Apple's $450 million e-books settlement gets final approval

The amount still depends on Apple losing an appeal on another ruling

A federal judge in New York has given final approval to a settlement in which Apple will pay $450 million for its role in a conspiracy to fix prices for e-books.

Judge Denise Cote of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan called the settlement "fair and reasonable." It requires Apple to pay $400 million to consumers who bought certain books between 2010 and 2012, as well as $50 million in attorneys' fees.

Although the settlement is final, Apple only has to pay that amount if it loses its appeal of a 2013 price-fixing ruling. If the appeal is successful, Apple will pay only $50 million to e-book purchasers and $20 million to attorneys.

A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for Dec. 15 in Manhattan. Lawyers for the e-book buyers have said they "strongly believe" that Apple's appeal won't be successful.

The iPhone maker was found guilty last year of conspiring with five big publishers to inflate prices for electronically downloaded books. The publishers -- Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster -- had already settled the charges against them for $166 million.

If Apple's appeal is unsuccessful, there will be $566 million in total to divide among the affected consumers. They include millions of people who bought certain books from the five publishers between April 2010 and May 2012.

There are more details about who qualifies for the settlement here, although the period when buyers could make a claim ended last month. Those who applied could get $6.54 for each New York Times bestseller they bought. It will be less than a dollar if Apple wins its appeal.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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