European Commission reportedly accepts ebook pricing agreement

Gigaom

Reuters cites two unidentified sources who says that the European Commission has accepted Apple and four publishers’ proposed ebook pricing settlement.

As previously reported, the impending EU settlement includes Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette and Macmillan’s parent company, Holtzbrinck. Apple and Holtzbrinck are settling in Europe, but not in the United States. The U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with HarperCollins, Hachette and Simon & Schuster and it was approved in September. Penguin is not settling in Europe or in the U.S.

The European Commission began its formal antitrust investigation last December and, like the U.S. Department of Justice, accused Apple and publishers of colluding to fix ebook prices. Like the U.S. settlement, the proposed EU settlement requires Apple and settling publishers to terminate their agency agreements and, for two years, prevents publishers from “restrict[ing], limit[ing] or imped[ing] ebook retailers’ ability to set, alter or reduce retail prices for ebooks and/or to offer discounts or promotions.”

As Publishers Lunch notes, “any EC settlement would have real impact in just one territory: the UK. The next two largest book markets (and the only two ebook markets of any scale right now) — Germany and France — have strict laws on book pricing that prevent discounting, and the EC has made clear the settlement has no effect on those laws”

In September, the EC gave consumers a month to comment on the proposed settlement. I’m not sure if those comments were made available to the public, but haven’t yet been able to find them online.



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