E-book buyers will soon get settlement payments from Apple price-fixing case

Many buyers will get credits from their e-book retailers

Some buyers of e-books will begin to receive payments Tuesday as part of a settlement in a price-fixing case against Apple.

People who purchased e-books between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, will receive credits from e-book sellers, or will get a check if they opted out of receiving credits, according to Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a consumer-rights class-action law firm involved in the lawsuit against Apple.

As part of the Apple settlement of the case, e-book buyers will receive US$6.93 for every purchase that was a New York Times bestseller and $1.57 for every other e-book. The settlement covers e-books purchased from Apple as well as from other retailers, including Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.

Apple's settlement for e-book purchasers amounts to $400 million. The book publishers paid out $166 million, and that money also went to book buyers.

The law firm called the settlement one of the most successful damage-recovery efforts in U.S. antitrust law.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple and five book publishers in 2012.  

The DOJ accused Apple, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Macmillan, Penguin Group and Simon & Schuster of conspiring to raise prices in retaliation for Amazon.com pricing most e-books at $9.99 beginning in late 2007. 

In early 2010, publishers agreed to shift to a new pricing model where they, instead of retailers, set the prices for e-books, the DOJ alleged. Apple and the publishers conspired to set e-book prices at $12.99 and $16.99, the agency charged.

In March, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Apple's appeal of a lower court's ruling against the company, and that decision triggered the settlement payment process.

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Grant Gross

IDG News Service
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