Sep 13th 2012 By: Lauren Davis
When California lawyer Bob Kohn tried to file his 55-page amicus brief to oppose the settlement in the Department of Justice ebook case US v. Apple Inc., et al.
, the court ordered him to whittle his argument down to five pages. So how does he present a detailed argument about the economics of ebooks, price-fixing and collusion in just five pages? He writes the entire thing as a comic
, making sure his brief stands out from the piles of text and probably making it the only legal brief many people read in their lifetimes.
The DOJ charged several ebook publishers with collusion to fix prices. The defendants, including Apple, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins and Macmillan, claimed that their price-fixing was a necessary response to Amazon's discounted ebook pricing in light of Amazon's monopsony on ebooks. But not everyone has agreed with the DOJ's findings. In this brief, filed in the Southern District of New York, Kohn argues that this sort of price-fixing is legal because it countervails Amazon's so-called "predatory" price practices of selling ebooks below marginal cost.
Kohn may not have been able to squeeze as much text into a five-page comic as could have in five pages of prose, but he accomplishes what 55 pages of text could not: he makes his point clear and accessible even to non-lawyers. Who ever thought that an argument about antitrust law could be so simple and engaging? Kohn's point is perhaps more persuasive because he was able to frame it as a brief comic dialogue.
The entire brief was posted by Law and the Multiverse
, a blog that covers the intersection of comics and the law. I very much recommend it to anyone who's ever wondered about Matt Murdock's legal ethics or whether the bankruptcy plot line in The Dark Knight Rises
is legally sound.
[Via Lowering the Bar