The Macmillan publishing house has agreed to pay about $20 million to settle ebook price-fixing charges. It's the last of five publishers to settle the charges.
Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Macmillan would create a settlement fund totaling $20 million from which claims to consumers who purchased e-books would be paid. In addition, the publisher has agreed to lift restrictions on discounting for e-books and will not be allowed to enter into new agreements restricting prices until December 2014.
Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro, a Seattle consumer-rights law firm, 33 state Attorneys General and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) reached the settlement Friday.
The settlement resolves claims filed by the DOJ, numerous state governments, and a class-action suit brought by Hagens Berman on behalf of a nationwide class of consumers.
Earlier, Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C. and Simon & Schuster Inc. agreed to pay a total of more than $69 million to consumers to resolve the claims. Hagens Berman’s complaint estimated that the scheme may have increased the prices of many e-books by as much as 50 percent by eliminating the ability of retailers to offer discounts.
Macmillan was the last of five defendant publishers to settle claims brought by the DOJ. In that case, Apple is the only remaining defendant, with a trial scheduled for June, 2013. In the consumer class-action case, Penguin and Apple have not agreed to a settlement.
The settlement must be approved by the court before funds can be distributed.