Apple v. Justice Department

The Department of Justice is suing Apple on charges of ‘collusion’, to do with ebook publishing deals before the iPad launch in 2010.

The Verge reports:

Turvey, Google’s director of strategic partnerships, was in federal court in Manhattan as a government witness. […]

Turvey told the court that in early 2010, representatives of the five accused publishers, all of which have settled with the government, told him directly that they were switching to the agency model because contracts they entered into with Apple required it. […]

By the end of the interview Turvey had gone from saying the publishers had told him directly, to saying they had merely told people on his team, to finally saying the publishers had "likely" told someone on his team.

Sounds pretty bad, right? But:

Much of what they [DOJ] were trying to prove with Turvey’s testimony, they had already established with Apple’s own emails, testimony from the likes of Penguin Books CEO David Shanks, and three separate Amazon executives.

If they already have testimony, why do they feel the need to field someone like this? What does Google have anything to do with it, except being a business rival to the defendants?

This case is completely weird, and continues to be so.

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Update on the Amazon ebooks fiasco

Me, from a few hours ago:

Came across this account of a Kindle user’s ebook library being wiped, and Amazon account cancelled by Amazon. Worse, she wasn’t explained why this happened, and what she could do to remedy the situation.

[…]

Respond better, please, Amazon? I’ll be reminded of this every time I think of hitting ‘Buy’, and perhaps use Apple’s iBooks more often instead. (I don’t know that Apple’s terms are better, but they certainly can’t be worse!)

Since then, there have been some updates.

From Simon Phipps’ article:

Update @ 23:55 – Linn just contacted me to say her account has been mysteriously re-activated and she’s busily downloading her books. Hopefully Amazon will have more news for us all soon. Even positive arbitrary actions disclose how much Kindle customers read only with the grace of Amazon, of course…

Update @ 00:30 – Amazon PR just wrote to say: “We would like to clarify our policy on this topic. Account status should not affect any customer’s ability to access their library. If any customer has trouble accessing their content, he or she should contact customer service for help. Thank you for your interest in Kindle.”

Note that the Amazon PR quote still makes no attempt at explaining what happened, or whether the whole thing was a simple mistake. The person concerned was in contact with Amazon, was she not? Very reassuring, indeed.

At least she’s got her content back. The worrying thing is, that may have been due to the publicity this received. What would have happened otherwise?

On the same topic, Coyote Tracks writes:

Open or even de facto standards like RTF, MP3, MP4 and EPUB-when kept free from DRM-are what we need to be strongly advocating for. The music industry has mostly given up on DRM; it’s time for the publishing and video industries to follow their lead. (You’d think that merely knowing the RIAA was, in any way, more progressive than you are would be enough to shame you into action, but sadly not.) Some DRM is worse than others-Apple’s tends to be better at staying out of your way than most and, as far as I know, wouldn’t let Apple do what Amazon did here even if they wanted to […].

Seriously, why can’t I own my ebooks the same way I own my paper books?

Amazon and its vague ebook policies

Came across this account of a Kindle user’s ebook library being wiped, and Amazon account cancelled by Amazon. Worse, she wasn’t explained why this happened, and what she could do to remedy the situation.

Did she violate any terms? Amazon will not tell. Perhaps by accident? Amazon does not care. The conclusion so far is clear: Amazon closed her account, wiped her Kindle and refuses to tell her why. End of discussion.

That’s not very reassuring from a fellow Kindle user and someone who often buys ebooks from Amazon. Indeed, over the past few years I’ve mostly read ebooks, and almost no paper books at all.

Respond better, please, Amazon? I’ll be reminded of this every time I think of hitting ‘Buy’, and perhaps use Apple’s iBooks more often instead. (I don’t know that Apple’s terms are better, but they certainly can’t be worse!)

Also, as Marco comments, does the lady get all her money back that she spent in buying her books?

[via Marco Arment and John Gruber]