Amazon and EU 'in settlement talks' over e-book investigation

Amazon and EU 'in settlement talks' over e-book investigation

Amazon Inc and European Union regulators have started settlement discussions over the internet giant’s e-book deals with publishers, according to news reports.

A person familiar with the situation told Bloomberg that Amazon is hoping to settle the matter without incurring a fine. Talks are at an "early stage" and any deal would have to be tested with publishers before it became final, they added.

A European Commission spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by The Bookseller. 

The commission opened a formal antitrust investigation into Amazon’s e-book distribution and relationship with publishers last year. It was particularly concerned about clauses in its contract that "require publishers to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered to Amazon's competitors and/or offer Amazon similar terms and conditions to its competitors, or through other means ensure that Amazon is offered terms at least as good as those for its competitors".

The commission said it wanted to investigate if these clauses would limit competition between e-book distributors and reduce choice for consumers.

Amazon is also being investigated by the EU for tax avoidance. More specifically, The EC is investigating tax deals granted to US companies for setting up headquarters in Europe, including Amazon in Luxembourg and Apple in Ireland.

In January, the Commission said Luxembourg was providing “state aid” to Amazon through its tax arrangements. 

In August, Apple was orderd to pay Ireland €13bn back in taxes after finding it had paid less than 1% in corporation tax, substantially less than other businesses.