The Wall Street Journal has a look at why Apple is so persistent in fighting the Department of Justice charges after the publishers already settled. It basically comes down to not having its ability to negotiate with other media businesses hampered, not having to get rid of its “most favored nation” clauses in other media sales (it does use them in other areas than just e-books), and not having to put up with government oversight.

"Any time there is a monitor, there is someone sticking their nose in your future business and you aren’t comfortable," said Jeffrey Jacobovitz, co-chair of the antitrust practice at Arnall Golden Gregory LLP. He added that Apple could face more class-action lawsuits.

The publishers, of course, had a lot more reason to settle. The DoJ offered them reasonable settlement terms, they didn’t want to pour good money after bad in defending the suits or risk worse financial consequences from a loss in court, and in Random House and Penguin’s cases they needed to be on good terms with the DoJ so it would approve their merger. Even Macmillan, which had sworn to fight the suit to the bitter end, finally came around and settled after it became clear the stakes were too high to risk a loss.

The oversight might be annoying, but the publishers don’t have their fingers in as many pies as Apple, so the extent of the damages would be limited. But a loss for Apple might open its entire hardware and media empire to government scrutiny.

Apple continues to insist it did nothing wrong. “We’re not going to sign something that says we did something we didn’t do and so we are going to fight it,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said. So in the end, it’s going to be down to Judge Cote to make a decision—and whatever she decides, her decision will be one of the most important events to hit the e-book world this year.

I’ll be looking forward to it.