Back in December, the French appeal court Tribunal de Grande Instance ruled that Amazon.fr was violating the country’s 1981 Lang law with its free shipping offer. This law forbids booksellers from offering discounts of more than 5 percent off the list price. Amazon was ruled as having broken this law if free shipping is factored into the cost of the book.
They were told they would face a daily fine if they didn’t start charging within ten days. This can continue for 30 days (€30,000) and then it will be reviewed by the court. They can increase, decrease, or extend the fine. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in an email to the site’s customers: “France would be the only country in the world where the free delivery practiced by Amazon would be declared illegal.” Amazon was also ordered to pay €100,000 to a French bookstore union.
The law was originally passed when supermarkets were outselling independent book sellers. It was supposed to mean that customers had access to all kinds of books, not just massively discounted best-sellers.
Amazon say that “are determined to follow every avenue available to us to overturn this law.” They are unikely to succeed as the law has come before the European Court of Justice twice before. On both occasions it has been affirmed. The law is not considered anticompetitive because all book retailers are held to the same standard.