Kansas consumers who have purchased e-books may be entitled to credits or refunds from two publishers following the partial resolution of a multistate antitrust investigation, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has announced.
Kansas, along with 32 other states and territories and class action counsel, has reached agreements with Penguin Group (USA), Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, d/b/a Macmillan to settle allegations that Penguin and Macmillan colluded with other major publishers and Apple, Inc., to manipulate prices in the e-book market.
“Consumers have the right to a fair price, set by the marketplace, for products they purchase,” Schmidt said. “Our office is dedicated to ensuring a fair and competitive marketplace where prices are determined by supply and demand, not by price fixing.”
The agreements with Penguin and Macmillan must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When finalized, the agreements will grant e-book outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles.
Eligible consumers will be contacted and offered refunds or customer credits to compensate for over-charges on previous e-book purchases. Consumers nationwide will receive $75 million in compensation from Penguin, and $20 million from Macmillan.
Kansas has previously settled with three other publishers – Hachette Book Group, Inc., HarperCollins Publishers, L.L.C., and Simon & Schuster, Inc. – for allegations relating to the same conduct. Consumers nationwide will receive another $70 million in compensation as a result of the settlements with those publishers.
The Kansas antitrust action based on the same allegations against Apple, Inc., remains pending with trial scheduled in June.