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EU looks at e-book practices of Apple and major publishers

December 6, 2011 |  8:01 am

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The European Commission has launched an investigation over e-book practices in the EU by Apple, HarperCollins, Penguin, Hachette, Macmillan and Simon and Schuster. The commission hopes to determine whether the parties have engaged in anti-competitive sales practices using Apple's iBookstore.

In a statement about the investigation, the commission wrote:

The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA. The Commission is also examining the character and terms of the agency agreements entered into by the above named five publishers and retailers for the sale of e-books. The Commission has concerns, that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU).

Attention is being turned to fixed price agreements between Apple and the publishing companies in the countries in the European Union. However, the Associated Press reports, "The commission stressed the probe is in its early stages and did not mean the companies actually broke EU competition law. It follows a similar investigation by the Office of Fair Trading in the U.K. and a class action lawsuit against the same five publishers and Apple filed this summer in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California."

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-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: Reading the book "Winnie the Pooh" on Apple's iPad. Credit: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times

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