DOJ tells Apple to let Amazon and other e-book retailers add links from their apps to their stores

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The U.S. Department of Justice today submitted a proposed remedy for the e-book price fixing case, which found Apple guilty of “conspiring” with five publishers to raise the retail prices of e-books. Under the proposed solution, Apple will have to allow competing digital stores like Amazon to include links to their stores from within their iOS apps.

The DOJ’s remedy also requires that Apple terminate its agreements with the five publishers it “colluded” with to undercut Amazon’s dominance in the ebook market. From the DOJ’s release:

The department’s proposal, if approved by the court, will require Apple to terminate its existing agreements with the five major publishers with which it conspired – Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, which does business as Macmillan, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Simon & Schuster Inc.  – and to refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.

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To reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy, Apple must also for two years allow other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple’s prices with those of its competitors.

Before Apple’s in-app subscriptions and purchase system was released, companies like Amazon, B&N included links to their own stores so that customers could buy books. But later on, Apple required developers to use the IAP system as the exclusive channel to process payments, and not include links to any external webpage that let users buy content.

A hearing on the DOJ’s proposal is scheduled on August 9th, and if the solution does come into effect, it’ll not only be a win for Amazon, but also for users who will finally be able to buy content from within the Kindle app, instead of having to use workarounds like these. It’ll also be interesting to see if Apple will relax the external link rule for all developers or just Amazon and other digital bookstores.

[via TNW]