Apple agrees to pay US$450m to resolve e-books price fixing row

17 Jul 2014

Apple has agreed to stump up to US$450m to resolve claims that the maker of the iconic iPad tablet computer conspired with five major publishers to fix e-book prices.

According to the New York attorney general Eric T Schneiderman, the court has yet to approve the settlement.

Apple hopes it will resolve claims for consumer damages and civil penalties brought by New York and 32 other states and territories across the US.

“This settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else,” said Schneiderman.

“In a major victory, our settlement has the potential to result in Apple paying hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers to compensate them for paying unlawfully inflated e-book prices. We will continue to work with our colleagues in other states to ensure that all companies compete fairly with the knowledge that no one is above the law.”

It is understood that e-book publishers across the US have already received compensation from US$166m in settlements paid by five publishers involved in the conspiracy to fix prices.

The five publishers include Penguin Group (USA), Inc (now part of Penguin Random House); Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan; Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; and Simon & Schuster Inc.

Many e-book consumers received these funds through automatic credits sent by Amazon and other e-book retailers.

Apple has denied it conspired to fix e-book prices and will appeal its case.

“We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it,” an Apple spokesperson said.

E-book image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years