Feeds

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

Most favored nation status scrutinized

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
4chan outraged by Emma Watson nudie photo leak SCAM
In the immortal words of Shaggy, it wasn't me us ... amirite?
prev story

Whitepapers

A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
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?
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.