After book publisher Macmillan announced on Friday that it was finally settling with the Department of Justice over the ebook pricing scandal, the company revealed that it will also settle with remaining class action and state-based lawsuits.
According to the agreement, Macmillan will create a settlement fund totaling $20 million USD. This money will be paid to consumers – those represented by 33 states' attorneys general and consumer-rights law firm Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro – who purchased ebooks during the inflated ebook pricing timeframe. As before, customers will see this money in the form of credits at ebook retailers.
"We were extraordinarily pleased that we could work alongside so many talented and dedicated attorneys general and the DOJ to present a unified front in dealing with Macmillan," said Steve Berman , managing partner of Hagens Berman and lead counsel for the proposed class of consumers. "We look forward to moving the consumer class-action litigation forward against the remaining defendants, Penguin and Apple."
Penguin, the fourth publisher to settle with the Department of Justice back in December 2012, has yet to reach settlements with the states or the class-action suit. Apple is still fighting all three lawsuits (DoJ, States, class-action) and is slated to appear in court this June.
"This is a big win for consumers and is a testament to the hard work of the Justice Department and state attorneys-general, all of who devoted significant resources to this case," said Berman. "We look forward to presenting the settlement to the court and getting funds distributed to consumers who were wronged by Macmillan's alleged anticompetitive behavior."
Macmillan said on Friday that it no longer had the resources to fight the lawsuits, blaming a "breathtaking" maximum possible damage figure that was more than the entire equity of the company as the reason. Macmillan was the last of the publishers to settle with the Department of Justice, and previously vowed that it would never settle. But analysts believe the publisher saw that its stand against the government had no effect on the lowering prices of ebooks, and gave up.
Macmillan was accused last year of conspiring with Apple and four other publishers to raise ebook prices across the board once the original iPad went retail. Emails collected by the government clearly revealed that the six parties involved feared Amazon's dominance in the ebook sector thanks to its popular Kindle and wholesale ebook pricing. They conspired to use an "agency model" which inflated ebooks at an artificially high level.