In recent years, we have seen the rapid growth – and the many benefits – of electronic books. E-books are transforming our daily lives, and improving how information and content is shared. For the growing number of Americans who want to take advantage of this new technology, the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that e-books are as affordable as possible.
As part of this commitment, the Department has reached a settlement with three of the nation’s largest book publishers – and will continue to litigate against Apple, and two additional leading publishers – for conspiring to increase the prices that consumers pay for e-books.
Earlier today, we filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, against Apple and five different book publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster. In response to our allegations, three of these publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster – agreed to a proposed settlement. If approved by the court, this settlement would resolve the Department’s antitrust concerns with these companies, and would require them to grant retailers – such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble – the freedom to reduce the prices of their e-book titles. The settlement also requires the companies to terminate their anticompetitive most-favored-nation agreements with Apple and other e-books retailers.
In addition, the companies will be prohibited for two years from placing constraints on retailers’ ability to offer discounts to consumers. They will also be prohibited from conspiring or sharing competitively sensitive information with their competitors for five years. And each is required to implement a strong antitrust compliance program. These steps are appropriate – and essential in ensuring a competitive marketplace.