Apple 2.0

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Judge's remedies in Apple antitrust case apply only to e-books

September 6, 2013: 10:18 AM ET

Apple escapes the most intrusive elements of the government's proposed remedies.

Judge Cote.

Judge Cote.

FORTUNE -- Judge Denise Cote issued her final order in the Apple (AAPL) e-book antitrust case late Thursday.

From the company's point of view, it could have been a lot worse.

The order prohibits Apple from engaging in the kind of negotiations or structuring the kinds of deals that resulted in five of the big six publishers ganging up on Amazon (AMZN) in early 2010 and forcing it to change its e-book business model.

But the judge did not impose some of the more onerous aspects of the Department of Justice's proposed remedies:

  • Apple is not required to let Amazon and Barnes & Noble (BKS) sell books on the App Store without giving Apple it's usual 30% cut.
  • Apple is not required to change the way it conducts negotiations for other media -- TV shows, movies, music, apps, etc.
  • Although a court-appointed monitor will be overseeing Apple's e-book negotiations for the next two years, he or she will not be looking into the rest of Apple's business practices.

A separate jury trial to set penalties -- which could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars -- is scheduled for next year.

Judge Cote found in June that Apple had conspired the publishers to fix e-book prices. Apple has said it will appeal that ruling, but has not yet done so.

Link: US v. Apple Injunction.

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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