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Bundeskartellamt closes proceedings against Audible/Amazon and Apple

Date of issue: 19.01.2017

The Bundeskartellamt has closed its administrative proceedings against – a subsidiary of Amazon – and Apple Computer Inc. Following a complaint by the German Publishers and Booksellers Association (Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels), the Bundeskartellamt and the European Commission had examined a long term agreement between the two companies in the area of audiobooks. The investigations focused on the exclusive purchase of digital audiobooks by Apple from Audible for sale in Apple’s iTunes Store as well as on the obligation of Audible not to supply digital music platforms other than iTunes. Thereupon the parties abandoned the clauses with effect from January 2017.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: “The exclusivity agreement affected the sales opportunities of audiobook publishers since apart from Audible there were few alternative purchasers available, especially in the area of digital audiobooks. Audible and Apple hold a strong position with their offer of digital audiobooks in Germany. With the deletion of the exclusivity agreement Apple will now have the opportunity to purchase digital audiobooks from other suppliers. This will enable a wider range of offer and lower prices for consumers. After conducting intensive market investigations and due to the close cooperation with the European Commission in this case, the Bundeskartellamt was able to close these proceedings without a formal decision.“

Audible is in Germany a leading supplier of audiobook downloads which can be accessed both from as well as from the Amazon trading platform. Apart from this Audible is one of the major producers of audiobooks in Germany and Europe. With its iTunes store Apple operates one of the largest digital media trading platforms that offers music, videos and apps as well as e-books and audiobooks for download.

The press release of the European Commission is available here.

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