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Apple begins appeal of e-book ruling, $450 million in fines on the line

Apple begins appeal of e-book ruling, $450 million in fines on the line

December 15, 2014

In July 2013, U.S. District Judge Court Denise Cote concluded that Apple conspired with five major publishers to drive up the cost of e-books. Today, Dec. 15, the Second U.S. Court of Appeals is scheduled to begin hearing Apple’s appeal, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Justice Department’s original complaint said that Apple agreed with publishers in January 2010 to allow them to set a higher price for best sellers and new releases in response to the publishers’ “Amazon problem”: a $9.99 price point for those books on the bookseller’s website. As a result, prices for e-book best sellers rose to $12.99 and $14.99, the government claimed.

On Monday, the court will consider whether the deal amounted to “a deft market maneuver or an illegal conspiracy.”

Earlier this month, Apple’s Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, talked with Fortune. He negotiated with five of the six major publishers to convince them to join the iBooks Store when it launched in 2010.

Cue said he would “do it again,” but “take better notes.”

“Is it a fact that certain book prices went up?” asks Cue. “Yes. If you want to convict us on that, then we’re guilty. I knew some prices were going to go up, but hell, the whole world knew it, because that’s what the publishers were saying: ‘We want to get retailers to raise prices, and if we’re not able to, we’re not going to make the books available digitally.’ At the same time, other prices went down too, because now there was competition in the market.”

If Apple fails to overturn the settlement on appeal, consumers could be in line for $400 million. Lawyers will receive the other $50 million.

See also: Apple tugs at heartstrings with new holiday TV ad ‘The Song,’ featuring Mac, iPhone and iPadFormer iTunes engineer testifies against Apple in iPod antitrust lawsuit, and Android lead developer Google launching new ‘Route 85′ Web series for iOS developers.

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