The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

March 25, 2014

Alabama consumers to be reimbursed in e-books price-fixing case

— Alabama consumers will receive $1.956 million as part of a $166 million national settlement over price-fixing of electronic books or e-books.

The lawsuit, brought by Alabama and 30 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, claims there was a conspiracy involving five of the nation’s top publishers and Apple Inc. to fix and raise retail prices of electronic books.

Many of the payments will be electronically transmitted this week to the accounts consumers used to buy the books. In cases where the account cannot be determined, consumers will receive checks by mail.

All five publishers — Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon and Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC doing business as MacMillan, and Penguin Group USA Inc. — were allowed to deny wrong doing and settle the case to avoid the cost and risk of a trial.

However, a trial is expected sometime this summer to determine damages due to consumers from Apple Inc., which declined to settle.

An investigation launched in 2010 by Texas and Connecticut led to the lawsuit.

If you were ripped off

If you bought one or more electronic books between April 1, 2010, and May 21, 2012, published by any of the five publishers you may be eligible for a partial refund of the purchase price. The amount of individual refunds will be based on the number of eligible e-books purchased during the claims period.

Consumers should look for upcoming email communications from their retailer or from the lawsuit settlement administrator.  More information is available on the settlement website at www.ebookagsettlements.com.

This agreement settles claims brought in 2012 by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange and 32 other attorneys general against five of the nation’s six largest e-book publishers.

“I am pleased that we have been able to recover nearly $2 million due to Alabamians, and that the entirety of this settlement is being used to compensate consumers for their damages,” Strange said.

Other parties receiving part of the $166 million settlement include Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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