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New commitments from Amazon will end a 2015 antitrust investigation brought by the EU. (GeekWire File Photo)

The European Commission has decided that terms offered up by Amazon sufficiently address concerns raised in a 2015 antitrust investigation over contracts between the Seattle retailer and e-book publishers.

The European Union brought the investigation because of contracts that required publishers to give Amazon the same or better terms as the e-commerce giant’s rivals were offering for e-book deals.

“The clauses covered not only price but many aspects that a competitor can use to differentiate itself from Amazon, such as an alternative business (distribution) model, an innovative e-book or a promotion,” the European Commission said in a press release Thursday.

Following the investigation, Amazon pledged not to enforce those clauses or add them to any new contracts with e-book publishers.

Under the terms offered, publishers would also be allowed to terminate contracts that link discounts for e-books on Amazon to the retail price of the same books on other platforms. Today, the EU formally accepted those commitments as legally binding.

“Today’s decision will open the way for publishers and competitors to develop innovative services for e-books, increasing choice and competition to the benefit of European consumers,” said Margrethe Vestager, the EU competition commissioner, in a statement. “Amazon used certain clauses in its agreements with publishers, which may have made it more difficult for other e-book platforms to innovate and compete effectively with Amazon. We want to ensure fair competition in Europe’s e-books market worth more than 1 billion euros.”

Amazon said it’s happy with the terms of the deal. The company is Europe’s largest e-book distributor.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the European Commission,” Amazon said in a statement. “We will continue working to help authors and publishers reach more readers, improve the digital reading experience, and bring our customers the best possible prices and selection.”

 

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