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Old 12-06-2011, 06:39 AM   #1
beachwanderer
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European Commission opens antitrust investigation into ebook-sales

In a press release the European Commission states that

Quote:
the European Commission has opened formal antitrust proceedings to investigate whether international publishers Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing, France), Harper Collins (News Corp., USA), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., USA), Penguin (Pearson Group, United Kingdom) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany) have, possibly with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area (EEA) in breach of EU antitrust rules. The opening of proceedings means that the Commission will treat the case as a matter of priority. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
This follows unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in the e-book publishing sector in several Member State in March 2011 (see MEMO/11/126).
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Old 12-06-2011, 06:55 AM   #2
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Now that is news. Thanks for posting it.

Although complaining about publishers insisting on fixed retail prices for ebooks is rather odd when many EU countries have (print) book price agreements in place.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:19 AM   #3
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Here's the BBC story:

Apple in EU e-book market probe

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Old 12-06-2011, 07:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Now that is news. Thanks for posting it.

Although complaining about publishers insisting on fixed retail prices for ebooks is rather odd when many EU countries have (print) book price agreements in place.
Don't those countries have specific laws passed to allow that with print books though?

Either way, I'm glad to see an investigation happening, whether anything changes remains to be seen.

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Old 12-06-2011, 07:34 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Now that is news. Thanks for posting it.

Although complaining about publishers insisting on fixed retail prices for ebooks is rather odd when many EU countries have (print) book price agreements in place.
Ah, but pbooks are *cultural* products!
eBooks are just digital data.


Okay, let's try it again:
Ah, but pbooks are sold by small local book shops.
eBooks are sold by North American corporations.

Doesn't that sound *exactly* like business as usual?

Mind you, shining light at the dealings of the BPHs is a *good* thing.

But going at it with a flashlight instead of a lighthouse suggests they're not all that interested in protecting consumers.

Last edited by fjtorres; 12-06-2011 at 07:37 AM.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:47 AM   #6
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But the big EU fish did manage to significantly lower the roaming/sms prices for mobiles across EU. So maybe, there is hope.
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Although complaining about publishers insisting on fixed retail prices for ebooks is rather odd when many EU countries have (print) book price agreements in place.
Well governments are allowed to create new laws, to enable acts that would otherwise be illegal. Publishers aren't.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:39 AM   #8
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It seems they're taking the "Anti-Amazon Conspiracy" Theory seriously...

http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2011/12/...e-book-cartel/

...Unlike the lawyers for the various Class Action suits in the US, who lump Amazon (and B&N) among the defendants, for (allegedly) benefiting from the price fix.
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Old 12-06-2011, 11:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdurrant View Post
Now that is news. Thanks for posting it.

Although complaining about publishers insisting on fixed retail prices for ebooks is rather odd when many EU countries have (print) book price agreements in place.

I can get pbooks by mail order from anywhere in Europe, e.g. I get get English books from the UK, from Ireland, buy them directly in Germany, whatever. Yet ebooks are unavailable from UK bookstores like Waterstones and W.H. Smith if you live in Germany. It would be most welcome if the EU cracks this attempt at market segmentation.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:03 PM   #10
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I can get pbooks by mail order from anywhere in Europe, e.g. I get get English books from the UK, from Ireland, buy them directly in Germany, whatever. Yet ebooks are unavailable from UK bookstores like Waterstones and W.H. Smith if you live in Germany. It would be most welcome if the EU cracks this attempt at market segmentation.
They could do it by passing a law that states the purchase transaction is taking place at the site where the ebook store is located (which is how pbook sales are processed) rather than at the buyer's location (which is why ebookstores are forbidden from selling ebooks "out-of-area").

It would open a can of worms vis-a-vis ebook licensing rights but it would solve the problem. Don't expect it to happen, though.
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Old 12-06-2011, 04:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fjtorres View Post
They could do it by passing a law that states the purchase transaction is taking place at the site where the ebook store is located (which is how pbook sales are processed) rather than at the buyer's location (which is why ebookstores are forbidden from selling ebooks "out-of-area").

It would open a can of worms vis-a-vis ebook licensing rights but it would solve the problem. Don't expect it to happen, though.
Moving the vast bulk of book sales to a ship offshore solves a problem?
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Old 12-06-2011, 05:50 PM   #12
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Moving the vast bulk of book sales to a ship offshore solves a problem?
Does the ship have selling rights to any books?

Pbook stores sited anywhere in the world can take online orders from anywhere else and *then* ship the product anywhere. Two steps. Sale takes place at the vendor's site--delivery takes place at the buyer's site.
Delivery does not factor in determining who can buy from a given store, just the store's ability/willingness to deliver. (C.f. THE BOOK DEPOSITORY.)

Most ebook stores treat sale and delivery as a single integral step taking place at the customer's location and are thus restricted to selling product solely within the borders of their host nation.

It would probably take something like legislative action by a government or supra-national body like the EU to force the treatment of ebook sales as two independent steps for the residents of their countries.

Do note that for US citizens, Amazon does in fact treat sale/billing and delivery as two separate steps which is why Kindle owners on travel/extended foreign residence can still access and buy from the US Kindle store. So it *can* be done.

I just doubt it will happen any time soon.
The BPHs have more government clout than outraged consumers.
Which is also why I expect nothing meaningful to come of the EU investigation or US lawsuits on the Price Fix scam.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:22 PM   #13
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The US Justice Department is now involved.

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/07/just...les_practices/
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:49 PM   #14
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Does the ship have selling rights to any books?
In international waters, none would be needed.
Ppointing that out was the point of my post.
There is no commercial sales regulating authority over the high seas.

Would a ship engaging in E-book sales ever need to come to port, and what could customes officials do there even if it did?
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Old 12-07-2011, 03:03 PM   #15
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The US Justice Department is now involved.

http://www.salon.com/2011/12/07/just...les_practices/
I figured they'd dip their toes in the water sooner or later.

Wonder how this will all play out.
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