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Second Circuit Affirms Apple E-Book Decision

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy with major publishing companies to raise the prices of ebooks accessed on its devices, as the Justice Department had alleged and a lower court had found.

Apple appealed the 2013 decision, and accompanying injunction, by a New York Federal District court. The Second Circuit on Monday affirmed that decision.

"We conclude that the district court correctly decided that Apple orchestrated a conspiracy among the publishers to raise ebook prices, [and] that the conspiracy unreasonably restrained trade," the court concluded

"We are gratified by the court’s decision," said assistant attorney general Bill Baer, who heads up the antitrust division. "The decision confirms that it is unlawful for a company to knowingly participate in a price-fixing conspiracy, whatever its specific role in the conspiracy or reason for joining it. Because Apple and the defendant publishers sought to eliminate price competition in the sale of e-books, consumers were forced to pay higher prices for many e-book titles".

Early on, News Corp. subsidiary HarperCollins and CBS-owned Simon & Schuster settled with the Justice Department over the allegations they and two other publishers conspired with Apple.

An Apple spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.