cover image United States v. Apple: Competition in America

United States v. Apple: Competition in America

Chris Sagers. Harvard Univ, $29.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-674-97221-6

Cleveland-Marshall College of Law professor Sagers uses the 2012 Apple e-book price-fixing case to explore opposing attitudes toward antitrust policy in his persuasively argued debut. On the facts, the case against Apple wasn’t close, according to Sagers: the evidence “overwhelmingly” established that Apple and five major publishers had conspired to eliminate price competition from the nascent e-book market. But what made the case remarkable, Sagers writes, was the public’s reaction to it. Critics on the left excused the conspiracy as “the last stand” of an embattled publishing industry. Those on the right saw the case as unwarranted government intrusion. And virtually everyone thought that Amazon, the supposed victim of the conspiracy, was the real threat. Through an array of concisely rendered, instructive examples from law and history, Sagers explores the public backlash to the Apple case as a “microcosm” of the broader political and societal dilemmas that have effectively hamstrung modern antitrust enforcement. The lasting lesson of the Apple case, he concludes, is that public support is crucial to good antitrust enforcement, and regaining public favor requires fixing the law’s current shortcomings and enforcing antitrust statutes “for real.” Readers following the recent calls for antitrust action against the tech industry will find this account instructive and timely. (Sept.)