Feds Step Up Antitrust Probe of Google Books Deal

Antitrust investigation focuses on Google's settlement with publishers

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 10, 2009 2:19 AM CDT

(Newser) – Justice Department investigators have intensified their probe into a deal Google made with publishers last year to put millions of books online, the Wall Street Journal reports. Publishers have been formally asked to provide information relating to the deal, which critics charge violates antitrust laws by giving Google an effective monopoly over "orphan text," for which the copyright holders are unknown or cannot be found.

"The Justice Department is clearly focused on Google," said one publishing executive. "It's a wide-ranging request for documentation." Insiders say Google considers the probe of the book deal, along with other probes of the company's business by antitrust regulators, to be part of an effort by the new administration to increase scrutiny of the technology industry after the relatively hands-off approach of the Bush years.

A worker helps a giant desktop machine digest a rare, centuries-old Bible in as part of Google Book Search's program to create digital versions of tens of millions of books.
A worker helps a giant desktop machine digest a rare, centuries-old Bible in as part of Google Book Search's program to create digital versions of tens of millions of books.   (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Visitors check out an information screen at the Google Book Search stand at the International Frankfurt Book Fair Frankfurter Buchmesse in Frankfurt, Germany.
Visitors check out an information screen at the Google Book Search stand at the International Frankfurt Book Fair "Frankfurter Buchmesse" in Frankfurt, Germany.   (AP Photo/Jens Meyer, file)
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From my perspective, at our scale and with the impact we have, we expect to be inspected. We expect it in every government. I am not saying we love it or we hate it.
- Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt

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