Sunday, May 06, 2012

Open Letter To John Read

As many of my colleagues may be aware, there is a period of public comment on whether or not Federal Settlements of the anti-trust action against the Big 6 and Apple are in the public interest.

No doubt, there will be a great many self-serving letters sent in by readers who would like to claim a small refund on e-books they purchased on the Apple platform.

I think that any Settlement money could be much better, more fairly, and more wisely spent.

John Read
Chief Litigation III Section
Antitrust Division
US Department of Justice
450 5th Street, NW
Suite 4000
Washington DC 20530

Dear John Read, Your Honor,

I write to offer a comment on the possible settlement of litigation against various publishers and Apple for their alleged wrong-doing in offering an alternative to Amazon's predatory discounting of e-books.

My opinion is that purchasers should not receive a windfall "restitution" for e-book purchases they made willingly and voluntarily. The customers were not deceived. They were not obliged to purchase e-books at the advertised price if that price was more than they were prepared to pay.

Restitution would send a disastrous message to the public and to authors. Moreover, it would be very costly to administer, and the individual payouts would be small.

Please consider instead, suggesting that the Settlement moneys should be used to fund public education about copyright and copyright infringement, and/or action against copyright infringers of e-books.

This would be fair to the majority of members of the public who are honest and pay for their e-books, it would be fair to authors and publishers, and if piracy could be reduced, the cost of e-books ought to come down. Everyone would win.

That said, as an author, I am not at all in favor of this action by the DOJ, and I am extremely concerned that any owners of intellectual property may in future be accused of conspiracy if they discuss among themselves the "right" and "fair" price at which they are prepared to sell their books, or the pros and cons of Amazon contracts.

I deplore the implication that Amazon should be allowed to dictate the price range of e-books to authors and publishers regardless of other fixed costs that publishers and authors have to cover through legal sales, regardless of the length or the book, or the amount of time and effort that went into the content.

Yours sincerely,

Rowena Cherry.

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