Google Facing Antitrust Probe Over Book Deal

    April 29, 2009

Google is facing an antitrust investigation by the Justice Department over its class action deal it reached with publishers and authors to digitize and sell books.

Antitrust Issues Over Books

Last fall under a proposed settlement between Google and the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, Google agreed to pay $125 million to set up a Book Rights Registry, where copyright holders can register works and receive compensation from book sales.

Google has said it wants to create an "iTunes for books" that would allow people to search for copyrighted books online and make purchases.

Under the deal Google would be able to digitize and sell so-called orphan books, those still in copyright, but with no clear owner. That has raised concern about antitrust issues.

"There are legitimate antitrust issues related to Google’s ability to solely commercialize this content," Peter Brantley of the Internet Archive told Reuters.

On Tuesday a New York judge approved a four month extension to a group of authors deciding if they want to opt out of or object to the settlement. A final settlement hearing will be on October 7.