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A federal judge on Wednesday found that Apple violated antitrust law in helping raise the retail price of e-books, saying the company “played a central role in facilitating and executing” a conspiracy with five big publishers.

“Without Apple’s orchestration of this conspiracy, it would not have succeeded as it did in the spring of 2010,” the judge, Denise L. Cote of United States District Court in Manhattan, said in her ruling. She said a trial for damages would follow.

Government lawyers argued in court last month that Apple had colluded with five big American publishers to raise prices for electronic books across the publishing market.

The Justice Department brought the antitrust case against Apple and the publishers a year ago. The publishers settled their cases, but Apple executives insisted that the company had done nothing wrong, and the company continued to insist that on Wednesday.

“Apple did not conspire to fix e-book pricing and we will continue to fight against these false accusations,” Tom Neumayr, an Apple spokesman, said. “When we introduced the iBookstore in 2010, we gave customers more choice, injecting much needed innovation and competition into the market, breaking Amazon’s monopolistic grip on the publishing industry. We’ve done nothing wrong and we will appeal the judge’s decision.”

The Justice Department said the judge’s decision was a victory for people who buy e-books.

“Companies cannot ignore the antitrust laws when they believe it is in their economic self-interest to do so,” the Justice Department said in a statement. “This decision by the court is a critical step in undoing the harm caused by Apple’s illegal actions.”

The New York Times, "Judge Rules Against Apple in E-Books Trial"