Hawaii part of $69 million settlement over E-Book Price-Fixing

Photo Credit: Wikipedia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii Attorney General David M. Louie, along with 53 attorneys general in other states, districts and U.S. territories, announced Tuesday that they have reached an antitrust settlement with three of the largest book publishers in the United States.

Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., and Simon & Schuster Inc. have agreed to pay a total of more than $69 million to consumers to resolve antitrust claims of an alleged unlawful conspiracy to fix the prices of electronic books (E-books).

They have also agreed to change the way they price E-books going forward.

"Our legal action sends a strong message that competitors cannot get away with price-fixing," Attorney General Louie said. "Colluding to fix prices raises costs for customers, who, in this case, have paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular E-Book titles. Today's settlement with three publishers paves the way for restitution for those consumers harmed by the scheme."

Consumers in Hawaii could receive up to $300,000 in total compensation. The settling defendants will also pay approximately $7.5 million to the states for fees and costs.

In addition to paying the $69 million consumer compensation, Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster have agreed to terminate their existing agency agreements with certain retailers, requiring the publishers to grant those retailers–such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble–the freedom to reduce the prices of their E-book titles.