Indiana consumers to get $2.6M in refunds from e-book antitrust case

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller Tuesday announced Hoosier electronic book customers would receive refunds as a result of a multistate price-fixing case involving five major U.S. publishers.

About 370,000 Indiana e-book buyers will receive more than $2.6 million in refunds over the next three days as a result of settlements reached between the publishers and 33 state attorneys general, including Indiana. Refund amounts will range from about $0.73 to $3.17 per e-book, with the higher amounts for those on the New York Times best seller list.

"Customers were ultimately the ones harmed by the decision made by Apple and these publishers to set e-book prices in order to knock out competition," Zoeller said. "Many states and the federal government worked diligently together to hold the parties responsible and ensure consumers were refunded."

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice and 33 states filed lawsuits against Apple Inc., Hachette Book Group Inc., HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc., and Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC d/b/a Macmillan over allegations the companies conspired to artificially raise the retail prices of e-books. In July 2013, Apple Inc. was found to have violated antitrust laws, and the company is currently appealing the decision. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York approved the settlements with the publishers in December 2013.

Overall, 23 million e-book customers nationwide will receive more than $166 million as a result of these multi-state settlements. The refund amount will be applied either as an account credit or made out in the form of a check, and will be based on the number of eligible e-books a consumer purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012. Whether a consumer receives a credit or check depends on the retailer through which the e-book was purchased:

  • Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Kobo or Sony: These consumers should have received email notice from the retailer or from the settlement claims administrator, advising how to use or activate credits in their current accounts. Sony customers should have received email notice from the administrator which is also responsible for dispersing refund checks.
  • Google or any other retailer: These consumers were required to file a claim form by Oct. 21, 2013, in order to receive a check from the administrator. 
All eligible consumers could have requested to receive a check by the administrator if they filed a "check request" by Oct. 21, 2013. For more information on the settlements visit the settlement website.