The book price regulation under the Publication Law, the so called fixed book price system is one of resale price maintenances that controls the rights of distributers or stores that can determine the selling price for end consumers by fixing the price determined by the manufacturer. The regulation was first enforced in February, 2003 in the name of Publication and Printing Promotion Act, and after two amendments, it was expanded to Publishing Industry Promotion Act and lasted for 3 years since November 21, 2014. However, it failed to accomplish its purpose to protect publishing industry and small & medium book stores and only brought harm upon consumers’ interests. The regulation received bad reviews pointing out that it was in fact a failure, and as for the future legislation, there is a sharp conflict among the people advocating transition to Complete Book Price Regulation or abolition of the fixed book price system itself.
In this context, in regard to the fixed book price system which is the subject under debate about the actions to be taken (neutralization, maintenance or abolition under Clause 2, Article 27 of the Publication Law), this study identified the legislation background of the Publication Law controlling the fixed book price system and the problems of individual provisions, and proposed improvement areas. To do this, the study first looked into the trend of the theory about the fixed book price system, identified the system’s limitations and the issues to be solved, considered the legal implications and purposes of the fixed book price system, looked into the history of the fixed book price system and presented implications by comparing the current legislation of other countries and that of Korea. Also, this study looked into what triggered introduction of the fixed book price in Korea and the legislation progress, identified the issues, reviewed the trend of the changes in attribution of interests through analysis of statistical indicator after expanded enforcement of the fixed book price system and identified improvement area in the provisions of the Publication Law containing the expanded fixed book price system.
Through the above, specific issues were identified and improvement areas were proposed including distinct characteristics of books which need to be protected through price control, relations with the provisions associated with literary productions under Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act after deletion of the provision linked to the same act specified in Clause 3, Article 22 of the revised Publication Law, validity of unlimited period of the fixed price system, appropriateness of applying the fixed price system to national and local libraries, validity of a third party’s discount, effectiveness of imposition of fine and different book supply rates between book stores.
Reflecting on the progress of the fixed book price system, it may be anticipated that in the future, many bills will be passed based on the opinions mainly presented by the groups of people and the competent Ministry directly benefiting from the legislation. However, when controlling contracts by restricting freedom of price determination, not only legitimacy of the purpose and fitness & purposefulness of the means but also supplementary nature, consequential efficiency and ripple effect must be considered.