Apple is fighting the U.S. Department of Justice over claims that it colluded with publishers to fix ebook prices. However, in Europe the company has agreed to settle the case and has offered to overhaul its pricing model for ebooks.

The US Department of Justice is claiming that Apple’s supposed conspiracy with book publishers has caused "unmistakable consumer harm". Apple claims that the Department of Justice has sided with monopoly (Amazon) rather than competition in bringing a case of ebook price-fixing against Apple.

In Europe, however, Apple has settled the eBook price fixing case. Back in April European Union competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia said Apple and all the publishers, other than Penguin, had agreed to settle, at least in Europe.

Apple and four publishers (excluding Pearson/Penguin who hasn’t agreed to settle) have now offered to overhaul their pricing model in Europe. 

As part of the proposal, Apple has promised to terminate so- called agency agreements with the four companies and Pearson. In addition, they will allow retailers to set their own prices on titles for two years.

The EU is asking rivals and customers to comment on the offer by Oct. 19 before accepting, according to Bloomberg.

European Union antitrust regulators began their investigation of Apple and various publishers back in December 2011. That probe is targeting Apple’s deals with Hachette Livre, Harper Collins, Simon & Schuster, Penguin and Macmillan. According to the European Commission (press release here) the investigation would examine whether the publishers were: “…with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area, in breach of EU antitrust rules.”

Follow Karen Haslam on Twitter / Follow MacworldUK on Twitter


Department of Justice: Apple caused 'consumer harm' with eBook conspiracy