Following a complaint from the German Publishers and Booksellers Association, the European Commission launched an investigation into the exclusivity arrangement between Audible (bought by Amazon in 2008) and Apple regarding the exclusive supply of audiobooks. The same association also launched a similar complaint before the German Federal Cartel Office, and both competition authorities cooperated in this matter. Audible and Apple’s iTunes Store are the two main distributors of downloadable audiobooks to consumers. The exclusivity obligations that were put in place in 2003 compelled Apple to source audiobooks exclusively from Audible and Audible was required not to supply music to digital platforms other than Apple’s iTunes Store.
Following this investigation, Amazon/Audible and Apple proposed to put an end to these exclusivity obligations. In practice, Audible is now able to supply its downloadable audiobooks to third party platforms and Apple can source audiobooks from other suppliers. Furthermore, publishers and content aggregators may now enter into distribution agreements directly with Apple.
Therefore, the European Commission and the German Federal Cartel Office have announced the closure of both investigations.