For years now the future of publishing has been driven more by litigation than innovation. While 2015 leaves a couple of key cases right near the edge of resolution — the biggest question is whether the Supreme Court will agree to hear Apple’s appeal of the ebook antitrust ruling (the odds of the Court taking any case are very low, though legal experts guess that if the justices take the case, they are likely to find for Apple) — we may be coming to the end of the “digital dispute decade,” at least in the US.
But in time-warped Europe, market concentration issues are coming to the forefront for regulators, just as the EU looks to constrain American-born internet giants of all kinds, in all kinds of ways. So the legal battle may simply be shifting territory. And while EU antitrust authorities are examining the market power of Amazon/Kindle/Audible — thanks in part to lobbying by booksellers and publishers — separate EU copyright initiatives remain of substantial concern to publisher.
Beyond the Apple case — with a settlement payout of up to $400 million to consumers to spend on books hanging in the balance — the largest holdover matters include the revised authors suit against Harlequin, and Jesse Ventura’s defamation suit against the Chris Kyle estate, now at the appeals stage.
To keep track, here is a roundup of notable disputes, ongoing and resolved in 2015:
Apple vs. the DOJ, States, and Consumer Class
- Barnes & Noble, ABA, and Authors Guild File Brief Asking Supreme Court to Hear Apple’s Appeal (December 2)
- Supreme Court Extends Apple Appeal Deadline to January 4, 2016 — and Opens Door to Outside Briefs (November 23)
- Apple Supreme Court Filing Claims Appeals Decision “Will Harm Competition and the National Economy” (October 29)
- Original “Save the Date” for Supreme Court Appeal (September 14) Requests More Time to File (September 17) More from Apple’s Preliminary Filing (September 17)
- Appeals Court Upholds Verdict Against Apple, With Notable Dissent (June 30)
- Earlier Sympathy from Notable Dissenter, Judge Dennis Jacobs (March 10)
Fifty Shades Lawsuit
- Pedroza Set to Win $10.7 Million Fifty Shades Suit, But Can She Collect? (August 27)
- Writers Coffee Shop Owner Ordered to Set Aside $10 Million in Escrow in Fifty Shades Suit (April 28)
- Earlier Story on Former Writers Coffee Shop Partner Winning Lawsuit (February 20)
New Cases: European Amazon Antitrust Investigations
- German Antitrust Office Looks at Audible and iTunes Exclusive Sales Agreements (November 16)
- The Germans Ask For Second Investigation Into Amazon’s Audio Empire (September 21)
- European Commission Investigates Amazon’s eBook MFNs in UK, Germany (June 11)
Other New Cases
- Internship Lawsuits Come to Book Publishing, With Suit Against S&S (February 25)
[Likely on hold now as Appeals Court Vacates Trend-Setting Ruling In Fox Interns Case, (July 2)]
- Amazon Sues Over “Inauthentic” Reviews (April 10)
- After Judge William Pauley certified the author class in a lawsuit against Harlequin last October, various motions were filed that set a schedule preparing for a trial some time in 2016. Discovery and expert witness testimony is scheduled to be completed by March 21, 2016, and a final pre-trial conference is set for April 29, 2016.
- Jesse Ventura‘s lawsuit against HarperCollins, filed last December, was stayed in January pending a decision from the Eight Circuit of Appeals on Ventura’s lawsuit against the Chris Kyle estate, which he won last July. Subsequently, in October the appeals court gave weight to the argument that the jury should not have been told an insurer would pay Ventura’s damages.
Authors vs. Author Solutions
- With Settlement Reached in Indiana, Author Solutions Case is Closed (September 15)
- Settlement Reached in New York Cases (August 25)
- Judge Cote Denies Class Certification in One Author Lawsuit (July 6)
- More On the Spate of Author Solutions Lawsuits in Indiana (April 1)
- Original Class-Seeking Status Filing (February 27)
Family Christian Bankruptcy
- Court to Decide If Revised Family Christian Buyout Goes to Creditor Vote (July 10)
- Judge Denies Results of Family Christian Bankruptcy Auction (June 19)
- Appeals Court Affirms Google Books Project as Fair Use (October 16) [an attempt to appeal to the Supreme Court is still possible]
- Authors Guild Drops Further Action in HathiTrust Lawsuit (January 9)
- Canongate Publishes James Rhodes Memoir In UK After Winning Legal Battle (May 20)
- After Originally Planning to File Another Amended Complaint, Gerritsen Quits Pursuing Warner Brothers For “Gravity” Contract Breach Suit (February and June)