Los Angeles attorney Louis Shapiro, who represents high-profile criminal defendants in both federal and state court, said, “This isn’t your traditional extortion.

“It is usually, ‘If you don’t give me something then I will reveal or report something.’ The person usually wants money,” he said.

Shapiro said California and federal law defines extortion as the “depriving of property or attempting to do so by threatened force, violence or fear. Shapiro said it is clear AMI was seeking something from Bezos, but the question is whether that contract is actually property.

“They didn’t demand money, just an agreement,” he said. That makes it far harder to prosecute, he said. “You rarely see this kind of extortion case filed involving lawyers. Things can get muddy between lawyers.”