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States reach $69 million settlement with three publishers in e-book price fixing case

Dana Wollman, @danawollman
August 30, 2012
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When the US Department of Justice sued Apple and five major book publishers over alleged e-book price rigging, it immediately became clear that a few of these companies would do just about anything to avoid trial. That same day, three of the publishers -- HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Hachette -- elected to settle with the DoJ. Now, those same three publishers have reached an agreement in 49 states (all but Minnesota), wherein consumers will receive a combined $69 million in compensation.

Specifically, the payout applies to people who bought agency-priced e-books between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. Interestingly, the payout includes folks who bought e-books from Macmillan and Penguin, even though those two publishers aren't settling. As for making sure people get paid, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google, Sony, Apple and Kobo have agreed to identify and contact affected customers. According to ABC News, most of these retailers will give customers the option of receiving a check or a credit toward future purchases. Sony, meanwhile, will automatically issue checks, while Google will direct customers to an online submission form where they can file a claim. Whatever the method, payments are expected to begin 30 days after the settlement is approved. The DoJ settlement, which is separate from the agreement with the 49 states, is still awaiting clearance.

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