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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Reaches Agreement with Penguin Group Inc. to Resolve E-Book Price-Fixing Allegations


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today the resolution of a multistate antitrust investigation against Penguin Group (USA), a U.S. book publisher, for price-fixing and collusion in the electronic book (E-book) market.


The agreement with Penguin must be approved by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When finalized, the agreement with Penguin will grant E-book outlets greater freedom to reduce the prices of their E-book titles. Consumers nationwide – including those represented by the attorneys general of the 33 states and territories and those represented by private counsel in a related class action – will receive $75 million in compensation.


“I am pleased that we have been able to resolve this matter before trial,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “Penguin’s agreement to allow greater freedom to reduce prices will ultimately be good for consumers.”


Under the proposed settlement agreement, which the court must approve, Penguin will compensate consumers who purchased E-books during the period of April 1, 2010, through May 21, 2012. Payments will begin 30 days after the court approval of the settlement becomes final, and may be combined with the prior settlements.


Wisconsin has previously settled with four other publishers: Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan for allegations relating to the same conduct. Consumers nationwide will receive $164 million in compensation as a result of the settlements with the five publishers. Wisconsin consumers of E-books can expect to receive a total of $2.4 million from the combined settlements. Van Hollen and the Attorneys General of 32 other states, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice, are still scheduled to go to trial against Apple in June, 2013 relating to this same conduct.


Assistant Attorney General Gwendolyn Cooley represents the State of Wisconsin in this matter.