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Brussels closed its antitrust probe into Amazon e-books after the company promised to remove best-deal-type clauses from its contracts.
Margrethe Vestager, EU competition commissioner said on Thursday:
Today’s decision will open the way for publishers and competitors to develop innovative services for e-books, increasing choice and competition to the benefit of European consumers. Amazon used certain clauses in its agreements with publishers, which may have made it more difficult for other e-book platforms to innovate and compete effectively with Amazon.”
The commission suspected Amazon’s “most-favoured-nation” clauses harmed competition in over Europe’s €1bn e-book market. The clause required publishers to offer the US giant terms that were equivalent to the best offered to any competitor – in terms of criteria such as price, distribution, or promotion.
The regulator started its investigation in June 2015 and worried the clauses reduced publishers’ and competitors’ ability and incentives to develop new e-books and distribution services, cutting choice and innovation and increasing e-book prices in the EEA.
Amazon will not enforce the clauses or include them in new contracts and will also allow publishers to cancel their existing contracts with 120-day notice.
The commitments last for 5 years and applies to e-books in any language distributed by Amazon in the EEA. The online retailer faces a fine up of to 10 per cent its total annual turnover if it breaches the promises.