Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Attorney General Koster reaches agreement with Penguin Group Inc. to resolve e-book price-manipulation allegations

                                                                                                  May 22, 2013

                                                                            (Official press release from Missouri General)                                              

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today announced the resolution of a multistate antitrust investigation against a major U.S. book publisher for price-fixing and collusion in the electronic book (e-book) market. Missouri has reached an agreement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc. to settle Missouri’s allegations that Penguin colluded with other major publishers and Apple Inc. to manipulate prices in the e-book market.
The agreement will grant e-book outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles. Consumers nationwide – including those represented by the attorneys general of the 33 states and territories participating in the agreement and those represented by private counsel in a related class action – will receive $75 million in compensation.
Missouri has previously settled with four other publishers: Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan on allegations relating to the same conduct. Consumers nationwide will receive $164 million in compensation as a result of the settlements with the five publishers.
"Our legal action sends a strong message that companies cannot get away with price-fixing," Koster said.  "These publishers' behavior cost consumers millions of dollars, but the settlements we have reached will lead to compensation for those consumers."
The funds from this settlement are expected to be combined with the earlier settlements’ funds for a nationwide distribution following court approval.  Distribution will be made based on consumer purchases of e-books.  Depending on how consumers made their purchases, they will be offered payment options including account credits or cash payments.  Online sellers are expected to provide e-mail notice to account holders and additional notices will be published with claims instructions.
Missouri's antitrust action against Apple Inc., based on the same allegations, remains pending with trial scheduled in June 2013.

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