November 10 Tuesday

United States v. Apple: Competition in America; Chris Sagers

  • Tuesday, November 10, 2020 at 12:00PM - 1:30PM
  • Zoom
  • Open To The Yale Community
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In 2012 the Department of Justice accused Apple and five book publishers of conspiring to fix eBook prices. The evidence overwhelmingly showed an unadorned price-fixing conspiracy that cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet before, during, and after the closely watched trial, Americans remained very divided over the case, and many, all across the political spectrum, sided with the defendants. Pundits on the left and right condemned the government for its decision to sue, decrying Amazon’s market share, railing against a new high-tech economy, and rallying to defend authors and publishers. Many critics thought Amazon should have been on trial. But why? 

In this presentation, Chris Sagers, James A. Thomas Distinguished Professor of Law at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, uses the Apple eBooks litigation as a case study to untangle much broader problems in American competition policy, both as it currently exists in this case of technological disruption and as it has existed more generally. He shows that, in fact, Americans have always been ambivalent about competition and competition policy, and that their ambivalence largely explains why antitrust has rarely worked well. Using competition as a public policy means making peace with its sometimes rough consequences, and Americans have rarely pulled that off. And so, while we are often said to value markets and free enterprise, perhaps uniquely in the world, it seems in the end that Americans don't really believe in competition at all.   

Chris Sagers is the James A. Thomas Distinguished Professor of Law at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law.

 Please contact Heather Branch at for the zoom link.


Sponsoring Organization(s)

Information Society Project (ISP) and Thurman Arnold Project (TAP@Yale)