EU Commission looks at e-books proposal of Apple, 4 publishers

BRUSSELS – Apple and four major publishing houses are offering concessions to the European Union’s antitrust watchdog to ease concerns that they may have illegally colluded to raise prices for e-books.

The EU Commission opened an antitrust probe into Apple Inc. and the e-books publishers last December and said Wednesday it was inviting comments from other parties in the sector over the next month.

The four publishers are Hachette Livre, a unit of France’s Lagardere Publishing; Harper Collins, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s U.S.-based News Corp.; CBS Corp.’s Simon & Schuster; and Germany’s Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, which owns Macmillan.

If ultimately approved, the publishers’ commitments would be legally enforceable and could bring an end to the case.