GaS news — what happened next: June 2013

Continuing our look back at later developments to stories we brought you on Geeks Are Sexy this year, we turn our attention to June. The court hearing finally began in the battle between the US government and Apple over its role in the e-book market.

Specifically the government claimed that Apple and book publishers unfairly colluded to replace the traditional print book pricing structure (publisher sets wholesale price, retailer sets retail price and keeps profit) with the ‘agency model’ (publisher sets retail prices, retailer takes fixed percentage.) Several book publishers agreed to settle the case, but Apple went to trial where prosecutors portrayed it as the ringleader in effectively forcing Amazon to adopt the agency model.

Apple went on to lose the court case. The Department of Justice requested its punishment should be a ban on being allowed to use the agency model for the next five years. The publishers objected to this, saying they would inherently be affected by the punishment despite not losing a judgment, but the judge rejected this argument. She also ruled that Apple not be allowed to use most favored nation clauses (which say publishers can’t sell an e-book at a lower price than in the iTunes store) and appointed a DOJ official to monitor Apple’s behavior.

Apple is planning to appeal both the verdict that it broke the law, and the injunctions themselves. That appeal is expected to reach a courtroom some time in 2014, with some observers speculating the case may wind up in the Supreme Court.

A Kenyan firm successfully ran a Kickstarter campaign for BRCK, a modem designed for remote locations with unreliable connectivity. The one-box device can use a fixed-line broadband connection, but also supports Wi-Fi, 3G and 2G data services; it automatically switches to the best available connection, meaning it can often cope with local outages without interruption. The first units shipped to donators in November and developers Ushahidi have now spun out BRCK as a separate company with the intention of launching it as a commercial product.

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