Apple, Five 'Big Six' Publishers Accused of Ebook Conspiracy

Apr 12, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against Apple and five of the Big Six publishers. Included in complaint are  HarperCollins Publishers, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Group, and Macmillan. The DOJ alleges that Apple and the publishers conspired to raise the prices of ebooks by as much as $5, in an effort to prevent Amazon, which prices many of its ebooks at $10, from locking in what publishers believe is an artificially low price.

Attorney General Eric Holder said at a press conference that Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster had agreed to a settlement. The terms of the settlement, according to Holder, required "the companies to terminate their anticompetitive most-favored-nation agreements with Apple and other ebooks retailers."

Meanwhile, the attorneys general of 15 states are reportedly bringing separate complaints against Apple and the five publishers. The Associated Press has reported that in Connecticut and Texas, Hachette and Harper Collins have agreed to pay $52 million in restitution to consumers, "using a formula based on the number of states participating and the number of e-books sold in each state."