Apple Inc. has agreed to pay $400 million to settle allegations that the company conspired with publishers to raise e-book prices.
The settlement agreement, which still requires court approval, is contingent on Apple’s appeal of the New York federal court’s 2013 finding that the company worked with five major book publishers to artificially raise e-book prices.
If the federal court ruling is not successfully appealed, Apple will make $400 million in payments to consumers, according to the settlement of a class-action lawsuit filed by 33 states and territories. If the court reverses or changes its decision, Apple will be out much less money and consumers could get nothing.
Nevertheless, New York state Atty. Gen. Eric T. Schneiderman touted the settlement Wednesday as a major victory for consumers.
“This settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else,” he said in a statement.
After entering the e-book market in 2010 with the debut of the iPad, Apple allegedly made an arrangement with five major publishers - Penguin, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Hachette Book Group - to sign onto its new iBookstore using a different pricing model than the $9.99 flat rate charged by Amazon.
Those five publishers settled with the federal government in 2013 and set up a $166-million settlement fund for e-book customers.
Calls to Apple were not immediately returned Wednesday. In the past, the Cupertino, Calif., company has denied that it conspired to raise e-book prices.
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