eBook Subscription Services Are Legal in France
If you’ve been following digital publishing news over the past 6 months then you probably know that in late December French regulators expressed doubts that subscription ebook services were legal under France’s fixed price book laws. Those doubts solidified into a legal opinion in February 2015 when Laurence Engel, la Médiatrice du livre, ruled that all the existing services were illegal under the letter of the law.
Kindle Unlimited and its local competitors Izneo, Youscribe, and Youboox were given five months to bring their services into compliance with the legal decision. I don’t have news yet on Kindle Unlimited but I can report that Youboox, Izneo, and Youscribe are either now legal in France, or will be soon.
The three services had made proposals to Engel which were accepted, and they will be legal once they’ve changed their practices to match the proposals. They have six months to comply.
Izneo’s solution was relatively straightforward: they pulled any digital comic titles not published by MP Group ( about 1% of the 1,500 titles offered via subscription). This move made Izneo’s service legal by effectively granting the MP Group control. French law requires that the publisher control the price, and as the only publisher in that particular subscription service MP Group controls the price by default.
In related news, Izneo’s retail store boasts 12,000 digital comic titles from over 60 different publishers.
I’m having trouble parsing the details being discussed in the source articles on Youboox and Youscribe, but I can report that my source says both services are legal. Youboox affirms that it will continue to charge a flat 10 euro per month fee.
We are still waiting to learn the steps Amazon will take to make Kindle Unlimited legal in France, and the same goes for Scribd.