EU launches an­titrust in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Ama­zon over e-books

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

The Euro­pean Union’s ex­ec­u­tive branch has launched an an­titrust in­ves­ti­ga­tion into on­line re­tailer Ama­zon over its dis­tri­bu­tion of e-books, which have be­come in­creas­ingly popular in re­cent years.

The Euro­pean Com­mis­sion said Thurs­day it will in­ves­ti­gate cer­tain clauses in Ama­zon’s con­tracts with pub­lish­ers, in­clud­ing a re­quire­ment for pub­lish­ers to in­form the com­pany about ar­range­ments it has with Ama­zon com­peti­tors. Ama­zon is the largest dis­trib­u­tor of e-books in Europe and owns the popular e-book de­vice, the Kin­dle.

Mar­grethe Vestager, t he Com­mis­sion’s top of­fi­cial on com­pe­ti­tion pol­icy, stressed that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion does not call into ques­tion Ama­zon’s suc­cess­ful and com­pre­hen­sive ser­vice.

“How­ever, it is my duty to make sure that Ama­zon’s ar­range­ments with pub­lish­ers are not harm­ful to con­sumers, by pre­vent­ing other e-book dis­trib­u­tors from in­no­vat­ing and com­pet­ing ef­fec­tively with Ama­zon,” she said. “Our in­ves­tiga- tion will show if such con­cerns are jus­ti­fied.”

If the Com­mis­sion finds that Ama­zon’s ar­range­ments limit com­pe­ti­tion and re­duce con­sumer choice, then it could be vi­o­lat­ing an­titrust rules in Europe that pro­hibit com­pa­nies from abus­ing their dom­i­nant mar­ket po­si­tion. The firm could be fined or forced to change its busi­ness prac­tices.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion will cen­ter on English and Ger­man e-books, which are the largest mar­kets across Europe.

Ama­zon said it is con­fi­dent that its agree­ments with pub­lish­ers are legal and “in the best in­ter­ests of read­ers.”

The Com­mis­sion last launched an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the e-books sec­tor in De­cem­ber 2011 when it had con­cerns that Ap­ple and five in­ter­na­tional pub­lish­ing houses may have col­luded to limit price com­pe­ti­tion. By July 2013, those com­pa­nies had of­fered a num­ber of com­mit­ments to ad­dress the Com­mis­sion’s con­cerns.

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