Apple will pay $450 million as part of the US state lawsuit against it claiming the company conspired to raise the price of ebooks to consumers. Pending an appeal effort from Apple, $400 million of that could be going back to consumers, which would add to an earlier $166 million book publishers agreed to pay out as part of an earlier settlement.
"This settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else," New York Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement. "In a major victory, our settlement has the potential to result in Apple paying hundreds of millions of dollars to consumers to compensate them for paying unlawfully inflated E-book prices. We will continue to work with our colleagues in other states to ensure that all companies compete fairly with the knowledge that no one is above the law."
In a statement, Apple said once again that it believes it did nothing wrong, and that it's still waiting on an appeal:
Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing, and we will continue to fight those allegations on appeal. We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it. The iBooks Store has been good for consumers and the publishing industry as a whole, from well-known authors to first-time novelists. As we wait for the court to hear our appeal, we have agreed to a settlement which is contingent on the outcome of the appeal. If we are vindicated by the appeals court, no settlement will be paid.
Apple agreed to a settlement with the states last month, though the amount was not finalized. Reuters reports that the total amount could be reduced completely, or be trimmed with a reversal by a 2nd Circuit US Court of Appeals judge down to $70 million, with $50 million of that going back to consumers. The new $450 million tally is set up so that $400 million would go to consumers only if the court's decision that Apple violated antitrust laws gets affirmed.
The original complaint, filed by the Department of Justice, accused Apple and five major US publishers of conspiring to set ebooks prices and pricing models in order to target Amazon. The individual publishers settled, leaving Apple the sole party. Following a trial, US District Court Judge Denise Cote found Apple liable for antitrust violations, saying the Justice Department's case was compelling. Apple then appealed Cote's decision with the 2nd Circuit in February, saying the ruling turned antitrust laws "upside down."