Hachette Livre offered commitments in response to the European Commission concerns, and as a means to settle the case opened by it in relation to the distribution of e-books in Europe. The case was brought against several international publishers including Hachette Livre, and Apple. These commitments should enable the European Commission to rapidly close its investigation of Hachette Livre. They are along the lines of the settlement already negotiated with the US Department of Justice, to the exclusion of any form of financial obligation.
Hachette Livre remains confident that it did not violate the antitrust laws, and has made no admission of liability. Hachette Livre considers that its unilateral decision to enter into agency agreements with Apple and other e-retailers was in the best longer-term interests of the whole book universe including authors, readers and booksellers of all kinds. However, Hachette Livre has decided that the costs, length, and distractions of the proceedings before the European Commission would be too disruptive to its business and to the development of e-book markets in general. Hachette Livre therefore commits to renegotiate the agency contracts it entered into in European countries in order to grant some level of price flexibility to its agents for a two-year period in countries where national laws so permit, and to ban most-favoured customer clauses for a five-year period.
The European Commission will now seek the views of interested parties and it should then be in a position to adopt a final decision to close its investigation.
Hachette Livre’s main commitment has always been publishing great books and nurturing and supporting its authors and readers. This remains its motivation. Hachette Livre believes that a settlement with the European Commission is the best way to continue to achieve that goal.