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Texas AG Greg Abbott, 32 Other States Reach Antitrust Agreement With Macmillan Publishers

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A publisher has resolved a multistate antitrust investigation with Texas and 32 other states.

Holtzbrinck Publishers, doing business as Macmillan, has agreed to settle the states’ allegations that Macmillan colluded with other major publishers and Apple Inc. to manipulate prices in the E-book market.

“Unlawful collusion and price-fixing not only violates antitrust laws, it is anti-competitive and inconsistent with the free market approach that is critical to our economy,” said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

“Today’s agreement with Macmillan provides refunds to customers who paid artificially inflated prices for E-books and prohibits Macmillan from colluding with other publishers and undermining retail price competition in the E-book market,” Abbott continued.

Consumers across the nation, including those represented by the attorneys general of the 33 participating states and those represented by counsel in a related class action will receive $20 million in compensation.

Nearly eight percent of E-book purchasers nationwide are Texas customers.

The agreement must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The agreement, when finalized, will grant E-book outlets more freedom to reduce the prices of their E-book titles.

The same U.S. District Court gave final approval on Friday to agreements reached by the states and book publishers Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., and Simon and Schuster Inc., relating to the same conduct.

Affected customers of those three companies will receive $69 million in restitution.

Antitrust action against publisher Penguin Group Inc. and Apple Inc. remains pending, with trial scheduled in June 2013.

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