Idaho consumers could get $2 million from Apple e-books settlement

newsroom@idahostatesman.comJuly 16, 2014 

Idaho consumers could receive up to $2 million in reimbursements from a settlement of an e-book price-fixing lawsuit, according to Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden.

Idaho and 32 other states and territories sued Apple Inc. and five of the six largest e-book publishers in 2012, alleging the companies conspired to cut retail-price competition in a scheme to charge more for e-books. A judge ruled last year that Apple violated antitrust laws by conspiring to drive up prices, but Apple is appealing the ruling.

The publishers — Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster, Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC and Penguin Group (USA) Inc. — already settled the allegations with states and sent about $800,000 of checks and credits to Idaho e-book consumers this year.

The Apple settlement is subject to approval by a federal judge. The timing of payments to consumers will depend on what happens in Apple's appeal.

"This is a significant resolution to a lawsuit that sought to bring fairness to Idaho consumers harmed by higher prices and restore competition in the marketplace," Wasden said. "I am pleased to know that Idaho e-book buyers who took an unfair hit to their pocketbooks because of the illegal activity by Apple will be compensated."

Idaho buyers made about 0.5 percent of all e-book purchases nationwide.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, of the South District of New York, found that Apple was central in planning and executing a conspiracy to eliminate retail price competition, in violation of state and federal antitrust laws.

The settlement is subject to approval by a federal judge.

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