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Thursday, 08 August 2013 08:49

Publishers object to Apple punishment

Written by Nick Farrell

No discounts on iTunes

Five of the largest US publishers fear new restrictions sought by the US government against Apple Inc for illegally conspiring to raise e-book prices may prevent Jobs’ Mob discounting. The publishers have told a US court that a proposed final order in the case would effectively prevent Apple from entering agreements that limit its ability to discount books.

Provisions proposed by the US Justice Department would punish the publishers rather than Apple. They had already reached settlements with the federal government and dozens of states, paying $166 million to benefit consumers.

"Despite achieving their stated goal of returning price competition, plaintiffs now seek to improperly impose additional, unwarranted restrictions on the settling defendants, thereby depriving each publisher of the benefit of its bargain with plaintiffs," the publishers wrote.

The Justice Department accused Apple of conspiring to undercut Amazon's e-book dominance, causing some e-book prices to rise to $12.99 or $14.99 from the $9.99 that the online retailer charged.

The government has asked the court to require Apple end contracts with the five publishers and be prevented for five years from entering contracts that the Justice Department says would restrict Apple from competing on price. Apple would also be forced to hire an internal antitrust compliance officer and employ a court-appointed external monitor.

Nick Farrell

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