Judge OKs $450m deal to end ebook price-hike row. But Apple just won't let it die

Who's winning? The lawyers

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

A Manhattan judge has finally approved Apple's settlement in its long-running ebook price-fixing lawsuit: $400m will go to readers who paid over the odds, and $50m will go to the lawyers suing the iTunes Giant.

The out-of-court deal was drawn up in June and was granted preliminary approval by District Court Judge Denise Cote in August. She gave the final sign-off on it on Friday, Reuters reports, although the judge did point out that it was an unusually structured settlement, especially for one arrived at on the eve of trial."

It's not all smooth sailing to payday, however. Apple is still appealing the case and could reverse earlier rulings if its appeal comes through. That's unlikely, court watchers feel, but nothing is impossible in the wacky world of the American legal system.

Apple is accused of colluding with five publishers to artificially inflate the price of ebooks, and anyone who bought texts from Cook & Co will be able to claim a stake in the settlement.

Don’t expect it to be a huge amount, since an estimated 20 million people may be eligible, but there should be a few bucks to go around.

It could have been a lot worse. The 33 US states that sued Apple over the practice were asking for more than $800m in damages and the court case would have dragged on long enough to see the legal eagles involved get an even bigger payday.

Publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan have settled claims stemming from the case.

Apple isn't out of the woods yet. The iPad giant is facing a lawsuit from its own shareholders over the pricing scandal and, while those taking legal action aren't going to hurt the company they have invested in too much, there'll still be coin to pay.

Apple did not respond to a request for a statement at time of publication. ®

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