Antitrust In the News This Week

September 26, 2014 · Filed Under Uncategorized · Comment 

Letter Asks DOJ Antitrust Division to Examine Amazon’s Conduct

Amazon and the “Big 5” publishing company Hatchette have been locked in bitter negotiations for the past few months over ebook pricing. In the course of the dispute, Amazon has bought fewer Hatchette titles and  has refused to accept preorders of books published by Hatchette authors. Now a group of prominent authors calling themselves Authors United has written to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation.

“These sanctions have driven down Hachette authors’ sales at Amazon.com by at least 50 percent and in some cases as much as 90 percent,” states the letter, which has been signed by a slew of prominent authors, including Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver and John Grisham.

Though the DOJ’s response to the letter remains to be seen, experts quoted as the dispute was taking shape back in May sounded skeptical as to the merits of the authors’ claim.

Google Pushes Back Against NewsCorp

Last week, NewsCorp published a letter they had sent to Joaquin Almunia, the European Commissioner for Competition. The letter argued against an offer Google had made to settle its long-running antitrust dispute with the EU.  NewsCorp accused Google’s “cynical management” of failure to “respect fundamental property rights.”

Google hit back in a blog post this week, arguing that Google was a force for good in tackling things like online piracy. Google further disputed the idea that they are a “gatekeeper” of the web, instead claiming that they face competition in a variety of areas:

Google faces competition from Amazon.com Inc. for product searches, Kayak Software Corp. and Expedia Inc. for flights, and Yelp Inc. and Trip Advisor Inc. for local information [Google spokeswoman Rachel Whetstone] said today.