Yeah, We know, “The Wheels of Justice Grind Slowly”, But This is Ridiculous

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

Don’t be surprised if the Macmillan booth at next year’s Book Expo America is set up in the courtroom of Judge Denise Cote. It happens that the date when the Department of Justice’s e-book price-fixing lawsuit is scheduled to commence, June 3, 2013, is also the first day of BEA.

Publishers Lunch‘s Michael Cader, reporting plans for the trial, says that Judge Cote “wants to move the trial swiftly.”

A year to begin arguments is swift?

While we understand that this is a very big case on which a lot is at stake and on which law could possibly be made, the idea of waiting a year for the proceedings to get under way while the entire publishing industry plus Apple and even Amazon twist in the wind feels like the very thing for which the maxim “Justice delayed is justice denied” was created.

Particularly hard hit is Macmillan. Says Cader: “They argued for a ‘more extensive’ trial schedule because they ‘have already produced hundreds of thousands of pages in extensive discovery over the course of a two-year investigation conducted by the DOJ and the States…over a far-longer span of time than the plaintiffs are now proposing, and it still stretched Macmillan’s resources to the maximum.’ Macmillan also calls their burden ‘entirely asymmetrical’ since the DOJ ‘have disclosed they have relatively little data and documents to produce beyond the contents of their investigative files.”

It’s hard to believe that the distractions and the expenses being borne by the accused publishers will not filter down to the day to day business of our industry in terms of editorial and financial decisions. Perhaps that’s what is meant by the other half of that legal maxim – “But they grind exceeding fine.” We are really worried that books and authors are going to be ground to bits in the excruciating wait for justice to be done.

Richard Curtis

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