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Apple agrees to pay up to $450 million in e-book price-fixing case

Apple, Publishers Sued Over Alleged E-Book Price ConspiracyApple, Publishers Sued Over Alleged E-Book Price Conspiracy
A digital book is displayed on an Apple iPad.Bloomberg—Getty Images

Apple has agreed to pay up to $450 million in its conditional settlement over allegations that the company conspired with several big publishers to fix e-book prices.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the terms of the accord between Apple (AAPL) and attorneys general in 33 states and territories on Wednesday afternoon. The two sides avoided a jury trial by agreeing to settle last month, a year after a New York federal judge agreed with the states that Apple violated antitrust laws, but the terms of the deal had been made public until today. Apple is currently appealing that ruling in federal appeals court and has even said it could take the case all the way to the Supreme Court in order to secure a reversal.

“This settlement proves that even the biggest, most powerful companies in the world must play by the same rules as everyone else,” Schneiderman said in announcing the agreement.

The settlement calls for Apple to pay $400 million to compensate consumers and another $50 million to cover attorneys’ fees for the states, according to court filings. But the deal is also conditioned upon the result of Apple’s pending appeal of last year’s ruling. Should the federal appeals court reverse the previous decision against Apple, the company could end up paying only $70 million, including $50 that would go directly to consumers, or Apple could end up paying nothing.

The five publishers named as Apple’s co-defendants in the case previously agreed to pay $166 million to compensate e-book purchasers.

“Apple did not conspire to fix ebook pricing, and we will continue to fight those allegations on appeal,” Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said in a statement. “We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it.”

Huguet also claimed that Apple’s iBooks store has been a boon to both consumers and the publishing industry, “from well-known authors to first-time novelists.” She reiterated that the settlement is conditional and that Apple could wind up paying nothing if the company wins its appeal.