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Amazon faces EU investigation

The European Commission is looking into Amazon’s operations as part of a new antitrust case.

The retail giant is facing serious scrutiny over the suggestion that it may be guilty of anti-competitive practices in the eBook industry.

The case will focus specifically on Amazon’s contracts with various book publishers.

According to the European Commission, it wants to make sure Amazon doesn’t “make it more difficult for other eBook distributors to compete.”

It’s alleged that clauses in the company’s contracts with publishers “seem to shield Amazon from competition from other eBook distributors.”

These clauses include giving Amazon the “right to be informed” of more favourable terms offered to competitors, and the right to terms and conditions that at least match competitor offers.

“Amazon has developed a successful business that offers consumers a comprehensive service, including for eBooks. Our investigation does not call that into question,” explained Margrethe Vestager, the EU Commissioner that heads up competition policy.

She continued: “However, it is my duty to make sure that Amazon’s arrangements with publishers are not harmful to consumers, by preventing other eBook distributors from innovating and competing effectively with Amazon. Our investigation will show if such concerns are justified.”

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This is the second time the European Commission has delved into the eBooks industry.

Back in December 2011, the Commission began scrutinising Apple and its relationship with five international publishing houses to limit competition.

The companies all agreed to a number of new commitments to address the Commission’s concerns in 2012 and 2013 as a result.

There’s currently no legal deadline for the anti-competition case, so we could be waiting a while for the results of this latest investigation.

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