CONSUMERS RECEIVE RESTITUTION IN E-BOOKS SETTLEMENT

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March 26, 2014

LITTLE ROCK – Some Arkansas consumers who have purchased electronic books will begin receiving account credits or checks this week as the result of a settlement with five of the nation’s largest e-book publishers.

Approximately $1 million will be distributed through credits or direct payments to Arkansas consumers, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said. McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to let eligible Arkansans know about the expected restitution from e-book publishers.

About $1,097,155 in restitution payments will be directed to Arkansas consumers. The account credit or check will be based on the number of eligible e-books purchased by a consumer during the period from April 1, 2010, to May 21, 2012. Whether a consumer receives a credit or check depends on the retailer through which the book was purchased, and, in certain circumstances, whether a claim was properly filed or whether a consumer specifically requested a check.

Eligible consumers should check their email for information or notices from their e-book retailer or from a settlement administrator. For more information on the settlement, consumers may also visit www.ebookagsettlements.com.

“Consumers should rightfully expect prices to be determined through a fair, open and competitive marketplace,” McDaniel said. “Antitrust laws ensure that companies that collude to fix prices must be held accountable for their actions. In this case, consumers across the country who paid millions more than they should have had to pay for e-books will receive the restitution that is due to them.”

McDaniel and other state attorneys general from across the country sued five of the six largest e-book publishers in the country and Apple Inc., accusing the companies of conspiring to fix the prices of e-books. The publishers – Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Simon & Schuster Inc., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan and Penguin Group (USA), Inc. – settled the claims against them for a total nationwide payment of $166 million.

The settlements were the result of a two-year investigation by McDaniel and the attorneys general of 30 other states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

Apple did not settle the claims against it, and in federal court in New York last year, Apple was found to have played a central role in facilitating and executing a conspiracy to raise e-book prices in violation of federal antitrust laws. A hearing to determine the amount of damages Apple must pay to consumers is scheduled for this year, and additional account credits or checks may be distributed to Arkansas consumers in the future.

For more information about the settlement or about other consumer issues, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, www.GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982.

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