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Penguin appeases EU regulators by ditching e-book deal with Apple

The European Commission on Thursday announced that it has reached an agreement with book publisher Penguin, ending its antitrust probe against the company.

iBooks


The European Union's legislative arm officially approved the conditions it and Penguin reached in April, the commission announced in a press release. Per the terms of those conditions, Penguin will not make any agreements that would allow it, and not a retailer, to set prices on titles.

The agreement brings to an end the so-called "most favored nation" pricing agreement Penguin had with Apple, which allowed the publisher to set content pricing as long as it didn't sell said content to another retailer for less.

Major book publishers and Apple had agreed to an "agency model" of pricing when the iPad with iBooks debuted. That was a change from the "wholesale model" they had before with book sellers like Amazon, which were allowed to resell e-books at or below cost.

Apple's e-books deals found the company under fire on both sides of the Atlantic. Apple and the accused publishers outside of Penguin reached a settlement in Europe in December, but Apple fought an antitrust suit from the U.S. Department of Justice in its home country.

But Apple lost that case, as a judge found that the iPad maker had conspired with book publishers to raise the price of e-books. Apple has appealed the decision, but if the ruling stands, one estimate published Thursday speculates that Apple could pay nearly $500 million in damages.