Hollywood Docket: Book Publishers Settle; Kim Dotcom's Funds Unfrozen; Apple v. Samsung

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Penning his thoughts for THR from house arrest in New Zealand, the indicted Megaupload founder says "the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common."

Hachette Book Group, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster and News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers have agreed to pay $69 million to customers who bought e-books to settle government claims of an unlawful conspiracy to fix prices.

In April, the Department of Justice sued big publishers and Apple for deals made two years ago. Prosecutors alleged that Apple acted as a "hub" to help publishers get desired higher retail e-book prices across the industry.

On Wednesday, attorneys general for 54 states, territories and D.C. followed up with their own action in federal court, prompting the same three publishers who had earlier settled to come to a new deal that provides money for reimbursements for e-book purchases as well as $7.5 million in fees and costs.

If a judge approves the settlement, customers will be eligible to receive partial refunds on purchases made between April 1, 2010 and May 12, 2010 for around $1 to $2.

The government lawsuits as well as a consumer class action pending in San Francisco targeted an agency pricing model on e-books whereby publishers set prices and Apple would take a 30 percent commission.

The settlement bars the publishers from using that model for a set time, but faced with criticism, the Department of Justice clarified its lawsuit shouldn't be read as an indictment of the agency pricing model at large.

In other entertainment and media news:

  • Megaupload's Kim Dotcom, still awaiting a hearing on whether he'll be extradited from New Zealand to the United States, has convinced a New Zealand court to authorize the release of $4.83 million of frozen funds. He says that the money will go to lawyers. He also gets money to pay rent on his mansion and can have nine luxury cars sold on his behalf.
  • There's still plenty of battles ahead in the patent war between Apple and Samsung. Up first comes a decision by the judge on whether to stay the jury's $1 billion award pending a potential sales ban and Samsung's appeal. Then, as Samsung attempts to get the 9th Circuit to reverse the decision, a hearing will be held in December to consider Apple's request to have eight smart phone devices be subject to a permanent injunction.
  • A California judge overseeing film financier David Bergstein's fight against his ex-attorney Susan Tregub must decide whether to accept the $50 million penalty the jury awarded as the result of malpractice and breached duties. Attorneys for Tregub are arguing that Bergstein didn't meet his burden of proof. Meanwhile, Bergstein is also pursuing claims against another former attorney Teri Zimon, whose lawyers urged a judge on Wednesday to dismiss based on the statute of limitations.
  • The Sunday Times says it is reviewing the possibility that the payout to Lance Armstrong as part of a libel settlement can be reviewed in light of Armstrong's decision not to fight doping charges brought by the US Anti-Doping Agency.
  • 9th Circuit chief judge Alex Kozinski has gotten a role acting in the film Atlas Shrugged: Part II. Here's our suggested tagline: Everything will be appealed to a higher order.