Posted by: John Vandivier | October 3, 2013

France 24: French lawmakers on both sides unite to spear Amazon

Source – France 24 – Joseph Bamat

[From John: This article shows the absurdity of leftist economics, and it also demonstrates the consequences of having political power exceed economic power in a society. As scary as it may seem to have an open relationship between business and government, think for a moment how much scarier things would look if government was opposed to business, as demonstrated here.]

In a rare show of unity, French lawmakers from the ruling Socialist Party and the opposition conservative UMP party jointly approved a law on Thursday to protect independent book stores from online retailers like Amazon.

Accused of unfair competition in France, Amazon.com and other online book retailers were on Thursday the target of both left- and right-wing lawmakers.

In an extremely rare show of unity, MPs from both the ruling Socialist Party and the main oppositionUMP party approved a law barring e-shops from shipping bargain books for free.

Traditional book sellers in France, including small independent shops, have complained that Amazon’s combined practices of offering books at a 5% discount and dispatching them to customers at no additional charge undermine their already struggling business.

MPs on Thursday unanimously voted to add an amendment to a law from 1981, known in France as the Lang Law, after then culture minister Jack Lang, which sets the value of new books at fixed prices.

All retailers can only lower books’ set price by 5%, in an effort to regulate competition between booksellers and to promote reading. The Lang Law does not apply to used or second-hand books, or other items that can be bought at a book shop, such as music.

The new amendment bars retailers from offering free shipping on a new book sold at a discounted price.

Book sales dropped by 4.5% in 2012 compared to the previous year, according to the latest government figures. Data also showed that 17% of all book purchases in France were now online, and that figure was growing.

While the “anti-Amazon” amendment sailed through the National Assembly, it threatened to spark legal battles down the line.

France has been challenged in the past for its fixed-book-price policy by groups claiming it is protectionist and breaches the European Union’s common-market accords.

The law is also unlikely to be the last of Amazon’s woes in France. Culture Minister Aurélie Filippetti has blasted the online retail giant for dodging most taxes by basing its French operations in neighboring Luxembourg.

Source: http://www.france24.com/en/20131003-national-assembly-amazon-book-law-free-shipping-competition-ump-socialist-lang

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