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Apple settles with EU over e-book pricing, hands Amazon a victory


Apple's long battle with European Union regulators over e-book pricing has ended with Apple and four publishers offering to let retailers set prices or discounts for the next two years and suspend "most-favored nation" contracts for five years.

The EU responded positively to the news. Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia stated that "The commitments proposed by Apple and the four publishers will restore normal competitive conditions in this new and fast-moving market, to the benefit of the buyers and readers of e-books."

The deal essentially stops Apple's agreements with publishers Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette Livre and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck (owner of Macmillan) that barred them from selling e-books to rivals more cheaply than to Apple. The publishers are now free to make deals with Amazon and other e-book sellers for pricing that may be less than what's available on Apple's iBookstore.

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