Publishers file objection to DoJ’s e-book settlement proposal on Apple’s behalf

iBooks Bookshelf on iPad

The Wall Street Journal is reporting this evening that the five book publishers who settled with the US government in the e-book antitrust case have filed an objection with the court on Apple’s behalf.

In the filing, the companies argue that the Department of Justice’s settlement proposal for Apple, which it submitted last week, would violate their settlement agreements they had before the trial began…

Last Friday, the DoJ proposed a settlement for Apple, recommending that the ‘agency model’ deals it has with publishers be nullified and that it allow competitors to sell e-books from within their apps.

Here’s The Journal’s Chad Bray:

“In a court filing Wednesday afternoon, the publishers said that the U.S. Department of Justice’s demands on Apple would eliminate the use of the “agency model” for the sale and distribution of e-books for a period of five years, by prohibiting Apple from entering such agreements.

Under the agency model, publishers, rather than Apple, set the retail price for e-books.

“The provisions do not impose any limitation on Apple’s pricing behavior at all; rather, under the guise of punishing Apple, they effectively punish the settling defendants by prohibiting agreements with Apple using an agency model,” lawyers for the publishers said in papers filed in federal court in Manhattan.”

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the events, last April, the Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit against Apple and 5 major book publishers, claiming they conspired to raise e-book prices.

iBooks (three up, MacBook, iPad, iPhone)

The publishers have since settled, leaving Apple as the lone defendant in the suit. In June, the company was found guilty of the charges, and some experts say it could have to pay as much as $500M in damages.

Apple has asked the court to either reject the DoJ’s proposed injunction entirely, or at least have it drastically narrow its scope. A hearing to discuss the proposal and Apple’s rebuttal is set for this Friday, August 9.