Ebook Price Fixing Nightmare Continues: Apple Facing Three Class Action Suits in Canada

Posted on April 21, 2012

Apple and book publishers' ebook price fixing woes continue to expand. Now Canada is getting into the act. According to the Montreal Gazette there are three class action suits either filed or about to be filed in Canada. The suits are being filed on behalf of readers who were allegedly overcharged for ebooks due to the price fixing arrangement between Apple and the same book publishers being sued by the U.S. Department of Justice. The legal actions are being filed in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.

The attorney in the Quebec suit said that ebook prices rose after the institution of the agency model of pricing, so Canadian consumers could be compensated for that rise in price.

The Quebec lawsuit lays out the case: "The anti-competitive nature of this conspiracy, and the Publisher Respondents' motivation to control ebook pricing, is also revealed by the fact that the price of an ebook in many cases now approaches - or even exceeds - the price of the same book in paper even though there are almost no incremental costs to produce each additional ebook unit."

If the lawsuits are successful, Canadians who bought ebooks after April 1, 2010, would be in line to recover damages. Damages could be substantial, as ebook prices in Canada went from $9.99 to $14 or more (Canadian dollars). The attorney told the newspaper, "This is a North American case."

This is just a disaster for Apple and for the book publishers. Apparently, it's the gift that keeps on giving -- for lawyers around the world. Amazon.com has a popular store in Australia that sells ebooks -- will that be the location of the next lawsuit?