Apple found guilty of eBook price fixing, could prove very costly indeed

Apple has been found to have conspired with several publishers to raise the prices of eBooks in order to break Amazon's dominance of the market. It is a judgement that could change the face of digital publishing entirely.

US District Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple did work with publishers Lagardere, Hachette and Macmillan, HarperCollins, Penguin and Simon & Schuster in order to fix prices to eliminate competition in violation of antitrust law. Cote revealed that the conspiracy had raised book prices to $12.99 or $14.99, when Amazon had previously been charging $9.99.

She also called for a trial for damages, which could prove extraordinarily costly for the Cupertino company.

"The plaintiffs have shown that the publisher defendants conspired with each other to eliminate retail price competition in order to raise e-book prices, and that Apple played a central role in facilitating and executing that conspiracy," Cote said.

"Without Apple's orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010."

The five publishers concerned were not on trial, having previously settled out of court with the US government and states.

UPDATE: Apple has given Pocket-lint this statement about the judgement:

"Apple did not conspire to fix eBook pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations.

"When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon's monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We've done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge's decision."