As noted before, the Europeans are less sanguine about large internet companies than is the U.S. In France, Amazon wanted to offer free shipping to its customers. But France has a law intended to protect booksellers from predatory competition. The International Herald Tribune summarizes:
The 1981 Lang law was passed at a time when booksellers were losing sales to supermarkets and other new competitors. It was meant to assure that the French public had equal access to a wide variety of books, both high-brow and low-brow, not just heavily marked-down publications. The law has twice come before the European Court of Justice and both times it has been affirmed. The law is not considered anti competitive because all book retailers are held to the same standard…. In the Amazon case, a union of French bookstores won its lawsuit against the company last month over the free-shipping offer, which applies only to deliveries within France on book orders of more than €20.
The result of this is a $1500/day fine currently being levied against, and paid by, amazon. Who will win this game of chicken?