US BASED retailer of mail-order books and music, Amazon has decided to pay out fines of €1,000 per day in defiance of a French court ruling while it appeals.
The Versailles Tribunal de Grande Instance upheld a lower court's decision won by the French Boooksellers' Union back in December, which found that Amazon had violated France's 1981 Lang law. That law prohibits book merchants from selling books at less than 5 per cent discount off the publisher's retail list price.
The French court found that Amazon's practice of offering free shipping on all orders over €20 effectively violated that provision. It awarded the booksellers' union it's alleged costs and damages of €100,000 against Amazon and imposed an additional fine of €1,000 per day should Amazon continue the free shipping.
Amazon can continue to pay the fine for 30 days, after which time the court will review the fine and may extend, reduce or raise it. Most observers are opining that Amazon's continuing intransigence in the face of the French court's ruling will be likely to draw an increased daily fine.
"As unbelievable as it appears, the free delivery of Amazon.fr is threatened," Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in an email to its French customers. He vowed to appeal and complained, "France would be the only country in the world where the free delivery practiced by Amazon would be declared illegal."
Amazon will probably lose this one, we reckon, but it should be fun to watch. µ
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