The European Commission's investigation into Apple and major book publishers over ebook price-fixing may soon come to an end after Penguin became the last agency to offer a settlement in the antitrust case. The Commission today published a new notice on its website inviting comments from "interested parties" on Penguin's proposal to terminate existing pricing agreements with Apple which would see it refrain from signing similar agreements for five years.
Penguin's offer matches the proposal put forward by Apple, HarperCollins, Hachette, Macmillan, and Simon & Schuster in September last year. The deal would allow retailers — including Amazon — to set the price of ebooks anywhere they choose for the next two years, as long the value of the discounts offered does not exceed the value of the sales commissions the retailer receives from the publisher. If the European Commission accepts the offer, it would all but end the investigation into Apple's price-fixing agreements in Europe. However, the company is still under investigation by the US Department of Justice in a similar ebook pricing case, holding out after Macmillan became the last publisher to settle with the regulator earlier this year.