The European Commission has finally completed its investigation into the e-book pricing policies of five publishers and Apple, reaching deals with Apple and four of the houses. News of a settlement has been leaking out in the European press for weeks and the EC issued a statement today outlining terms of the settlement, terms very much like those agreed to by three publishers in the Department of Justice lawsuit in the U.S.
Under the agreement, signed by Apple, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre and Macmillan, the four publishers will terminate the current agency agreements they have with Apple and create new agreements that will let retailers set their own prices for a two year period. In addition, for a five year period neither the four publishers nor Apple can conclude agreements for e-books with so-called retail-price Most Favored Customer clauses.
In its statement, the EU said rather than imposing fines they chose to settle since it is “the quickest way to bring competition back to this market, to the benefit of all consumers who buy e-books in Europe.”
The EU also said they are “currently engaged in constructive discussions” with Penguin that should lead to a deal that will close proceedings against them.