European Commission probes Amazon over e-book publishing contracts

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2015
The European Commission on Thursday began an antitrust investigation into Amazon's e-book business, addressing concerns the company is unfairly using publisher deals to undercut competition -- mirroring earlier cases brought against Apple.




Amazon is allegedly using "most favored nation" clauses in contracts, requiring publishers to disclose terms offered to competitors, and/or offer Amazon equal or better ones, according to an official statement.

"The Commission will investigate whether such clauses may limit competition between different e-book distributors and may reduce choice for consumers," the organization said.

The probe will initially concentrate on the English and German language e-book markets as they are the biggest in Europe.

In 2013 Apple lost an antitrust lawsuit brought against it by the U.S. government. A judge found the company to have conspired with publishers to sell e-books on an agency pricing model, granting the iBooks Store "most favored nation" status, in part combat Amazon's then-standard $10. The company is still coping with the aftermath of the case, including rules on the contracts it can sign and a controversial antitrust monitor.

Still earlier, in December 2011, the European Commission launched an investigation of Apple and five major publishers over those same deals. It ended further action against Apple and four of the publishers a year later after securing concessions, including severing agency agreements and banning Apple from using most favored nation clauses. The fifth publisher, Penguin, only made a similar agreement in July 2013.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 47
    *slow clap*

    This will never happen in the U.S., but at least SOMEONE is willing to slap them.
  • Reply 2 of 47
    The U.S. DOJ says: "move along people, there's nothing to see here."

    Meanwhile, in Cupertino, Bromwich is demanding a big private office in Spaceship Campus Two.
  • Reply 3 of 47
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    It's pretty amusing that Amazon can carry on with their business for the longest duration of time and eat up more than 90% of the eBook market, to the vocal condemnation of writers, publishers and reduction of physical book stores.

    Yet the moment a viable competitor is announced(Apple) they are immediately swatted by the DOJ, then levied with a questionable antitrust monitor in a situation that stinks of both cronyism and double standards.

    Naturally Apple's requests to have the monitor pruned were denied, of course so, as the person who decides upon that is the one who installed him. Meanwhile other justices have come out with statements of criticism because the situation looks absurd from the inside and out.
  • Reply 4 of 47
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    Amazon is trying to put the publishers into poverty.

    Apple was trying to get a couple if extra bucks for them.

    The whole is a scam in Amazons favor.
  • Reply 5 of 47
    gprovidagprovida Posts: 247member
    The irony is palpable. Unfortunately for Amazon, the EU is much more effective in enforcing the law and they have a lot the loose. Microsoft and now Google have and are learning it's a more serious affair regarding monopoly abuse. Even Apple had a rough time, but eventually was able to proceed on music with DRM. Amazon does not have a track record of giving in to legal demands so this will be a great show to watch.

    If the courts reverse or severely reduce the Apple antitrust case (and this looks likely), then Amazon is in for a real fight in the publishing market, where it has only build enemies not partners.
  • Reply 6 of 47
    ecats wrote: »
    It's pretty amusing that Amazon can carry on with their business for the longest duration of time and eat up more than 90% of the eBook market, to the vocal condemnation of writers, publishers and reduction of physical book stores.

    Yet the moment a viable competitor is announced(Apple) they are immediately swatted by the DOJ, then levied with a questionable antitrust monitor in a situation that stinks of both cronyism and double standards.

    Naturally Apple's requests to have the monitor pruned were denied, of course so, as the person who decides upon that is the one who installed him. Meanwhile other justices have come out with statements of criticism because the situation looks absurd from the inside and out.

    The DOJ stopped evil. We're now safe from price controls. /s
  • Reply 7 of 47

    Off topic, but why hasn't AI run the story about the FBI releasing some details about the iCloud accounts that were compromised last year?

     

    They released some numbers about accounts and attempts to access, and it basically proves iCloud wasn't hacked. Also shows that idiot who claimed to have a script that would allow unlimited attempts to hack iCloud was lying (you remember him, they guy who said his script "used to work, but Apple quickly patched it" when others who tried to use it found it didn't work.

  • Reply 8 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,279member
    Off topic, but why hasn't AI run the story about the FBI releasing some details about the iCloud accounts that were compromised last year?

    They released some numbers about accounts and attempts to access, and it basically proves iCloud wasn't hacked. Also shows that idiot who claimed to have a script that would allow unlimited attempts to hack iCloud was lying (you remember him, they guy who said his script "used to work, but Apple quickly patched it" when others who tried to use it found it didn't work.
    http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/icloud-celebrity-hack-chicago-homes-raided/
    You must have more information from another source as this one seems to indicate the accounts were hacked.
    Is this the story you are referring to?

    (Better?)
  • Reply 9 of 47
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by TheWhiteFalcon View Post



    *slow clap*



    This will never happen in the U.S., but at least SOMEONE is willing to slap them.

    Amazon is making negative income every year so of course the US wouldn't investigate them. In order for the US to investigate Amazon, Amazon would have to actually be successful at all and turning a profit. 

  • Reply 10 of 47
    prolineproline Posts: 188member

    Sucks for Amazon that their pet judge and her boyfriend have no jurisdiction in Europe. 

  • Reply 11 of 47
    agramonteagramonte Posts: 345member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by msantti View Post



    Amazon is trying to put the publishers into poverty.



    Apple was trying to get a couple if extra bucks for them.



    The whole is a scam in Amazons favor.

     

    Err, the same EU didn't think so... that is why they went after Apple already. Now they going after Amazon. One crook does not vindicate the other one. They are both crooks.

  • Reply 12 of 47
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 887member
    adonissmu wrote: »
    Amazon is making negative income every year so of course the US wouldn't investigate them. In order for the US to investigate Amazon, Amazon would have to actually be successful at all and turning a profit. 

    The management is making one. Jeff is a billionaire from his company that has never made a profit but investors love to give money to. Crazy!
  • Reply 13 of 47
    anantksundaramanantksundaram Posts: 19,048member
    gatorguy wrote: »
    Off topic, but why hasn't AI run the story about the FBI releasing some details about the iCloud accounts that were compromised last year?

    They released some numbers about accounts and attempts to access, and it basically proves iCloud wasn't hacked. Also shows that idiot who claimed to have a script that would allow unlimited attempts to hack iCloud was lying (you remember him, they guy who said his script "used to work, but Apple quickly patched it" when others who tried to use it found it didn't work.
    http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/icloud-celebrity-hack-chicago-homes-raided/
    You must have more information from another source as this one seems to indicate the accounts were hacked.

    Gatorguy, I realize you're always out to prove that Apple is up to something nefarious (and Google never is), but I am having trouble understanding your post: what does hacking an account on iCloud have to do with iCloud being hacked?
  • Reply 14 of 47
    Gatorguy, I realize you're always out to prove that Apple is up to something nefarious (and Google never is), but I am having trouble understanding your post: what does hacking an account on iCloud have to do with iCloud being hacked?

    Nothing, of course.

    Here's the most telling passage from the FBI: "attempt to reset 1,987 unique iCloud account passwords, approximately 4,980 times."

    Password resets are done through phishing, usually by answering questions. And based on these numbers, it appears they averaged about 2.5 attempts per account. So they were probably locked out for many of the accounts, but were successful on others.

    That idiot who posted the script on Github claimed you could brute force iCloud to get passwords. Sorry, but "brute force" is not the same as "password reset". If you have a working brute force method, there's NO NEED to try and reset a password.

    Further, the tool he posted was months after the hacking actually occurred. So it's beyond asinine to attribute any of the iCloud celebrity pictures were the result of his "tool".


    Almost forgot. How do you think the FBI knows how many password attempts were made on the accounts? It's obvious - Apple has provided them with logs. And when this is finally settled the truth will come out (through likely extensive logs kept by Apple), that these were just what they said - social engineering hacks/phishing.
  • Reply 15 of 47
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,658member
    Looks like Amazon's check to the EU hasn't been received.

    Imagine if the DOJ here had the balls to take on Amazon instead of stifling competition.
  • Reply 16 of 47
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post





    The management is making one. Jeff is a billionaire from his company that has never made a profit but investors love to give money to. Crazy!

    That was me saying that the US government has a habit of punishing success.

  • Reply 17 of 47
    rayzrayz Posts: 814member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post





    http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/icloud-celebrity-hack-chicago-homes-raided/

    You must have more information from another source as this one seems to indicate the accounts were hacked.



    Good choice for an article to support your position, but your use of the word 'seems' shows that you're not sure it'll stand up to scrutiny. And emphasising the word 'were' does not, unfortunately, make it true.

     

    Their use of the phrase 'unsophisticated hack' is rather vague but it usually covers guessing passwords or tricking the victim into handing their password over, and not a system-level hack which is the impression you were trying to foster.

     

    But do carry on. Your painfully transparent facade of being a reasoned, impartial observer does seem to generate a lot of amusement around here, even if it is a little dishonest.

  • Reply 18 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,279member
    Nothing, of course.

    Here's the most telling passage from the FBI: "attempt to reset 1,987 unique iCloud account passwords, approximately 4,980 times."

    Password resets are done through phishing, usually by answering questions. And based on these numbers, it appears they averaged about 2.5 attempts per account. So they were probably locked out for many of the accounts, but were successful on others.

    That idiot who posted the script on Github claimed you could brute force iCloud to get passwords. Sorry, but "brute force" is not the same as "password reset". If you have a working brute force method, there's NO NEED to try and reset a password..

    Ah, I wasn't aware that someone was claiming he could "hack" into any iCloud account. That explains your initial post and comment. It wasn't that you were saying the accounts weren't accessed but instead it wasn't something capable of breakng into any account.

    I would agree with you that the latest FBI statements would tend to back that up, tho they haven't given much detail yet. Sounds much more like a group of folks guessing passwords over and over until they stumbled on a good one, which is what I remember reading at the time it happened. IIRC Apple fixed that.

    I didn't know anyone had been claiming a more sophisticated method until you mentioned it. Makes sense now. Thanks.

    Now back to Amazon.
  • Reply 19 of 47
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 20,279member
    jungmark wrote: »
    Looks like Amazon's check to the EU hasn't been received.

    Imagine if the DOJ here had the balls to take on Amazon instead of stifling competition.
    The EU forced Apple into a settlement over the same issue. Even they wouldn't fight them for long. The EU Commission meddles much more in business competition issues than the US does and I don't think most of us here want the US taking the same positions.

    IMHO Amazon will do the same as Apple did and reach an agreement with the EU to drop the contracts with the offending "anti-competitive" clauses.
  • Reply 20 of 47
    adonissmuadonissmu Posts: 1,772member

    I will say this about the EU... at least they are consistent. The US should've been first to examine Amazon's contracts with the book industry seeing as they didn't like what Apple had done. 

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