Sunday

3rd Jul 2022

EU compels Amazon to change 'unfair' e-book contracts

  • Amazon can no longer tell publishers of e-books that they have to inform Amazon if a competing e-book seller offers a better deal (Photo: James Tarbotton)

The European Commission has convinced the online retailer, Amazon, to change the terms of its contracts with e-book publishers to prevent unfair competition.

The EU's executive body and Amazon announced on Thursday (4 May) that the two sides had reached an agreement.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • The European Commission was worried the contract contained clauses that break EU law (Photo: Helloquence)

Amazon, which also offers paper books, is the largest seller of e-books in Europe.

The EU opened up a probe into Amazon's e-book distribution contracts in June 2015.

The controversy was about clauses Amazon had included in its contracts with the publishers of e-books.

The commission feared that the company could be breaking EU anti-trust rules, which help to prevent big companies from engaging in unfair competition.

In the contractual terms, e-book publishers had to agree to inform Amazon when a competing e-book distributor had offered a better deal.

Another standard clause in Amazon's e-book contracts gave the company the right to terms and conditions at least as good as those offered to its competitors.

Under the agreement announced on Thursday, Amazon will no longer include those clauses in new contracts, and promised not to enforce them in old contracts that had already been signed.

If Amazon breaks one of its promises over the next five years, the commission could automatically impose a fine on Amazon of up to 10 percent of its total annual turnover.

The EU commission said that Amazon's promises offer “a timely, effective and comprehensive solution to the [commission's] competition concerns”, and will “contribute to fair competition”.

“They will help ensure that innovation for e-books by publishers and other third parties can benefit companies other than Amazon and protect effective competition for e-books to the benefit of consumers,” the EU commission said about the commitments in a press release.

Amazon also released a short statement, saying the company is “pleased” to have reached a deal.

The case is unrelated to another EU investigation involving Amazon.

In 2014, the commission opened a probe into the company's tax arrangements with Luxembourg. However, that case is still ongoing.

EU probes Amazon's e-book contracts

The European Commission is concerned that some clauses in Amazon's contracts with book publishers hinder competition.

Opinion

Amazon's spying on EU workers just tip of iceberg

Amazon is leading an assault on workers' rights in Europe, using big data and surveillance to crush efforts by workers to improve their conditions. It's symptomatic of a climate of impunity around breaches of privacy that benefit corporations over workers.

Stakeholder

The CPDP conference wants multidisciplinary digital future

During the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference, many high-level discussions will touch upon the dynamics of decision-making in the design of new technologies, including the importance of inclusion, diversity, and ethics perspectives within these processes.

EU Commission won't probe 'Pegasus' spyware abuse

The European Commission says people should file their complaints with national authorities in countries whose governments are suspected of using an Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against them.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us