Amazon to scrap e-book clauses, wants to settle EU antitrust probe

The Amazon Books store in Seattle.
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U.S. online retailer Amazon has offered to scrap some clauses from its e-book deals with publishers, the European Commission said on Tuesday, a move aimed at ending an EU antitrust investigation and avoid a possible fine.

Amazon, Europe's biggest e-book distributor, will not force publishers to offer terms and conditions, such as on wholesale prices, business models and e-book catalogues, similar to those they have agreed with Amazon's rivals.

The Commission has concerns that such parity clauses make it harder for other e-book retailers to compete with Amazon by developing new and innovative products and services.

The EU competition enforcer said rivals and customers have a month to provide feedback before it decides whether to accept the proposal. Under EU antitrust rules, such settlements mean no finding of infringement nor fines which could reach 10 percent of a company's global turnover.

Amazon said it was pleased with the agreement but disagreed with the Commission's preliminary assessment, saying that e-books are not a separate market as they compete directly with print books and other forms of media.