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Consumers to receive refunds from settlement of e-book price fixing lawsuit

mark herringAttorney General Mark R. Herring announced that, beginning this week, Virginia consumers will receive approximately $4.3 million in restitution stemming from the partial settlement of a lawsuit brought in 2012 by Virginia’s Office of Attorney General and 32 other attorneys general across the country. The suit alleged that Apple Inc. and five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country conspired to fix the price of e-books.

“As attorney general, I will not tolerate anti-competitive practices that drive up prices and  violate the rights of consumers,” said Attorney General Herring. “Consumers should be able to trust that they are participating in a market that is free from manipulation. These publishers and Apple violated that trust and I am  pleased to see that consumers are receiving the restitution they deserve.”

Consumers who are eligible for restitution should have received e-mail communications from their e-book retailer or the settlement administrator with relevant details. The amount of each consumer’s refund will be based on the number of eligible e-books purchased by the consumer between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012. Procedural details for claiming restitution vary depending on the retailer used to purchase e-books. Further information about the settlements may be found at www.ebookagsettlements.com.

The publishers accused of price fixing-Hachette Book Group Inc.; HarperCollins Publishers LLC; Simon & Schuster Inc.; Holtzbrinck Publihsers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan; and Penguin Group (USA) Inc.-settled the claims against them for a total nationwide payment of $166 million. Apple declined to settle the claims against it, but was found by a U.S. District Court to have violated federal and state antitrust laws by conspiring to eliminate retail price competition in the market for e-books.  A trial to determine the damages caused by Apple’s violation has been tentatively scheduled for this summer, and may result in further compensation for consumers.

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