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08-31-2013, 04:02 AM #1
Publishers Propose Payout Prices for E-Book Settlement
Two of the publishers that were deemed to be colluding with Apple in the iBookStore price fixing antitrust case against Apple have already begun contacting former customers alerting them that a “plan of distribution” has been proposed to the court for a final settlement payout. Penguin and Macmillan, two of the five publishers have already created a site explaining to potential claimants how they can claim their portion of the settlement the two publishers houses reached with the DOJ. Part of the plan includes a combining of the $93.21 million from the Macmillan and Penguin settlements with $69.04 million from prior settlements into a central fund, to be distributed at a later date.
If accepted by the court, the proposal would grant customers who purchased a New York Times bestseller from the iBookStore to $3.06 per title, while those purchasing other titles would be entitled to $0.73 per book. Minnesota residents may receive a higher price per e-book as the state’s representation did not participate in the earlier settlements between state attorneys general and Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Counsel representing Minnesota consumers successfully negotiated a higher yielding settlement with the three publishers.
The most recent notification applies only to customers that bought books from Penguin or Macmillan through iTunes. Payments are said to be distributed to claimants following a hearing on December 6, 2013, assuming all appeals are resolved.
For those of you who don’t know, in July U.S. District Court Judge Denise Cote found Apple guilty of e-book price fixing. The publishers had been accused alongside Apple, which had long since settled with the DOJ by the time her decision was handed down. The DOJ requested that an external antitrust monitor be installed at Apple so as to ensure that the company no longer engages in anticompetitive action. The DOJ is also calling for changes to the way purchases work when filed through the Kindle app on an iOS device.
Although its publishing partners have given in, Apple has continued to resist the DOJ’s actions. Apple’s counsel entered a memo into court records saying that the e-book trial was “plainly improper” and that the Department’s recommendations would lead to an unfair advantage for Amazon, which is the dominant player in the e-book segment at the moment.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens next.