EU Raids E-Books Publishers On Price Fixing Suspicions

03 March 2011

The premises of several European publishing houses suspected of fixing the prices of their electronic books (e-books) have been searched in dawn raids by EU competition authorities.

SNP MEP and substitute member of the European Parliament's Culture Committee had questioned the Commission several months ago about the possibility of anti-trust practices in the e-books market and was told that there had been no formal complaints lodged at that point but that "the Commission will continue to monitor the developments in the market for the sales of e-books so as to ensure that competition and a level playing field are preserved amongst all market players."

A European Commission statement confirmed the raids and that they were "working closely" with the UK's Office of Fair Trading which is also investigating price-fixing in the e-book market.

Smith commented:

"Well done to the Commission for looking into this, though it has taken more time to come about than I would have liked.

"Price fixing is of absolutely no benefit to the writers, and certainly no benefit to consumers. With big companies making no effort to undercut one another, prices remain artificially high and unless there is an agency model in place (where the publishers, rather than the retailers,set the price) then the extra money will not make its way back to the authors either.

"Whether or not these investigations yield conclusive proof that price fixing has been taking place, I remain heartened that the Commission is viewing this matter with all seriousness and that they are monitoring the situation closely.”

An e-book is a text and image-based publication in digital form produced on, published by, and readable on computers or other digital devices.

The question Mr Smith lodged to the Commission in December 2010 is available at:

http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sidesSearch/search.do?type=QP&language=EN&term=7&author=28508