Amazon.com has decided to pay a $1500 a day fine in France rather than comply with a court ruling ordering them to stop offering free shipping to their French customers on book purchases. They're filing an appeal as well. France limits the allowable discount on book sales, and contends that free shipping is a form of discount that would exceed the 5% legal maximum.
Cédric Manara, a law professor and e-commerce specialist at Edhec, a French business school in Nice, said he would not be surprised if the court raised the penalty, and that Amazon "had no chance" with its appeal.
The law is "really clear," Manara said. "There is no way you can read the text to find a different result. And the court would have evidence of the firm's deliberate will to violate the law." A similar law regulating the price of books in Germany does not affect free shipping for Amazon.de, Mantello said.
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.
So France is making sure you have access to a wide variety of books by making them more expensive and harder to get from Amazon, which more or less has every book published for sale everywhere. I see. I imagine that Amazon's fine will have a few zeros added on the end in a month. France only surrenders if you have guns.