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Publishers urge DOJ to rethink Apple e-book remedies

Five of the major publishers are urging the Justice Department to rethink its proposed remedy that calls on Apple to change its e-book pricing plan.

Five of the major book publishers are now urging the Department of Justice to rethink its demands on Apple to change the way it sells e-books.

Hachette, HarperCollins, Holtzbrinck (also known as Macmillan), Penguin, and Simon & Schuster filed an opposition to last week's proposed remedies against Apple by the Justice Department, arguing that the plan would "effectively eliminate the use of the agency model" for e-book distribution for the next five years.

"...Under the guise of punishing Apple, they effectively punish the Settling Defendants by prohibiting agreements with Apple using an agency model," the publishers wrote, adding that the move "directly conflicts" with the settlements the publishers reached with the Justice Department before the Apple case went to trial.

"Despite achieving their stated goal of returning price competition, Plaintiffs now seek to improperly impose additional, unwarranted restrictions on the Settling Defendants, thereby depriving each publisher of the benefit of its bargain with Plaintiffs," it goes on to say.

The filing was spotted late Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal (subscription required).

The "agency" model is where publishers set e-book prices to retailers, while retailers get a commission. That's as opposed to the "wholesale" model, where publishers set the list price and the retailers can sell it at whatever price they want. (Read CNET's in-depth explainer here.)

The filing is a direct response to a set of remedies the Justice Department proposed for Apple following the tech giant's loss in the e-books price-fixing case last month. The three big pieces of that proposal were that Apple would end its existing agreements with the five major publishers, let other e-book publishers link to their own bookstores in iOS apps, and staff an antitrust monitor to evaluate its business for five years.

Apple fired back last week, calling the government's proposals vague, overreaching, unwarranted, and even "draconian."

A plan from either side still requires court approval. A hearing on the proposed remedies is set for this Friday.

(Disclosure: Simon & Schuster is owned by CBS, which is the parent company of CNET.)

You can read the whole filing below:

Ebooks Opposition