A JUDGE has approved a settlement between the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and three book publishers over ebook price fixing claims.
US District Court Judge Denise Cote in the Southern District of New York approved the proposed settlement between the DoJ and the Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins and Simon & Schuster on Thursday.
The DoJ filed the antitrust case against Apple and book publishers Hachette, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster back in April.
The complaint accused the firms of colluding to keep ebook prices high, and US Attorney General Eric Holder said that they had agreed to shut out online sales. The price increases apparently were agreed upon in reaction to Amazon.com pricing most ebooks at $9.99 beginning in late 2007.
According to Reuters, Cote said comments on the settlement were "voluminous and overwhelmingly negative", but there was no excuse for price fixing.
"The proposed final judgment appears reasonably calculated to restore retail price competition to the market for trade e-books, to return prices to their competitive level, and to benefit e-books consumers and the public generally," Cote wrote.
The settlement requires that the publishers have to allow retailers to set their own prices for ebooks, prohibiting the publishers from discussing price points with competitors for the next five years and limiting retailers from offering discounts for two years. It also requires publishers to end their ebook sales agreements with Apple.
Apple, Macmillan and Pearson's Penguin Group have denied the claims and said they will fight the DoJ's lawsuit, with a trial due to start on 3 June next year.
We are awaiting statements from the book publishers and Apple following the ruling. µ
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