Publishers and Apple sued in Canada for price fixing

From Shelf Awareness:

Close on the heels of last week’s U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit, a Vancouver law firm has filed a proposed class-action lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court, alleging that Apple and a number of publishers engaged in a “conspiracy” to lessen competition and “fix, maintain, increase or control the prices of e-books.” The Toronto Globe & Mail reported that it “is the most recent of at least five such suits filed recently in courts in Ontario, Quebec and B.C.”

Targeted publishers for the Canadian actions include Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and their Canadian subsidiaries.

“The U.S. case isn’t going to cover Canadian consumers. So it’s the same underlying facts, it’s the same consumer protection agenda, but it is for different consumers in a different country,” said lawyer Reidar Mogerman, who filed the suit last week on behalf of plaintiff Denise E. McCabe, “a non-practicing Kamloops lawyer who has purchased a ‘significant’ number of e-books,” the Globe & Mail wrote.

1 Comment on Publishers and Apple sued in Canada for price fixing

  1. The madness spreads, although in this case on the surface it appears to be just some greedy law firm in Vancouver. If it’s a typical consumer class-action lawsuit, it’s a ploy to enrich the lawyers. If the lawyers win they’ll clear about $400/hour for their time. In contrast, the alleged consumer-victims will be lucky, given all the paperwork required, to make $4/hour for their time.

    But then again, it may not be that. I checked out the news stories in Canada and elsewhere. In their arguments these Vancouver lawyers seem to be puffing Amazon as the good guy at the time of the alleged conspiracy almost to excess. Note this from TheSpec.com:

    BEGIN QUOTE
    It was designed to unseat Amazon as the primary e-book seller and the plot forced Amazon to switch to a system which guaranteed Apple a 30 per cent commission on each e-book it sold and prevented retailers from selling the products more cheaply than Apple, the court filings state.”

    Consequently, prices increased “as much as 50 per cent for most titles over Amazon’s previous prices and reduced competition for e-books in Canada and elsewhere,” said one complaint.
    http://www.thespec.com/print/article/707894
    END QUOTE

    Very revealing. These lawyers sound like they’ve been hired to represent Amazon rather than this ebook-reading woman, Denise E. McCabe.

    There’s also this remark on that same webpage:

    QUOTE
    Following an investigation triggered by whistle-blowing Seattle law firm Hagens Berman earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster and brought antitrust lawsuits against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin.
    END QUOTE

    Interesting. Seattle, the locale of this ‘whistle-blowing’ law firm is also the corporate headquarters of Amazon and Vancouver, where the other legal action is originating, is the closest major Canadian city to Amazon’s headquarters. (And yes, there are also two lawsuits originating in Ontario getting less attention.)

    Could Amazon be lurking in the shadows behind all these lawsuits? Lawyers don’t come cheap. And if you want to know why something is happening, the smartest move is ask who’s benefiting from all this fuss. Who is the fiddler calling this tune?

    I really doubt it’s that woman. She can’t be reading enough books to justify hiring a pricey law firm. And it’s certainly not consumers who, if Amazon had its way, would have seen its 90% market share then grow to around 98% by now, rather than slide to the current 60-70% range.

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