Federal Court rules in favour of the Competition Bureau in e-books case

News Release

Decision expected to lead to lower e-book prices for Canadian consumers

February 1, 2018 – OTTAWA, ON – Competition Bureau

The Competition Bureau welcomes today’s decision by the Federal Court that paves the way for Canadian retailers to offer discounts on e-books to consumers. The Court rejected an application by Kobo, Canada’s largest e-book retailer, to challenge agreements the Bureau reached with major e-book publishers.

A Bureau investigation concluded that an anti‑competitive arrangement between four publishers and Apple led to higher e-book prices for Canadian consumers. In January 2017, the Bureau entered into consent agreements with three of these companies – Hachette, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster – to resolve its concerns. Today’s decision by the Federal Court upholds these agreements and clears the way for a fourth consent agreement, reached with HarperCollins earlier this month, to come into force.

The Bureau expects that, once implemented, the four consent agreements will benefit Canadian consumers by increasing competition in the e-book marketplace.

Quotes

“I am glad to see that Canadians will finally benefit from the agreements we reached with publishers more than a year ago. I expect we will see more competitive prices now that Canadian retailers can finally offer discounts on e-books published by four of Canada’s major publishers.”

John Pecman,
Commissioner of Competition

Quick Facts

  • Kobo had previously challenged an agreement that the Bureau reached with these four major publishers in 2014.

  • In January 2017, the Bureau reached new agreements with Hachette, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster and took action against HarperCollins by filing an application with the Competition Tribunal.

  • The application to the Competition Tribunal against HarperCollins was settled through a consent agreement in January 2018.

  • The consent agreements come into effect five days after the decision, after which the publishers will have up to 120 days to implement the changes that they have agreed to.

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