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European Booksellers Cheer as Digital Market Talks on Ebooks and Geo-Blocking

25 November 2017

From Publishing Perspectives:

“We trust that the European Commission will take the specific nature of the (ebook) sector into account,” says the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels’ Jessica Sänger as the EIBF celebrates ebooks’ proposed exemption from geo-blocking.

. . . .

When Publishing Perspectives readers last were updated on the “geo-blocking” controversy for publishers and booksellers in Europe’s Digital Single Market developments and the draft law under discussion, the European & International Booksellers Federation (EIBF) had raised the alarm.

. . . .

Dr. Jessica Sänger, legal counsel and director of European and international affairs with the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, Germany’s Publishers and Booksellers Association, geo-blocking is not about “portability” of ebooks and other digital products which customers have purchased, and the EIBF and its member booksellers aren’t against selling ebooks across borders.

Instead, the concern was that the proposed legislation in play over the summer could force booksellers to sell ebooks to users in all EU countries, and that requirement to service the union’s wide range of member nations’ varying taxation levels, fixed prices, and other constraints, would be too costly for many booksellers to bear.

. . . .

EIBF’s administration says that it  “notes with great satisfaction that the negotiations held between the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council (trilogue) about the geo-blocking regulation were positive. The proposal agreed yesterday [November 20], and tabled by the Estonian presidency leaves copyright-protected material, including ebooks, out of the scope of the regulation and proposes a review clause of two years”–and in actuality, the organization notes, this will put the review near the end of 2020 or early in 2021.

. . . .

“It’s very important to us that a proper impact assessment is to be undertaken before traders are potentially compelled to make their Web shops capable of selling ebooks to every member State” in the European Union.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Ebooks, Legal Stuff, Non-US

9 Comments to “European Booksellers Cheer as Digital Market Talks on Ebooks and Geo-Blocking”

  1. Are these people who are moaning about how complicated it will be to sell ebooks into 27 countries with 27 sets of tax laws the same people who moaned that it was unfair that Amazon took advantage of how the rules used to work (where the seller was allowed to use their own country’s tax laws) to sell ebooks from the EU country that had the lowest tax on them?

    • The very same.

      The very same people who applauded the fact that sales tax for ebooks aka “digital services” must be paid in the country of the customer, making it practically impossible for small and medium sized enterprises to sell ebooks, email classes or other such products from their own websites.

      Yes, I hate that particular law (it prevents me from selling services), and the fact that it was drafted specifically to hit Amazon etc, with complete disregard to their small-scale competitors.

      • “Yes, I hate that particular law (it prevents me from selling services), and the fact that it was drafted specifically to hit Amazon etc, with complete disregard to their small-scale competitors.”

        Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

        They keep trying to nail Amazon for breaking some law – but Amazon has been playing the game by using those same laws, and any law made to hurt Amazon will hurt others even more.

        This is just like them going after Google trying to get money out of them, Google just ‘stopped’ googling them – which hurt them more than it did Google.

        • “They keep trying to nail Amazon for breaking some law – but Amazon has been playing the game by using those same laws…”

          Not always.

          Amazon has had to u-turn its policy on market place in the EU and on its MFN status for ebooks in the EU. In both cases the EU did not try “to nail” Amazon, but rather allowed Amazon to change its policy to compliance without resorting to Court action.

          In the US Amazon has ended up in court thanks to the FTC – and lost – as per https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/04/amazon-app-refund-ftc/522078/

          Currently the FTC is investigating Amazon for deceptive practices. At the same time the FTC cleared Amazon’s Wholefoods buy-out.

          Either side of the Atlantic it is not about “nailing” Amazon, simply ensuring compliance with whatever laws are in place.

          • I’m on the fence on that one.

            Parents signed an ‘okay’ by starting the service and leaving the CC on it – and Amazon should have made it easier to work in parental controls (not that most parents would have bothered with said controls until after kiddo spent enough money for them to notice.)

        • The BPHs priced their ebooks higher than print to steer ebook buyers to print. The actual result a was a bit more specific: they steered potential Apple, Google, and Kobo ebook customers to Amazon online pbooks. In the process they reduced the incentive for Apple and Google to invest much more into their ebook businesses so Amazon got a triple win: less BPH ebook sales, which helps Indies (an Amazon stronghold), a bigger share of the BPH book sales, and weaker opponents in the ebook space.
          With enemies like that they hardly need allies.
          The ADSers are a lot like STAR TREK’s Khan: shooting blondly at Kirk but killing everybody around him instead.

  2. The situation in the US is far worse than 27. There are thousands of taxing entities. Advocates want Amazon to deal with it, but balk at assuming the same burden for their own sales.

  3. There are a lot of law in Europe designed to hurt Amazon with no regard for their own industry. In France, free shipping is illegal!?!

  4. > compelled to make their Web shops capable
    > of selling ebooks to every member State

    That’s going to be interesting. The books of David Irving are banned in Poland; EU sellers shipping copies there would wind up in an interesting legal situation.

    “Be careful what you wish for…”

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