Xenophon calls for Apple ebook investigation

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Xenophon calls for Apple ebook investigation

Apple’s ebook anti-trust woes could come to Australia, with independent senator Nick Xenophon telling the Australian Financial Review a local inquiry should be launched into ebook price fixing.

According to the paper, Xenophon has written to the ACCC calling for an investigation into whether Apple had colluded with publishers to raise the price of electronic books in Australia, after the tech giant was found guilty last week of doing just that in the US.

“The findings of the US District Court are very disturbing,” he said. “They raise a number of serious questions as to whether this sort of conduct has been occurring in Australia.

“If Australian consumers have been caught up in this rip-off, the ACCC needs to act. And the fact that cartel provisions with criminal penalties have been in force for four years, this could well be the first test case for those provisions,” Xenophon was quoted as saying.

In the United States, a district court ruling found Apple had forced publishers to raise ebook pricing when it entered the domestic market in 2010. At the time, publishers complained the pricing offered by competitor Amazon was too low.

Xenophon told the newspaper a finding of wrongdoing by Apple in Australia could see the company charged under anti-cartel powers granted to the ACCC in 2009. Those powers have not yet been used.

Apple faces a costs hearing to determine penalties for breaking US anti-trust laws.

An investigation into ebook pricing in Australia would be yet another front in the woes faced by the company, as it faces a parliamentary enquiry into the way it prices music and videos, as well as international profit shifting and tax minimisation strategies. 

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