Feeds

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

Most favored nation status scrutinized

Intelligent flash storage arrays

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.