From Economic to Legal Competition

From Economic to Legal Competition

New Perspectives on Law and Institutions in Europe

New Horizons in Law and Economics series

Edited by Alain Marciano and Jean-Michel Josselin

The idea of legal competition as a decentralized market process of law provision in which legal clubs compete, has earned an indisputable legitimacy among economists. This book presents a debate concerning the merits of and conditions for a competitive provision of law, with a special focus on institutions in Europe.

Chapter 4: Resale price maintenance for books in Germany and the European Union: A Legal and economic analysis

Jurgen G. Backhaus and Reginald Hansen

Subjects: economics and finance, public finance, law - academic, european law


Jürgen G. Backhaus and Reginald Hansen INTRODUCTION ‘I fail to see how a regime that keeps book prices higher than they need to be promotes culture.’ EU Commissioner designate Mario Monti List prices and end price maintenance agreements between producers and vendors are not uncommon in some industries. Typically, such agreements occur when a brand name needs to be protected by specific services for maintenance of the product, by large stocks of materials necessary for the use of the products or if particularly high skills are required for the service to the customer in relation to the product. While, for instance, in the United States it is not uncommon for booksellers to discount149, in the German language area there has traditionally been a book price maintenance binding the booksellers not to discount (except under very specific conditions). Since Germany as a cultural entity extends over several sovereign states of which two are members of the European Union, an issue of cross-border traffic arises (between the Federal Republics of Austria and Germany), and a suit had been brought by the Austrian book chain ‘Libro-Amadeus’ which signalled that it would settle its suit in exchange for 100 German railroad station book stores.150 During the very last meeting of the European Commission under its president Jacques Santer, the Belgian Commissioner for Competition, Karel van Miert, had 149 The arrival of the Internet book trade has brought additional turbulence to book prices. Inc. for one has started to offer 50 per cent...

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