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Karl A. Racine
Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia

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DC Residents to Receive $602,000 from E-Books Price-Fixing Settlements

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Ted Gest, Public Information Officer
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Consumers in the District of Columbia will begin receiving account credits or checks this week due to a partial settlement of a 2012 E-book price-fixing lawsuit involving the District and 32 states, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said today. The lawsuit was brought by the District and the states against Apple, Inc. and five of the six largest E-book publishers in the country.  The E-book publishers -- Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan, and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. -- settled the claims against them for a multi-million-dollar nationwide payment, of which approximately $602,000 will be distributed to District residents.  The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved the settlements.

District consumers will be compensated based on the number of eligible E-books purchased by the consumer between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.  The compensation will either be in the form of an account credit or a check depending on the retailer through which the E-book was purchased, and, in certain circumstances, on whether a claim was properly filed or on whether a consumer specifically requested a check.  Eligible consumers should review their email for communications from their E-book retailer, or from the Settlement Administrator, regarding account credits or checks.  For more information on the settlements, consumers should visit www.ebookagsettlements.com.

Apple declined to settle the claims against it, and the court conducted a three-week trial in June 2013.  After that trial, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote found that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.  A second trial to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay for that violation is expected later this year.  If this trial results in a damages judgment against Apple, District consumers will receive additional account credits or checks.
Attorney General Nathan said that, “Our consumers are entitled to a competitive marketplace, free of collusion. We are pleased that D.C. purchasers of e-books are about to receive some compensation for the past anti-competitive practices in the industry and we are hopeful that the amounts will be increased after the upcoming damages trial against Apple."