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US judge approves Justice Dept. deal in e-book price-fixing case

SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge has approved the U.S. Department of Justice's settlement with a trio of electronic book publishers accused of conspiring in a price-fixing scheme orchestrated by the late Steve Jobs.

Among other things, the agreement requires the publishers — Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster — to abandon the pricing system that they had conceived with Apple before it released its iPad tablet in 2010. The change is supposed to come within the next week.

The ruling released Thursday cast aside the strident objections of Apple, other book publishers, book sellers and authors who argued the settlement will empower Internet retailing giant Amazon.com Inc. to destroy the “literary ecosystem” with rampant discounting that most competitors can't afford to match.

Those worries were repeatedly raised in court filings about the settlement. More than 90 percent of the 868 public comments about the settlement opposed the agreement.

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