DOJ floats Apple ebook price fixing remedies

Summary:The U.S. government has submitted proposals for Apple to remedy antitrust concerns, after a Manhattan court found the technology giant guilty of conspiring to fix ebook prices.

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Image: CNET

Apple was found last month in July to have violated antitrust law by conspiring to fix ebook prices in conjunction with five publishers. 

Now the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) is proposing measures to prevent Apple "from conspiring to thwart competition in the future," according to the head of the government department's antitrust division.

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Apple violated antitrust law in ebook price fixing conspiracy

In breach of U.S. federal antitrust law, Apple and five other publishers conspired to fix and raise ebook prices in order to undercut Amazon's dominant position in the market.

Apple was found to have colluded with Hachette Book Group Inc., Macmillan, News Corp.'s HarperCollins, Pearson Plc., Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster (which is owned by CBS Corp., the parent company of ZDNet), which all settled with the U.S. government earlier this year.

Despite  Apple's continued claims  that it "did not conspire to fix ebook pricing," the Justice Department said it was a "victory for millions" of ebook readers.

Apple said it will appeal the decision.

The DOJ and 33 state attorneys-general requested in a court submission that contracts between Apple and the five named ebook publishers are nullified and re-signed to specifically prevent Apple from competing on price with rivals and other ebook providers, reports the AP.

The regulators would also like to see links between Apple and other ebook providers, such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon, to make it easier for consumers to compare prices.

According to sister site CNET's Joan Solsman, the move would be a "win" for Apple's competitors by making it easier for consumers to buy books on their iPhones or iPads.

Among the other measures, the DOJ suggests that Apple could be monitored by an external unit, paid for by Apple, to oversee the company's internal antitrust compliance policies.

A hearing to discuss remedies will be held on August 9. Another trial is yet to be scheduled on damages. 

Topics: Apple

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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