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Frequently Asked Questions

BASIC INFORMATION 

1. What are these lawsuits about?

Answer:

Antitrust lawsuits were filed by Class Plaintiffs and Attorneys General of thirty-three jurisdictions (“Plaintiffs”). These lawsuits claim there was a conspiracy involving five of the nation’s top publishers and Apple Inc. to fix and raise retail prices of E-books. 

The publishers, Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, known as Macmillan (“Macmillan”), Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (“Penguin”), Hachette Book Group, Inc. (“Hachette”), HarperCollins Publishers LLC (“HarperCollins”) and Simon & Schuster, Inc. and Simon & Schuster Digital Sales, Inc. (“Simon & Schuster”) have agreed to settle the lawsuits. These five publishers deny they have done anything wrong but have agreed to settle to avoid the cost and risk of trial.  These related cases are in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

The cases filed by the Attorneys General are called State of Texas, et al. v. Penguin Group (USA) Inc., et al., Case No.12-cv-3394 and Texas, et al. v. Hachette Book Group, et al., Case No.12-cv-6625. (“Et alia.” is a Latin phrase that means “and others.”)  The case filed by Class Plaintiffs is called In Re: Electronic Books Antitrust Litigation, Case No. 11-MD 2293.  This Court granted final approval of all Settlements on December 6, 2013. (See Question 20.)

The lawsuits continue against Apple Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

2. Who are the Publishers?

Answer:

There are five publishers who, as a group, are referred to on this website as “Publishers.”
The settling publishers are:
  • Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, known as Macmillan (“Macmillan”);
  • Penguin Group (USA) Inc. (“Penguin).
  • Hachette Book Group, Inc. (“Hachette”);
  • HarperCollins Publishers LLC (“HarperCollins”); and
  • Simon & Schuster, Inc. and Simon & Schuster Digital Sales, Inc. (“Simon & Schuster”).
To review the Publishers, Imprints and Divisions click HERE.

3. Why are there Settlements?

Answer:

The Court has not decided in favor of either side. The Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs who brought the antitrust lawsuits think the Settlements are best for everyone who is affected.  Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan and Penguin deny that they did anything wrong but have agreed to the Settlements to avoid the time, expense, and uncertainty associated with continuing the case.

WHO IS INCLUDED IN THE SETTLEMENTS?

4. How do I know if I am part of the Settlements?

Answer:

You are included in the Settlements if:
1. You purchased an E-book that was published by one of the five Publishers (all of the Publishers publish books under many different names, called imprints, See Question 6), and
2. Your purchase was made from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012, and
3. You were a resident of 1) a U.S. state or commonwealth, 2) the District of Columbia, or 3) one of the five U.S. Territories at the time of purchase. The billing address of the credit card you used to buy the included E-book(s) will be used to determine your residency.

The following people or entities are not included in the Settlements:
1. Residents of countries other than the United States and its territories and commonwealths are not included in the Settlements.
2. Only individuals are included.  Business, governments, libraries, non-profits, and other entities are not included.
3. Rental E-books, free E-books, and E-books received as gifts only are not included. (Only purchased E-books are included in the Settlements.  If you received an E-book as a gift, your gift is not included.  The person who purchased it for you may be included.)

Although residents of Minnesota are included in the Settlements, they will be subject to different conditions than other consumers and are encouraged to review the detailed notice for Minnesota only residents by clicking HERE or by calling 1-866-621-4153.
 

5. What is an E-book?

Answer:

In these Settlements, an E-book is an electronically formatted book designed to be read on a computer, a handheld device (including an e-reader or tablet), or other electronic device capable of visually displaying books.  In these Settlements, an E-book is not an audio book.

6. What is an imprint?

Answer:

Many of the Publishers have imprints or divisions within their companies that publish E-books that are included in the Settlements.  For example, Simon & Schuster has the imprint Wall Street Journal Books.  So, if you purchased one or more E-books from April 1, 2010 through May 21, 2012 that were published by any of the Publishers (including their divisions), you may be eligible for a payment or account credit. 

For a full list of all Publishers and their imprints click HERE.

7. How can I tell if my E-book purchases are included in these Settlements?

Answer:

If you received a notice by email or postcard, you purchased at least one qualifying E-book and are included in the Settlements. Your purchases are based on the records of the retailer(s) through which you bought your E-book(s).  (See Question 12 for how to get a payment.)

If you did not receive a notice, but think you may be included, you can research your purchases and the publishers of those E-books to determine whether you should have filed a Claim Form.  The deadline to file a claim form has passed.  For more information on what you must do to get a payment see Question 12 below.  To review the Publishers, Imprints and Divisions click HERE.

8. What if I'm still not sure the Settlements include my E-book purchase(s)?

Answer:

If you are still unsure if the Settlements include your E-book purchase(s), please call 1-866-621-4153 or email info@EBooksAGSettlements.com.  Additional retailer specific information is available on the Retailer Account Information page on this site.

9. Why are the Attorneys General involved?

Answer:

The Attorneys General of 31 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico filed these lawsuits.  These Attorneys General made claims on behalf of their residents under federal antitrust law based on their authority to bring lawsuits on behalf of their citizens.  Residents of the remaining 19 states and the other four U.S. territories are represented by Class Plaintiffs. 
 

THE SETTLEMENTS’ BENEFITS

10. What do the Settlements provide?

Answer:

The Settling Publishers have agreed to pay $166 million to customers who purchased E-books published by any of the five Settling Publishers.  Minnesota residents will be subject to different conditions than other consumers and are encouraged to review the detailed notice for Minnesota-only residents by selecting the Minnesota link found on this Settlement Website or by calling 1-866-621-4153.
 
The Settlements equal $166 million, which is approximately 77% of the damages estimated by Plaintiffs' experts for these five publishers.  The Publishers believe that damages, if any, were substantially smaller than the amount calculated by Plaintiffs.
 
If you bought one or more E-books that are included in the Settlements, you will be eligible for a credit or check representing part of your purchase price for each qualifying E-book.
 
The Settlements also include agreements by the Publishers to:
  • End certain agreements relating to the sale of E-books that were entered into prior to April 11, 2012;
  • Not place restrictions on retailers’ ability to offer discounts on E-books for two years;
  • Not  share sensitive competitive information with other publishers for five years;
  • Comply with antitrust laws and requirements, including the Department of Justice’s Final Judgment in a federal case about the same matters at issue in these lawsuits;
  • Train appropriate people in their companies about antitrust laws and regulations; and
  • Comply with other related orders of the Court regarding antitrust issues or anticompetitive conduct.
The Settlements also provide for payment to Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and expenses and payment for attorney fees, expenses and other payments to the Attorneys General.  Funds to pay these amounts do not come out of the money that will be used to pay consumers.
 
The lawsuits against Apple Inc. continue. Your rights against Apple Inc. in the lawsuits are not affected by any action you take in these Settlements. You do not need to exclude yourself from these Settlements to retain your rights against Apple Inc.

11. How much will my payment be?

Answer:

The amount of your credit or check will be affected by how many qualifying E-books you purchased. There will be two levels of payments, based on categories of E-books. The amount to be paid per eligible E-book are as follows:
  • New York Times bestsellers: $3.17 per E-book. These include titles that were New York Times bestsellers at any time, irrespective of when you purchased the E-book.
  • Non-New York Times bestsellers: $0.73 per E-book. These E-books include any titles that were not New York Times bestsellers.
The State of Minnesota did not participate in the first settlements between the State Attorneys General and Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Instead, class counsel represented Minnesota consumers and negotiated a settlement with these three publishers. This recent Minnesota-only settlement required payment of a higher percentage of damages than did the Prior Settlements. Minnesota residents will, therefore, receive a higher per-book payment than other consumers. Minnesota residents will also be subject to different conditions than other consumers and are encouraged to review the detailed notice found on the Minnesota only residents' website by clicking HERE or by calling 1-866-621-4153.

12. What do I have to do to get my payment?

Answer:

What you must do to get a payment depends on the retailer(s) through which you bought qualifying E-books.

Amazon CustomersEligible customers were sent a credit email notice from Amazon or a postcard check from the Claims Administrator on or around March 25, 2014.  Eligible Amazon customers did not need to do anything to receive a credit.
  • Eligible customers automatically received a credit to their customer accounts on March 25, 2014.
  • Customers who submitted a timely valid check request were mailed a postcard check on March 27, 2014.
  • Credits that are not used and checks that are not cashed by April 1, 2015 will be void.
For additional information, please visit Amazon's link on the Retailer Account Information page on this site.
Apple Customers:Eligible customers were sent a credit activation email notice or a postcard check from the Claims Administrator on or around March 25, 2014.  Eligible customers did not have to take any prior action to participate in these Settlements.
  • Customers receiving an account credit must activate their credit before it can be used. 
  • Customers must enter the "Activation Code" shown on your email credit notice on the Apple website to activate and use your credit.
  • Credits that are not activated and checks that are not cashed by April 1, 2015 will be void.
 
For additional information, please visit Apple's link on the Retailer Account Information page on this site.
Barnes & Noble or Kobo Customers:Eligible customers were sent a credit activation email notice from Barnes & Noble or Koko or a postcard check from the Claims Administrator on or around March 25, 2014.  Eligible customers did not have to take any prior action to participate in these Settlements.
  • Customers receiving an account credit are required to activate their credit.  Please review your credit activation email notice to determine the steps required to activate your credit. 
  • Credits that are not activated and checks that are not cashed by April 1, 2015 will be void.
For additional information, please visit Barnes & Noble's or Kobo's link on the Retailer Account Information page on this site.
Sony Customers:Eligible customers were sent a postcard check from the Claims Administrator on March 27, 2014.  Eligible customers did not have to take any prior action to participate in these Settlements.
  • Postcard checks that are not cashed by April 1, 2015 will be void.
For additional information, please visit Sony's link on the Retailer Account Information page on this site.
Google Customers and Consumers who made eligible E-book purchase(s) with a Retailer not shown above:Eligible consumers who filed a timely valid Claim Form were mailed a postcard check on March 27, 2014.
  • Postcard checks that are not cashed by April 1, 2015 will be void.
For additional information, please visit the Retailer Account Information page on this site.
The Retailers who have provided Settlement notice or any account credit are doing so voluntarily for your convenience.

13. When will I get a payment?

Answer:

Payments will be distributed and account credits issued on or around March 25, 2014.

14. I submitted a check request and received notice that an account credit was issued. What can I do to receive a check?

Answer:

At this time we are not able to change how your credit was issued. Retailers completed research to validate all of the check requests submitted but were not always able to link the Settlement ID Number entered on the request to a valid account. Due to the risk of issuing incorrect customer credits it was decided in these instances to issue credit to the customer‘s account. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and hope you will be able to use your account credit and enjoy the wide variety of e-Book or print books available. 

15. Will my payment expire?

Answer:

Credits that are not used or have not been activated and postcard checks that have not been cashed will expire on April 1, 2015. 

Please review your retailer specific information available on the Retailer Account Information page to confirm your credit activation requirements.

EXCLUDING YOURSELF FROM THE SETTLEMENTS

16. How do I exclude myself from the Macmillan and Penguin Settlements?

Answer:

The deadline to file an Exclusion Request from these Settlements has passed.  The deadline to submit an Exclusion Request was October 21, 2013. 

17. If I exclude myself from a Settlement, can I still get benefits from that Settlement?

Answer:

No.  You will not get any benefits from a Settlement if you exclude yourself from that Settlement.  You can exclude yourself from a Settlement with one Publisher, however, and participate in the Settlement with the other Publisher.

For each Settlement you opt out of, your Settlement Payment will be reduced by a certain percentage:
  • If you opt out of the Macmillan Settlement, your Settlement Payment will be reduced by 12.09%.
  • If you opt out of the Penguin Settlement, your Settlement Payment will be reduced by 45.36%.
  • If you opt out of the Hachette Settlement, your Settlement Payment will be reduced by 19.54%.
  • If you opt out of the HarperCollins Settlement, your Settlement Payment will be reduced by 12.06%.
  • If you opt out of the Simon & Schuster Settlement, your Settlement Payment will be reduced by 10.94%.
  • If you opt out of all the Settlements, you will not receive a Settlement Payment.

18. If I exclude myself from a Settlement, can I sue the Settling Publishers separately?

Answer:

If you excluded yourself, you may be able to sue the Publishers about the issues related to this case.  If you did not exclude yourself, you give up your right to sue the publishers about the issues related to this case.

If you excluded yourself from these Settlements you may still participate in the separate lawsuits against Apple Inc.

19. How do I object?

Answer:

The deadline to file an objection has passed.  The deadline to submit an objection was October 21, 2013.

20. What's the difference between objecting and excluding?

Answer:

Objecting is simply telling the Court that you don’t like something about the Settlement(s).  You can object to a Settlement only if you do not exclude yourself from that Settlement.  Excluding yourself from a Settlement is telling the Court that you don’t want to be part of the Settlement.  If you exclude yourself from a Settlement, you have no basis to object to the Settlement because it no longer affects you.

THE COURT’S FINAL APPROVAL HEARING

21. When and where will the Court decide whether to approve the Settlements?

Answer:

The reflected dates of the court hearings have passed. The court approved the Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster Settlements on February 8, 2013. The Court approved the Penguin and Macmillan Settlements on December 6, 2013.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

22. How do I get more information?

Answer:

This website summarizes the proposed Settlements.  More details are in the Settlement Agreements, which are available on the Important Documents tab of this website.  To find more information about your retailer and your account credit click HERE.  You may also email info@EBookAGSettlements.com or write with questions to E-book AG Settlements Administrator, P.O. Box 2825, Faribault, MN 55021-8630 or call 1-866-621-4153.

If you have further questions or need more information, please contact the E-books AG Settlement Administrator or your retailer only.  Do not contact the Court, the Publishers, the Class Plaintiffs or the Attorneys General.

23. What happens to any funds remaining after the distribution to consumers?

Answer:

If consumer funds remain after the initial distribution, the Settlement Agreements state that these funds should be saved for any future consumer distribution resulting from a settlement or judgment. Any funds left over from that distribution will be given to one or more charitable organization(s) whose purposes relate to reading, literacy or access by the public to electronic books or as otherwise directed by the Court. This is called a cy pres distribution. If a cy pres distribution is made, the percentage of any funds that can be attributed to purchases made by class consumers may be given to Reading is Fundamental, a non-profit organization dedicated to motivating children to become lifelong readers, or to another literacy group acceptable to the Court.

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