Antitrust Concerns Prompt Google Books Probe

Deal gives Google exclusive chance to profit from texts, say critics

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 29, 2009 9:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – Federal lawyers are looking into whether a Google Book Search agreement with authors and publishers may violate antitrust laws, the New York Times reports. The settlement of a 2005 suit allows Google to put millions of scanned books online, charge viewers to read them, and share revenues with both groups. Opponents say the deal puts Google in an exclusive position to cash in on “orphan” texts whose rights holders aren’t known.

Justice Department lawyers have been discussing the matter with groups opposed to it, including the Internet Archive and Consumer Watchdog, but it’s not yet certain that the department will oppose the settlement, the Times notes. Google and authors and publishers involved in the deal say it helps all concerned, including the public, who would be able to view countless out-of-print volumes.

In a room dimly lit for the sake of capturing the pages of fragile antique books, Courtney Mitchel helps a giant desktop machine digest a rare, centuries-old Bible in Ann Arbor, Mich., March 21, 2008.
In a room dimly lit for the sake of capturing the pages of fragile antique books, Courtney Mitchel helps a giant desktop machine digest a rare, centuries-old Bible in Ann Arbor, Mich., March 21, 2008....   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Rare, fragile books are seen on a cart ready to be scanned in Ann Arbor, Mich., March 21, 2008.
Rare, fragile books are seen on a cart ready to be scanned in Ann Arbor, Mich., March 21, 2008.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Visitors look at an information screen at the Google Book Search stand at the International Frankfurt Book Fair 'Frankfurter Buchmesse' in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007.
Visitors look at an information screen at the Google Book Search stand at the International Frankfurt Book Fair 'Frankfurter Buchmesse' in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2007.   (AP Photo/Jens Meyer)
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