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Canadian antitrust watchdog reaches ebook agreement with Apple, publishers

Why it matters to you

Amazon and others can now offer more discounted ebooks than before.

Apple and several book publishers might have passed the final stage of their long-running ebook price-fixing dispute with United States officials, but the guilty parties recently arrived at that stage with Canada’s Competition Bureau, Reuters reports.

The dispute began in 2010, when Apple was initially accused of ebook price fixing in an effort to prop its own iBooks above competitors like Amazon, a popular destination for ebook purchases. In 2012, 33 U.S. states and the Justice Department sued Apple and book publishers Hachette, Simon & Schuster, Penguin, and others, with the latter group accused of setting prices in order to gain leverage over Amazon.

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Apple claimed innocence over the years since the lawsuit and suggested in its appeal that its actions increased competition in the ebook space. Furthermore, the company argued that ebook prices have gone down since iBooks’ introduction in 2010. The appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied in March 2016, three years after Apple was found guilty of having conspired with book publishers, which forced Apple to cough up $450 million to affected customers as part of a settlement.

Fast forward to 2017 and Canada’s Competition Bureau, the country’s antitrust watchdog, reached an agreement with Apple and three ebook publishers, which include Hachette, Macmillian, and Simon & Schuster. The agreement, which allows Amazon, Kobo, and other retailers to offer discounts for ebooks released through the aforementioned three publishers, was reached after the Competition Bureau completed its investigation into the matter.

A similar agreement was not reached with HarperCollins, though the Competition Bureau filed an application that will try and halt its alleged anticompetitive practices.

The investigation concluded that the companies conspired to have ebook prices be no lower than those found on the iBooks Store. This left Canadian residents with higher ebook prices if they wanted to buy ebooks through other retailers, though the agreement should leave their wallets a bit more at ease.