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Judge finds Apple conspired to raise e-book prices

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A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled Wednesday that Apple Inc. colluded with major U.S. publishers to artificially raise the retail prices of e-books.

The lawsuit, in which Indiana joined in May 2012, alleged that Apple, MacMillan and Penguin Group planned to raise the prices of e-books, violating state and federal antitrust laws. Once Apple joined the e-book market in 2010, the suit claims that the two publishers conspired with Apple to shift their distribution model from retailer outlets like Amazon to a model that would allow publishers to set their prices and sell the books directly to customers. This allowed the publishers to charge more for the e-books, which forced other e-book retail outlets to increase their prices.

The plaintiffs – the U.S. Department of Justice and 32 other states –  sought damages, restitution, civil penalties and injunctive relief.

“Federal and state laws are designed to ensure the market remains competitive and fair,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said. “This ruling emphasizes the importance of accountability in the E-book marketplace and highlights how the states and the federal government can work together to protect consumers.”

A separate trial on damages will be held at a later date.

The plaintiffs have already settled with five major U.S. publishers regarding allegations relating to the same conduct. Zoeller said together those settlements will result in Indiana residents receiving $2.7 million in refunds.

More information about the refund process can be found at www.ebooksagsettlements.com or by calling the Indiana attorney general’s office at 1-800-382-5516.

 

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