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US sues Apple and publishers over ebook pricing, three publishers settle quickly (update)

US sues Apple and publishers over ebook pricing, three publishers settle quickly (update)

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Bloomberg is reporting that the US has filed an antitrust suit against Apple and Hachette — confirming reports that the US Department of Justice would pursue the companies over ebook pricing.

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Bloomberg is reporting that the US has filed an antitrust suit against Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Penguin — confirming reports that the US Department of Justice would pursue the Apple and publishing companies over ebook pricing. The DOJ's actions come after a year-long investigation into Apple and publishers, after Apple switched to an "agency" model that is said to have resulted in an industry-wide price increase — with only a few sellers in the market setting prices. Last month it seemed that publishers were ready to settle with the DOJ, and it appears that some are still prepared to do so: Bloomberg reports that Simon & Schuster, Hachette Book Group, and HarperCollins want to avoid a legal battle and could settle with the government today. Others, like Penguin Group, are reportedly ready to fight in court.

Meanwhile, Apple and Macmillan deny that they have colluded to raise prices on digital books, and Bloomberg reports that the companies still refuse to engage in settlement talks.

Update: Bloomberg reports that Simon & Schuster, Hachette, and HarperCollins have already agreed to settle with the US government. Based on the DOJ's complaint, it's likely that the companies have agreed to move away from the agency model, which is at the core of the antitrust allegation.

Update 2: The Department of Justice has confirmed a settlement with Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster. US Attorney General Eric Holder says that if approved by the court, the settlement would resolve DOJ's antitrust concerns with these companies, and require them to give retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble the ability to reduce prices on ebook titles. The settlement also requires the companies to end their "anticompetitive most-favored-nation agreements with Apple and other ebook retailers." Holder says that "as a result of this alleged conspiracy, we believe that consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles" — and that the US will continue to litigate against Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin over ebook pricing.

Check out our complete breakdown and analysis of the DOJ's complaint for more info on this story!

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