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$69 million ebook settlement reached with three publishers, Apple remains in suit

Three of the publishers involved in the antitrust suit levied by the U.S. Department of Justice against Apple and others have officially reached a settlement, with $69 million going to consumers as a result, Baltimore's ABC 2 reported on Thursday.

Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will issue the payouts and agreed to terminate agency pricing contracts with publishers such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This pricing model, which mirrors Apple's 70-30 revenue split with software developers on the App Store, includes a "most favored nation" clause that blocked Amazon from discounting bestselling ebooks below cost as it moved to secure its overwhelming share of the ebook market.

ABC 2 said Apple, along with Amazon, Google, Sony, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, agreed to contact eligible customers via email and that the amount issued will either be a check or credit toward future purchases. The amount of restitution is varied by state and affects books sold under the agency model by all five publishers (the above publishers plus Penguin and Macmillan, called the "Agency Five") between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012.

A couple of weeks ago, Apple blasted the proposed settlement, which involves renegotiating contracts with the publishers, saying it was unfair and unlawful. The trial against those who remain in the antitrust suit -- Penguin, Macmillan and Apple -- is scheduled to begin in June 2013.

The settlement will go into effect 30 days after being approved by a federal judge.

[Via The Verge]

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