Apple may not fight ebook price-fixing case in EU
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 31 Aug 2012 at 16:00
Four ebook publishers and Apple are looking to avoid an EU antitrust investigation by allowing Amazon to sell ebooks at a discount for two years, a source told Reuters.
The move comes as a surprise given Apple has refused to settle over similar terms in the US.
Publishers and Apple are under pressure in the EU and the US over ebook pricing, after accusations that they colluded on setting prices artificially high to fight back against Amazon's discounts.
Under the agreement's "agency pricing model", other retailers couldn't sell books for any less than they were priced on Apple's ebook store, in an apparent bid to prevent Amazon's discounts from getting users accustomed to paying less.
Find out moreHow Apple forced consumers to pay more for ebooks
The EU started investigating ebook pricing deals last year, looking into deals cut between Apple and Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan-owner Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck.
In April, the European Commission said that Apple and the four publishers were willing to offer concessions to avoid fines. Penguin is also being investigated, but Reuters said it wasn't among those that had submitted a concession proposal.
"The Commission is market testing the commitments on an informal basis," the source told Reuters.
The rumoured European move is intriguing as Apple is fighting the case in the US, alongside Macmillan and Penguin. HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette reached a settlement with US authorities in April.
The proposed settlement, revealed on Wednesday, will see them pay out $69m million to US customers who bought books between April 2010 and May 2012 - working out to between $0.25 and $1.32 per book. It will also see them banned from using the "agency model" for at least two years.
Despite the apparent similarity between the two deals, Apple and the publishers appear to be taking different routes in Europe and the US. Apple said this week in a legal memo regarding the US investigation that "it denies the allegations against it and is actively defending this case".
"given Apple has refused to settle over similar terms in the US"
They have home court advantage there. Apple's status as a top US company doesn't cut much ice with the EU. Or their courts.
By Alfresco on 31 Aug 2012
I completely agree, its the main reason why samsung lost in the US,
im a little surprised that no one has noticed apple is price fixing the iphone.
If you look at most pay monthly contracts they all share the exact same prices
By r1sh12 on 1 Sep 2012
Well, which is it?
According to the sub heading on the news page:
"Report suggests Europe could follow US lead in settling ebook case"
And yet on this page it says that apple are behaving quite differently in Europe in that they are cooperating with regulatory authorities rather than fighting the case.
So how can Europe be following a US 'lead' when the outcome appears to be quite different?
Seems pretty inconsistent reporting to me.
By qpw3141 on 2 Sep 2012
What happens after 2 years?
(banned from using the "agency model" for at least two years.)
So what happens after 2 years? They can go back to price fixing with the agency model?
By wlm42 on 3 Sep 2012
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