DoJ moves to seal e-book pricing agreement

DoJ moves to seal e-book pricing agreement

The Department of Justice has filed a motion with Judge Denise Cote asking her to approve the final judgment that the US government has reached with Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins in the lawsuit over collusion with Apple about e-book price fixing.

According to Publishers Weekly, the motion also detailed the actions the DoJ expects the publishers to take and a schedule for those actions. 

Under the agreement, the three publishers will have seven days after the judgment is finalised to terminate its agency model agreement with Apple and to enter a new period of sale agreement. Any other e-tailer that has an agreement with the three publishers that it feels impedes its ability to "set, alter, or reduce the retail price of any e-book or to offer price discounts" can ask to be released from the agreement, according to the DoJ wording.

The publishers will be prohibited from restricting, limiting or impeding an e-book retailer's ability to control the price of any e-book for a period of two years, and will also not be able to enter into a most favoured nation clause with any e-book retailer.

Other elements to the settlement include publishers being prohibited from talking to each other about "sensitive information", including business plans, pricing strategies for books in any format, any terms in its agreements with any retailer, or author. Communication between publishers about other business areas such as the enforcement of intellectual property or contract rights will be permitted.

To make sure the publishers are complying with the agreement, within 30 days after entry of the final judgment each publisher must designate an antitrust compliance officer, who will then be responsible for ensuring that certain employees undergo four hours of training annually on the the "meaning and requirements of this final judgment and the antitrust laws", and report any violations of the agreement.