Today, the final piece of the Big Six puzzle fell into place. Months after the initial co-defendants in an antitrust lawsuit settled out of court, the remaining publisher, Penguin, settled with the attorneys general from 33 states for $75 million. This settlement comes less than a year after Penguin settled a similar claim with the Department of Justice.
“This proposed settlement is a powerful demonstration of what is possible when federal, state and private class antitrust enforcement lawyers work together,” said Steve W. Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman, in a statement issued by the firm today. “In this case, the level of cooperation was unprecedented, and the results that we were able to deliver to the states and consumers demonstrate that.”
All of the controversy in these court proceedings surround the claim that five of the Big Six publishers colluded with Apple to prevent Amazon from discounting the price of ebooks in order to further sales of Kindle e-readers. Industry professionals from every corner of the publishing world have weighed in on the issue since it was first raised in 2010, some in favor of the suit brought against allegations of price fixing, but others in support of taking down the corporate empire in Amazon.
Despite the lengthy proceedings, today’s statement from the lead counsel actually applauded the publisher for taking the initiative and taking step to move forward in the best interests of ebook consumers.
“Penguin’s senior management deserves credit for working with us and the attorneys general to reach a comprehensive agreement in such a hotly contested case,” said Jeff D. Friedman, Hagens Berman partner. “They’ve agreed to a settlement that will go a long way toward making e-book consumers whole and restoring a thriving, again-competitive e-book marketplace.”
While the terms of the settlement have been agreed upon, it is still ultimately up to the courts to decide if these terms meet the best interests of the consumers. Those proceedings will get underway later this summer, while the lawsuits brought against Apple are slated to begin next month.