When words like Amazon and antitrust get bandied about in the same sentence, people start to wonder about the shady dealings the world’s largest book retailer may be engaged in. At least that’s the case where the European Union is concerned, and a year-long investigation into Amazon’s ebook distribution contracts with publishers.
Last year, a watchdog branch of the EU launched an investigation into one of the clauses in Amazon’s contracts, one that specifically requires publishers to inform them of their other ebook distribution deals. That requirement to disclose has led some investigators to question why Amazon would need to know the details of those deals, unless it was because they planned to engage in price fixing.
Amazon is no stranger to antitrust investigations, but at least stateside, they were on the other side of the aisle when it came to the Department of Justice’s ebook price fixing lawsuit. In that now-famous case, Apple and most of the then-Big Six publishers were found guilty of colluding to set the price of ebooks. Amazon was caught in the crossfire of the suit and received the bulk of the criticism, as supporters of the defendants claimed the price fixing was necessary to “take down” Amazon.
Now, Amazon is working to come out of the EU investigation without owing any fines, something they can legally do if they’re willing to make some regulatory changes. This is just the latest of Amazon’s EU woes, as the company also takes on the long-time corporate tax dodge it has been accused of by basing its corporate headquarters in Luxembourg. Many other international corporations have placed their headquarters in the country due to its policy having the “friendliest” tax structure in Europe.