Settlements in e-book price-fixing suit

Aug. 30, 2012 at 7:18 PM

NASHVILLE, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- Buyers of e-books could get restitution following a price-fixing settlement with three of the largest book publishers in the United States, authorities said.

Fifty-four attorneys general in states, districts and U.S. territories have reached an antitrust settlement with Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC and Simon & Schuster Inc.

The companies have agreed to pay more than $69 million to consumers to resolve antitrust claims of an alleged unlawful conspiracy to fix the prices of electronic books and have also agreed to change the way they price e-books in the future, a release from the Tennessee Attorney's General's office, one of those involved in the litigation, said.

A civil antitrust lawsuit alleges the three companies along with Macmillan and Penguin, who have not settled, along with Apple conspired to fix prices for e-books.

The complaint alleges the publishers agreed to increase retail e-book prices for all consumers and to eliminate e-book retail price competition between e-book outlets regardless of where the consumers bought their e-books.

"This collective action should send a strong message that competitors cannot get away with price-fixing," Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper said. "We will do everything within our power to stop competitors from colluding to artificially raise the costs the prices by millions of dollars more for some of the most popular e-book titles."

Under the proposed settlement agreement, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will compensate consumers who purchased e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.

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