DOJ proposes ways to halt Apple e-book price-fixing

Apple would need to pay for an external monitor, sever deals with publishers, and let Amazon and Barnes & Noble link their iOS e-book apps to their respective online stores, among other proposed measures.

Following a court ruling last month that Apple conspired to fix prices of digital books, the Department of Justice on Friday proposed measures "intended to halt Apple's anticompetitive conduct, restore lost competition, and prevent a recurrence of the illegal activities."

The measures are still subject to court approval and may not be adopted in full.

Among the measures, Apple would need to let other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble provide links to their respective e-bookstores from their iOS apps, "allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple's prices with those of its competitors."

In addition, Apple would need to end its agreements with the five major publishers linked to the conspiracy -- Hachette, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck (also known as Macmillan), Penguin, and Simon & Schuster. (Disclosure: Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, which is the parent company of CNET.)

Apple would be prevented from "entering into contracts that would, in any way, fix the price that any of its competitors charge for content." The company would also need to refrain for five years from "accepting limitations on its own ability to price-compete with respect to e-books."

Likewise, Apple could not funnel information among the conspiring publishers and couldn't retaliate against them for refusing to set prices.

The department also asked for an external monitor, paid for by Apple, to oversee Apple's internal antitrust compliance policies.

The proposed remedies are in line with what the Department of Justice has said it would ask for. The court will hold a hearing on proposed remedies on August 9.

Last month in a quick decision, a federal judge ruled that Apple had conspired to fix e-books prices , handing the U.S. government a major win.

CNET will update this story as we learn more.

 

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