Shearman And Sterling

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September 15, 2016

E-Commerce Inquiry – A Threat to Rights Holders and Retailers


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The European Commission today published its preliminary report on the e-commerce sector inquiry (the “Preliminary Report”). The Preliminary Report focuses on the online sale of consumer goods and on digital content and has found that consumers may be prevented from receiving the best online deals due to restrictive practices. Regarding the online sale of consumer goods, such restrictions include price limitations, limitations on cross-border sales and restrictions on the use of price comparitor websites, among others. With regard to digital content, the Commission found copyright licences to be complex, often exclusive, and to limit the territories, technologies and release windows digital content distributors may use.

The Commission notes that these practices may, in certain circumstances, breach EU competition law and advises companies to review their contractual arrangements in light of the Preliminary Report. The Commission has stated that it may open case-specific investigations to ensure compliance with EU competition law.

View full memo, E-Commerce Inquiry – A Threat to Rights Holders and Retailers