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Apple faces e-book price-fixing lawsuit in Canada too

The first domino fell last week in the U.S. when the DOJ sued Apple and its publishing partners claiming collusion over pricing of e-books. A class action lawsuit in Canada now claims the same.


According to the Montreal Gazette, a local lawyer has seized an opportunity to sue Apple on behalf of any Canadian citizen who has purchased an e-book over the last two years, piggybacking on the U.S. Department of Justice's recent lawsuit (video), claiming Apple and its publishing partners colluded to fix the prices of e-books and drive down competition.

The Canadian class action suit was filed in February in Quebec Superior Court by Montreal lawyer Norman Painchaud, asserting that Apple (in tandem with its publishing partners) had conspired to raise prices of e-books from the $9.99 previously commonly found on Amazon.com.

There are currently three similar suits in Canada, all seeking damages for any Canadians who have purchased an e-book. For his part, Painchaud said, he feels that since the prices of e-books have gone up, consumers should get paid.

Of course, in matters such as these, the solutions are generally not that simple. Though Apple certainly created an agency model with publishers -- an agreement that made the pricing of e-books identical if they were to be included in Apple's iBookstore -- Apple maintains that publishers, and publishers alone, are the ones who set the actual prices.

Apple has welcomed the DOJ accusations and plans to fight the charges in court in the U.S.

The case is interesting for a number of reasons, but with Amazon controlling the lion's share of the e-book market, a position it gained by underselling other e-book outlets (and taking a loss) in order to sell more Kindle units, it seems particularly odd that the DOJ would claim Apple is being anticompetitive.

The class action suits in Canada seem to be using the same basic logic against Apple. Even Painchaud admits the court proceedings could take years of litigation, though with some publishers already settling in the U.S., a partial conclusion could be reached soon.

Are the accusations against Apple valid or have the U.S. DOJ and these Canadian class action suits overstepped? Let me know your opinions in the comments!