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E-Book Settlement Payments Begin In Apple & Publisher Price Fixing Scheme

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Some Texans will receive account credits or checks this week as a result of settlements with some of the nation’s largest e-book publishers.

The restitution payments come from an investigation by 33 state attorneys general into the publishers’ conspiring with Apple, Inc. to fix e-book prices.

Under national agreements negotiated by Texas and Connecticut, and joined by the attorneys general of 31 other states, the publishers agreed to compensate customers who overpaid for e-books to settle the states’ allegations that the publishing houses conspired with Apple to artificially inflate e-book prices.

The claims were settled for a nationwide payment of $166 million. Around $12.7 million will be distributed to Texas e-book purchasers, who make up about eight percent of all e-book purchasers nationwide.

The five publishers are Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; Simon & Schuster Inc.; Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, doing business as Macmillan; and Penguin Group USA Inc.

Texas e-book purchasers will receive an account credit or check based on the number of eligible e-books the customer purchased during the claims period of April 1st, 2010 to May 21st, 2012. More information is available at www.ebookagsettlements.com.

The states’ antitrust enforcement action against Apple based on the same allegations remains pending. Apple declined to settle the states’ allegations, causing the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held a three-week trial in June of 2013.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote found that Apple “Played a central role in facilitating and executing” a conspiracy to eliminate retail price competition, which is a violation of federal and state antitrust laws. A second trial on damages is scheduled to take place later this year, which could lead to more account credits or checks for eligible e-book customers in the future.

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