Days after tersely rejecting the parties proposal to delay the proceedings, Judge Jed Rakoff, yesterday set an aggressive schedule in Book House Of Stuyvesant Plaza, Inc. et al v. Amazon.Com, Inc. et al, in which indie booksellers are suing Amazon and the big six publishers over their exclusive Kindle agreements. Rakoff gave the plaintiffs just one week, until March 21, 2013 to file an amended complaint, and gave the defendants just over two weeks to file to file any motions to dismiss, now due April 1. All replies and counter replies must be filed by April 18, 2013, and oral arguments on the motions are set for April 25. Rakoff did agree to stay discovery until after the April 25 hearing, but advised the parties to be prepared to have the case go to trial within six months of the oral arguments, by October 2013.
The schedule is very different from the joint proposal filed by the bookseller plaintiffs and the publisher defendants last week, who asked Rakoff to indefinitely stay discovery in the case, and to give the parties fairly generous time periods to file replies, and motions to dismiss. Amazon was not part of that filing, and notably, in a footnote, the parties stated Amazon, has not yet responded to the suit. Rakoff dubbed the proposal—“completely unacceptable,” and denied the motion. Indeed, Rakoff now has the case on track to hear oral arguments around the same time the parties had proposed to file their motions to dismiss.
The suit, filed last month in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, contends that Amazon along with Random House, Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and Macmillan signed contracts “specifically designed to limit the use of digital content” to various Kindle devices, while the publishers have not entered into any agreements with independent bricks-and-mortar or independent collectives to sell e-books.
The three named plaintiffs (The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza of Albany, N.Y.; Fiction Addiction of Greenville, S.C.; and Posman Books of New York City) seek to represent a class of independent brick-and-mortar independent bookstores, and are seeking an injunction prohibiting the publishers and Amazon from “selling e-books with device and app specific DRMs,” while also requiring the big six publishers to allow independent bookstores to directly sell “open-source DRM e-books.”