Feeds

Conn. lawman grills Apple and Amazon over e-book pricing

Most favored nation status scrutinized

New hybrid storage solutions

Connecticut's top law enforcement official said he is investigating whether agreements Apple and Amazon.com have reached with e-book publishers violate antitrust laws by freezing competitors out of the market.

In letters to the general counsels of Apple and Amazon, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he was concerned about guarantees both companies have secured promising them e-book prices that are lower than any other sellers. The so-called MFN, or most favored nation, status doesn't automatically violate antitrust laws, but it could harm consumers, Blumenthal said.

“MFN clauses — especially when they are offered to two of the largest e-book retail competitors in the United States — have the potential to impair horizontal competition by encouraging coordinated pricing and discouraging discounting,” Blumenthal wrote in the letters here and here (both are PDFs), which were sent late last week. “The net effect is fairly obvious, in that MFSs will reduce the publisher's incentive to offer a discount to Apple if it would have to offer the same discount to Amazon, leading to the establishment of a price floor for e-books offered by the publisher.”

A preliminary review by Blumenthal has already found that e-book prices offered by Amazon, Apple, Borders and Barnes & Noble for several titles on The New York Times Bestseller list were identical.

“These agreements among publishers, Amazon and Apple appear to have already resulted in uniform prices for many of the most popular e-books — potentially depriving consumers of competitive prices,” Blumenthal said in a statement. He has requested a meeting with legal representatives of both companies “to discuss the issues I have raised in greater detail.”

Apple and Amazon have secured the guarantees from Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, and Penguin. Blumenthal has long been a thorn in the side of companies accused of privacy and competition tresspasses. In the late 1990s, he vigorously pursued Microsoft for antitrust violations. More recently, he has pursued Google for its Streetview Wi-Fi snooping, Craigslist for prostitution ads, and MySpace for catering to registered sex offenders. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
Bono: Apple will sort out monetising music where the labels failed
Remastered so hard it would be difficult or impossible to master it again
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.