Two years after the heavy hitters in the publishing industry colluded with Apple in order to fix the price of e-books, most of the legal dust has finally settled. Today Macmillan threw in the towel on anti-trust charges brought by the U.S. Justice Department:
A small firm that is also known as Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, Macmillan was the lone holdout among five publishers that the government sued in April 2012. Three publishers settled immediately and the fourth, Pearson Plc’s Penguin Group, settled in December.
The Justice Department will continue to litigate conspiracy allegations against Apple Inc, the department said in a statement. It accuses Apple of conspiring with the publishers to raise prices and fight the dominance of Amazon.com Inc.
The lone holdout, Apple, is probably betting that its haughty image and cultural cachet can keep it from becoming associated with yet another revolting act of corporate brutality. The Apple vs. Amazon battle is of course a deeply cynical dispute in itself, with both companies striving to dominate (meaning, monopolize) the distribution of digital content. In years to come it won’t be surprising if Amazon finds itself the target of anti-trust investigations on multiple fronts, including, ironically, attempting to monopolize both the sale and resale of digital content, thereby effectively allowing it to fix prices.
— Mark Barrett