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EU Investigating Apple, Five Publishers Over eBook Price Fixing

The European Union is investigating whether Apple and its partner publishers violated anti-trust laws on the iPhone's iBooks service.

According to The Guardian, the EU has decided to launch an investigation to determine whether Apple conspired with five big book publishing houses to fix the price of ebooks.

The European Commission said in a statement that it was investigating publishers Hachette Livre, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Pearson's Penguin and Macmillan to see whether they violated competition laws by fixing the prices of the eBooks with the help of Apple.

The EU believes that the publishing houses violated anti-trust laws in order to battle with Amazon over dominance in the booming eBook market. Amazon, which rules over 70 per cent of the eBook market, was free to sell the eBooks at the prices of its own choosing, much to the dislike of publishers, who wanted to make more money out of the eBook boom.

"The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA," the European Union said.

"The Commission is also examining the character and terms of the agency agreements entered into by the above named five publishers and retailers for the sale of e-books," it added.