under a new Supreme Court precedent stating that patent trolls who lose their case can be required to pay the victor’s legal fees. Judge Cote didn’t give the troll victim, FindTheBest, everything it wanted—she threw out their attempt to file a RICO anti-extortion case against the troll—but she rejected the patent and declared that the legal fee award “will serve as an instrument of...

Appeals court rejects Apple request for stay of damages trial
June 2, 2014 | 4:11 am

Apple’s collected another appeal rejection the way some writers used to collect publisher rejection slips. The appeals court issued a terse decision saying that Apple hadn’t met the legal standard required for a stay, so it would not stay the damages phase of the trial while Apple appeals the guilty verdict. Appeals courts rarely ever explain their reasoning for these matters in detail, so all we can really say is that they didn’t find Apple’s argument convincing. The rejection paves the way for the trial to begin July 14, unless there are further administrative delays. The closest thing to...

Publishing consultants want to foster competition among retailers by making consumers miserable
May 29, 2014 | 6:40 pm

I’m not a publishing industry “insider.” I admit that. I know I pontificate from time to time, and have opinions very strongly expressed, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m “just” a consumer and a very interested onlooker who’s been observing the field from the outside for the last ten or fifteen years. From my perspective, it often seems like publishing industry folks don’t seem to know what they’re doing. Nonetheless, you know the old saying about what is done by those who can and those who can’t. I keep telling myself, this is how these...

Department of Justice files brief in Apple antitrust appeal, argues for upholding Judge Cote’s verdict
May 29, 2014 | 4:37 am

Publishers Weekly’s Andrew Albanese has a rundown of the latest developments in the Apple anti-trust affair. The Department of Justice has filed its brief in favor of the appeals court upholding Judge Cote’s guilty verdict. (GigaOm has some additional commentary and a Scribd link to the filing itself.) The filing says about what you would expect it to say: the DoJ summarized Cote’s findings and rebutted all of Apple’s attorneys’ arguments. In their brief, the DoJ basically recapped their case, and argued that the prosecution did not need to meet a higher legal standard, as Apple...

David Gaughran: ‘Don’t believe the spin’ in Amazon vs. Hachette affair
May 26, 2014 | 11:04 am

David Gaughran has a great blog post looking at the Amazon/Hachette affair in a less “poor little Hachette” light. It’s good to see this piece join this other blog piece and this Forbes story pointing out that there’s another side to the matter than the one Hachette’s partisans are pushing. Gaughran points out there are multiple possible explanations for what we’re seeing. The problem is that we haven’t really heard any of them. Indeed, apart from a couple of non-detailed, PR-laden emails from Hachette, we haven’t heard much of anything from either side. And if...

Scarlett Johansson sues over French novel featuring character that looks like her
May 14, 2014 | 12:44 pm

scarlett_johanssonPop culture can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it gives us a set of shared experiences that we can use to find common ground with even a complete stranger. Who trifles with discussing something as prosaic as the weather anymore when you can instead discuss your mutual reactions to Captain America 2? But on the other hand, sometimes those shared experiences can lead us to take shortcuts we probably shouldn’t. Why go to the trouble of describing a character physically when you can just tell us what well-known public figure she looks like? Or why not...

Router maker threatens lawsuit over Amazon review (Updated)
May 9, 2014 | 10:12 am

Origin 582014 63201 AM.bmpRemember a couple of weeks ago when I wrote about a self-publishing author who considered suing one of his readers for posting a bad Amazon review? Ars Technica reports that one company with products listed on Amazon has threatened just that. Update: And, as a result, said company has reportedly lost its Amazon selling license. In brief, the review as originally posted to Amazon (and quoted in the lawyers’ letter) accused router manufacturer Mediabridge Products of falsifying positive Amazon reviews and rebadging a $15 Chinese OEM router to sell for a $100 suggested (and $50 usual) retail price. As...

Steve Jobs may have escaped criminal charges due to ‘reality distortion field’
May 3, 2014 | 3:50 pm

Why didn’t Apple executives (or, for that matter, the publishers) face criminal charges in the antitrust lawsuit stemming from agency pricing? Until now, the theory I had heard was that it was because none of the actions the publishers or Apple had taken was illegal by itself—there were no examples of bribery, falsifying documents, or any other overtly criminal activity. Everything they did would have been legal if they’d only done it by themselves; the antitrust violation came about because they got together and elected to do it all at once. However, this New York Times article asks the...