Lagardère SCA's Hachette Book Group, CBS Corp.'s Simon & Schuster Inc. and News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers LLC all agreed in April as part of the settlement to terminate their agreements with Apple and refrain from limiting any retailer's ability to set e-book prices for two years. (News Corp. also owns The Wall Street Journal.)
Apple had hoped to stave off final approval, and termination of the agreements, until after next year's trial, saying their contracts with the publishers couldn't simply be reinstated in the future if they were to ultimately prevail. The approval opens the door for Amazon and other retailers to steeply discount e-book titles.
Apple filed a strongly worded objection to the Department of Justice's settlement with three book publishers stating that the settlement, which would force it to tear up its contracts with publishers, is "fundamentally unfair, unlawful, and unprecedented."
"The settling defendants have elected to settle this dispute and save themselves the expense engaging in discovery," said U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan. "They are entitled to the benefits of that choice and the certainty of a final judgment."
Apple has previously said that it will seek an appeal to any decision approving the settlement.
"It's devastating to bookstores," said Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild told the WSJ. "For two years the settling publishers must allow vendors to discount e-books at any price they want. The court acknowledges that this restores the status quo conditions before 2010, when Amazon was able to capture 90% of the e-book market. The Justice Department is reshaping the literary marketplace without submitting a single economic study to the court to justify its actions."