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Steve Jobs email to James Murdoch in, biographer's interview notes out: Apple v DOJ ebook case

Karen Haslam | March 7, 2013
Steve Jobs will not be heard from beyond the grave in Apple's ebook spat with the US Department of Justice. However, an email that Jobs sent to James Murdoch will be seen

Steve Jobs will not be heard from beyond the grave in Apple's ebook spat with the US Department of Justice. However, an email that Jobs sent to James Murdoch highlighting the difficulties faced due to Amazon's $9.99 ebook price point will be included in court.

Walter Isaacson's notes from the interviews he did with Steve Jobs when writing the late Apple CEO's autobiography, will not be used in court during the Apple verses the US DOJ ebook case. Isaacson will not have to testify either.

The DoJ had wanted to use the section of the autobiography in which Jobs discussed Apple's entry into the ebooks market, comparing it to an "akido move" in the hopes of taking out rival Amazon, as evidence in the case.

Apple had responded, claiming that the quote was "hearsay" and "irrelevant."

Isaacson had been subpoenaed to be part of the case, despite laws designed to protect journalists and their sources. PaidContent claims that Isaacson refused to hand over his notes and invoked a New York law that allows journalists to shield their sources in many situations.

Now court documents show that both parties have agreed to drop Isaacson from the case.

Steve Jobs email to James Murcoch

While the notes from the interviews with Jobs will not be heard, various emails sent by the late CEO will be examined. These include an email sent to James Murdoch, senior executive at News Corp, parent company of HarperCollins.

In the email, which can be read here, Jobs suggests that HarperCollins has three choices:

"1. Throw in with Apple and see if we can all make a go of this to create a real mainstream ebooks market at $12.99 and $14.99.

"2. Keep going with Amazon at $9.99. You will make a bit more money in the short term, but in the medium term Amazon will tell you they will be paying you 70% of $9.99. They have shareholders too.

"3. Hold back your books from Amazon. Without a way for customers to buy your ebooks, they will steal them. This will be the start of piracy and once started there will be no stopping it. Trust me, I've seen this happen with my own eyes."

Apple is now alone in its battle with the Department of Justice over the accusation that it conspired with publishers to fix ebook prices. In the US the five publishers named in the case with the DOJ have all settled. In a similar case in the European Union, Apple and four publishers have already come to an agreement with regulators.

The DOJ is seeking a judicial decree that Apple violated antitrust law, according to court papers. Such a judgment could make Apple vulnerable to steep damages in related litigation.

 

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