The US Department of Justice has settled with publisher Macmillan in a long-running e-book price-fixing lawsuit, says AllThingsD. “Under the proposed settlement agreement, Macmillan will immediately lift restrictions it has imposed on discounting and other promotions by e-book retailers and will be prohibited until December 2014 from entering into new agreements with similar restrictions,” a DoJ statement reads. “The proposed settlement agreement also will impose a strong antitrust compliance program on Macmillan, including requirements that it provide advance notification to the department of any e-book ventures it plans to undertake jointly with other publishers and regularly report to the department on any communications it has with other publishers. Also for five years, Macmillan will be forbidden from agreeing to any kind of most favored nation (MFN) provision that could undermine the effectiveness of the settlement.”
The lawsuit was launched nearly a year ago, and accused Macmillan as well as fellow publishers Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette of colluding with Apple to keep e-book prices high, through agreements connected to the iBookstore. Macmillan is the last of the publishers to settle in the case, leaving Apple to fend for itself. Apple hasn’t responded to today’s developments.
At the beginning of the suit, the company insisted that the allegations were “simply not true,” and that the iBookstore’s 2010 launch “fostered innovation and competition, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry.” The root of the case, though, revolves around charges that publishers were upset with Amazon’s low prices on e-books, and collaborated with Apple to ensure titles could be no cheaper than they are on the iBookstore — forcing prices to rise elsewhere.