Connecticut is Investigating Amazon’s eBook Business

When I reported last Thursday that a class-action suit had been filed against Amazon, accusing them of conspiring with publishers, I apparently had missed that the state of Conn. is pursuing its own investigation.

That have not released specifics, alas:

The probe is one of many into the e-commerce platform’s business practices. Amazon is also under investigation by the attorneys general in New York, California and Washington state and the Federal Trade Commission.

“Connecticut has an active and ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon regarding potentially anticompetitive terms in their e-book distribution agreements with certain publishers,” Attorney General William Tong said in a statement to Reuters.

The probe comes as technology platforms face a backlash in the United States and across the world, fueled by concerns among regulators, lawmakers and consumer groups that firms have too much power and are harming users and business rivals.

While this does raise my hopes that the agency contracts will be broken, I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that there’s a case here. This is not nearly the same situation as when news broke of the price-fixing conspiracy involving Apple and five publishers. It was patently obvious to bystanders at the time that the Price Fix Six had conspired, but we have no similar evidence now. (Frankly, publishers hate Amazon too much to enter into a conspiracy with the retailer.)

I would love to be proven wrong, but at this point we have no reason to expect that to happen.

 

image by ActuaLitté via Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

2 Comments

  1. Disgusting Dude17 January, 2021

    From Wikipedia:

    “In Dr. Miles Medical Co. v. John D. Park and Sons, 220 U.S. 373 (1911), the United States Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s holding that a massive minimum resale price maintenance scheme was unreasonable and thus offended Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act. The decision rested on the assertion that minimum resale price maintenance is indistinguishable in economic effect from naked horizontal price fixing by a cartel. Subsequent decisions characterized Dr Miles as holding that minimum resale price maintenance is unlawful per se (automatically).

    On June 28, 2007, the Supreme Court overruled Dr. Miles, discussed above, holding that such vertical price restraints as Minimum Advertised Pricing are not per se unlawful but, rather, must be judged under the “rule of reason”. Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. v. PSKS, Inc., 551 U.S. 877 (2007). This marked a dramatic shift on how attorneys and enforcement agencies address the legality of contractual minimum prices and essentially allowed the reestablishment of resale price maintenance in the United States in most (but not all) commercial situations.”

    The case is solely about Agency which by itself isn’t illegal.
    The antitrust case against Apple and the NY publishers was about collusion to force Agency on Amazon.
    Also this is not the first time ambulance chasers accuse Amazon of conspiring with the big publishers.

    https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/feb/21/booksellers-sue-amazon-over-ebooks&sa=U&ved=2ahUKEwjUsbz9hKTuAhUx2FkKHT1cA6wQFjABegQICRAB&usg=AOvVaw148YVH5fVXIYboEiMFsoDq

    It got laughed out of court.

    Reply
  2. Allen F19 January, 2021

    “While this does raise my hopes that the agency contracts will be broken, I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that there’s a case here”

    Then they need to be going after the publishers – not Amazon.

    Reply

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