Epic Behind North Dakota Bill That Would Bar App Stores From Taking A Cut Of Sales

According to the New York Times, Epic Games is behind a proposed North Dakota bill that would bar app stores from taking a cut of sales. The proposal, Senate Bill 2333, was introduced to the North Dakota Senate last week in an effort to ban digital storefronts like Apple’s App Store and Google Play from forcing developers to exclusively use their payment systems or their storefronts for distribution.

The measure would also ban companies like Apple and Google from sanctioning developers who opt for other payment or distribution methods. Epic has taken both companies to court after they banned Fortnite from their storefronts when the developer and publisher introduced its own payment system last year in response to the App Store’s 30% cut of sales.

North Dakota State Senator Kyle Davison was reportedly “given the draft legislation by Lacee Bjork Anderson, a lobbyist with Odney Public Affairs in Bismarck,” who was hired by Epic Games. Anderson said she is being paid by the Coalition for App Fairness, a nonprofit, which includes companies like Epic Games and Spotify, that lobbies for “fair treatment by these app stores and the platform owners who operate them.”

In January, Epic hired lobbyists to push its agenda across the country. Several states are currently considering bills similar to North Dakota’s to limit the stronghold that big tech companies have on the market. If the North Dakota bill is passed, it will only apply to businesses operating in the state that generate over $10 million in revenue.

The Times reports that “Apple’s chief privacy engineer, Erik Neuenschwander, testified that the bill ‘threatens to destroy iPhone as you know it.’” Meanwhile, Epic’s lawsuit against Apple is set to go to trial in May. If the publisher wins, Apple’s control over mobile apps would suffer a serious blow.

Last August, the court granted a preliminary injunction against Apple to prevent the company from terminating Epic’s developer accounts, stating that Epic had shown “potential significant damage to both the Unreal Engine platform itself, and to the gaming industry generally.” However, the court refused to grant the injunction related to Fortnite as “the current predicament appears of [Epic’s] own making.”

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