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ACCC refuses to open case into Apple e-book pricing

James Hutchinson (via AFR) | July 16, 2013
The competition watchdog has knocked back calls for a local investigation into Apple's involvement in e-book pricing changes.

ACCC refuses to open case into Apple e-book pricing
The competition watchdog has knocked back calls for a local investigation into Apple's involvement in e-book pricing changes. Photo: Bloomberg

The competition watchdog has knocked back calls for a local investigation into Apple's involvement in e-book pricing changes after a US court decision found the technology giant broke anti-trust law.

A District Court judge in the United States found last Wednesday that Apple had colluded with book publishers to change pricing practices in an bid to force the dominant bookseller, Amazon, to raise its prices.

In Australia, many of the major publishers have moved to the agency pricing model, which allows them to dictate the price at which retailers sell e-books.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon said he had written to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission seeking a local investigation into potential cartel behaviour in Australia.

"If people are being ripped off on e-books in the States, does that mean they're being ripped off here?" Senator Xenophon asked The Australian Financial Review last week.

But an ACCC spokesman said the watchdog considered that "the conduct of concern occurred in the US and we note that conduct is being sanctioned by the regulator in the US".

"The ACCC will continue to follow developments to assess whether further follow-up is required in Australia," they said.

TARGET AMAZON NOT APPLE
A bookshop owner and former president of the Australian Booksellers Association, Jon Page, said the ACCC should look into Amazon's pricing practices rather than Apple's.

"The agency model actually fostered competition in the market that wasn't there because of Amazon's deep discounting," he said. "Now that's been wiped away, it's kind of open slather for Amazon to go back to their predatory pricing practices."

"No publisher has taken any action against Amazon at this stage and it's harming the book industry," he said. "If Amazon is allowed to keep doing this, they'll dominate the e-book market and . . . that's going to severely damage Australian businesses and Australian jobs." 

 

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