Kobo has successfully appealed a 2014 consent agreement between the Canadian Competition Bureau and Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster where the publishers had agreed to abandon agency pricing and let retailers set the retail price of the ebooks they sell.
As a result, the Competition Bureau is back to square one, and the publishers are free to set their prices as they wish.
In 2012 Canada was set to follow the US and European Union in ending the agency model in the local ebook market. The Competition Bureau had worked out a deal in 2014 with four major Canadian publishers for the publishers to relinquish control over ebook prices, but unfortunately that consent agreement was never put into place.
That was in early 2014, and for the past couple years the Canadian legal system ground forward at the usual glacial pace, with Kobo, the publishers, and the Competition Bureau filing various paperwork.
In June a tribunal ruled in favor of Kobo, and set aside the consent agreement while noting that it was based on allegations rather than conclusions backed up by evidence.
The CA that was reached between the Commissioner and the Respondent Publishers is rescinded, with prejudice to the Commissioner entering into a new consent agreement with any of those Respondent Publishers on the basis of allegations that are the same or substantially the same as the allegations that form the basis of the CA, but without prejudice to the Commissioner entering into a new consent agreement with the Respondent Publishers based on conclusions he may reach regarding the six elements of the reviewable conduct under subsection 90.1(1) of the Act, in accordance with these reasons.
Coincidentally, Kobo's stalling lead to Canada keeping the same price controls which were removed from the US ebook market in 2012-2013 when US publishers settled with the DoJ, and which later returned when the publishers negotiated new contracts with Amazon and other retailers in late 2014 and early 2015.
Other countries, including Argentina, Germany, and Japan, have laws on the books where retailers are required to sell books and ebooks at the price set by publishers.
Thanks Anne, for the tip!
image by cam_rich345