DOJ: Toss the cartoonist's appeal out of e-book case

The U.S. Department of Justice says Bob Kohn, who filed some of his arguments as a cartoon strip, has no standing in the case involving five book publishers and Apple.

Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Greg Sandoval
2 min read
Part of the cartoon strip filed with a federal court by eMusic founder Bob Kohn. Bob Kohn

Bob Kohn, the founder of eMusic and apparently an amateur cartoonist, has had his laughs but he has no standing in an antitrust case involving five top publishers and Apple, the U.S. Department of Justice argued this week.

Kohn is trying to stop the settlement agreement between the DOJ and three of the five publishers accused earlier this year of conspiring with Apple to raise e-book prices. A U.S. District Court denied Kohn's motion to intervene in the case, and he filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

On Tuesday, DOJ lawyers filed a motion asking that Kohn's appeal be dismissed. The DOJ seemed to suggest that Kohn's attempt to intervene wasn't serious when they noted that he filed an amicus brief in the lower court that was in comic-strip form. Kohn also responded to the DOJ's objections to his brief with a comic strip. The strip shows Kohn as cartoon figure making his arguments to his daughter.

No doubt that Kohn, an antitrust lawyer who founded eMusic in 1998 and is now CEO of RoyaltyShare, wins points for humor and creativity, but the government says he has no place in this litigation.

DOJ lawyers noted that the lower court rejected his arguments because the final settlement "does not bind Kohn and he does not identify any personal interest affected by it...Kohn lacks standing to pursue this appeal."

In April, the DOJ reached a settlement agreement with Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group, News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers, and Simon & Schuster (owned by CBS, which publishes CNET).

Apple, Macmillan Publishers (owned by Germany's Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck holding company), and Pearson PLC's Penguin Group have not settled the case. The three accused publishers that have settled have agreed to allow Amazon and Barnes & Noble to reduce the prices of their e-books.