But the DoJ’s investigation and a related civil lawsuit touch on issues bigger than rising e-book prices or even collusion between publishers. The cases are also about who has the right to sue e-book publishers, the nature of publishers’ bilateral interactions with Apple and other retailers, and whether it’s even possible for a true agency model to exist for virtual goods like e-books.
...there are three major points of law at stake in both the class-action suit and the Justice Department investigation against Apple and the five publishers:
- Whether and how the agency model applies to virtual goods;
- Whether Apple and publishers engaged in a “hub-and-spoke” conspiracy or simply “conscious parallelism”;
- The status of the “most-favored nation” clause, common to many legal contracts today, which Apple used to ensure that books could not be sold elsewhere at a lower price than in the iBooks store.