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February 08, 2013

Final Settlement Reached in Case of E-Book Conspiracy

By Jody Ray Bennett, TMCnet Contributing Writer

Macmillan publishing settled with the Justice Department over an alleged case of conspiring to raise e-book prices with several other publishers, Yahoo! News reports.

“Macmillan and the Justice Department filed the proposed settlement, which requires a judge's approval, in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.”

The allegations became formal in April of 2012 when five publishers were accused of manipulating prices of their e-books to fight the dominance of Amazon.com (News - Alert) Inc.

Among those alleged conspirators were Apple, and Pearson Plc's Penguin Group. The Penguin Group settled in December, but the Justice Department is still pursuing Apple (News - Alert) over the allegations.

Apple rebuffed the allegations, instead claiming that no collusion was present, and all the agreements were signed individually, as opposed to together. Apple further stated in court documents that the suit, “sides with monopoly, rather than competition," referring to Amazon's market dominance in the e-book realm.

A civil trial to further investigate the allegations against Apple is scheduled for June.

Apple, however, is not the only company with growing concerns over Amazon.com's top position. Barnes & Nobles chimed in too, saying they were concerned about a possible Amazon market monopoly.

Under the new proposed settlement, Macmillan will lift restrictions on discounting on e-book sellers, and would be required to report any communications it has with the retailers to the Justice Department.

If the settlement is agreed upon, cheaper e-books will be right around the corner.

"Expect the prices of Macmillan's e-books will also decline," Jamillia Ferrisaschief of staff of the department's Antitrust Division, said in the news release, as what happened after settlements with the other publishers.

Macmillan's John Sargent criticized the settlement, saying they would, “have a very negative and long term impact on those who sell books for a living.”, and that they did not collude.




Edited by Rich Steeves
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