U.S. Department of Justice proposes solution to Apple ebook price-fixing

The U.S. Department of Justice has proposed a solution to address Apple's ebook price fixing. The remedy places restrictions on how Apple makes deals with publishers, including the immediate termination of their current deals with five publishers, and forces Apple to change policy with regards to ebook apps linking to external stores for at least two years. Additionally, the order would have the court appoint an external antitrust monitor at Apple, says the DOJ release:

The monitor, whose salary and expenses will be paid by Apple, will work with an internal antitrust compliance officer who will be hired by and report exclusively to the outside directors comprising Apple’s audit committee. The antitrust compliance officer will be responsible for training Apple’s senior executives and other employees about the antitrust laws and ensuring that Apple abides by the relief ordered by the court.

Apple was found to have consipired to fix ebook prices on July 10. Apple has said that they plan to appeal the ruling, though their chances of success are very slim. The five publishers that had also been sued by the DOJ had previously settled last year.

One element of the DOJ's proposed remedy which is of particular interest is the ebook apps policy change. Currently, apps are not allowed to link to external stores, including ebook apps like Amazon's Kindle or Barnes & Noble's Nook app. The Kindle app recently found a workaround for this issue, but if the solution is accepted by the court, Apple will be forced to allow the Kindle, Nook, and other ebook apps to link to their companies' stores to allow customers to compare prices easily.

This proposal by the DOJ, along with others will be presented to the court in a hearing held later this month.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice