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Dept. of Justice Rules on Ebook Pricing

A judge has upheld the price-fixing settlement brought by the Department of Justice. Under this ruling, three publishers, (others settled out of court) Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster will have to “negotiate new contracts with eBook retailers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.” This ruling gives pricing power back to retailers, and bars publishers from setting eBook prices for a period of two years, and “retailers may not lose money on any one publisher’s catalog of eBooks.”

Details from Digital Book World state: “The settlement addresses the illegal acts and their effects that were alleged in the complaint and does not otherwise cause harm to the market,” said Jay Levine, a partner in the D.C. office of Birmingham, Ala.-based law firm Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, who specializes in antitrust law and has been following the e-book price-fixing case. “The Judge noted that she can only be concerned about the markets alleged in the complaint and not any other ancillary markets. Additionally, even if the acts were designed to counter Amazon’s alleged monopolizations, the Judge noted that two wrongs do not make it right and that the alleged conspiracy is still illegal. You cannot enter into a price fixing agreement to counter some other competitive evil, and the Judge sees this case as a run of the mill price fixing case,” he added.

Complete details of the settlement can be found at Digital Book Worlds website.

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