Apple may have been found guilty of anti-trust in the legal system - a ruling that the company is appealing - but things aren't as clear cut in the court of public opinion, and the whole thing just keeps getting murkier and murkier. The five publishers that were originally named in the suit are unhappy with the terms of Apple's punishment, which would require that Apple be allowed to discount its ebooks for five years - even though the original settlement between the publishers and the DOJ agreed to two years. Publishers are calling this punitive, meanwhile, Apple intends to appeal the court's ruling and has requested a stay of all the court's rulings until its appeal can be heard. The request to stay the rulings was denied. Judge Denise Cote is also reportedly considering limiting Apple to negotiating with one publisher per every six months.
The DOJ insists that the consequences for Apple are not meant to further impact publishers, but, of course, they do. The justice department also seems to think the publishers are itching to get back to price fixing, as it said in a response, that there "is reason to believe the Publisher Defendants may be positioning themselves to pick things back up where they left off as soon as their two-year clocks run."
Meanwhile, consumers and authors are caught in the middle. While consumers no doubt love the idea of lower ebooks prices, authors that hope to make a profit from their work have supported Apple and the publisher defendants since the beginning. According to Mac Observer:
"It's pretty clear that the DOJ isn't happy with the way Apple entered into the ebook market. By pushing forward with the trial the DOJ essentially endorsed Amazon's business model where it sells ebooks below cost, and ultimately pushes other retailers out of the market because they can't afford to sell at a loss."
The ultimate result of this case will have far reaching implications for publishers, writers, and the future of the publishing industry. If the verdict in the Apple case stands, and the Amazon model wins this battle, it will be a blow to the already suffering publishing industry which just hasn't quite figured out how to make money from ebooks.