State AGs Look Into Google Book Deal

    May 8, 2009

Google is facing more scrutiny over its proposed settlement it reached with copyright holders allowing it to digitize millions of books.

This time a group of state attorneys general have discussed the deal in a conference call held on Tuesday, Peter Brantley director of the Internet Archive told Reuters.

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

The deal has raised concern with libraries because it does not spell out what Google would eventually charge them.

"There was no indication that there was any specific activity planned," by the attorneys general, said Brantley, whose nonprofit Internet Archive also digitizes books in addition to building a digital library of Internet sites.

Google maintains the settlement would increase access to millions of books.

"The Department of Justice and several state attorneys general have contacted us to learn more about the impact of the settlement, and we are happy to answer their questions," a Google representative said in an e-mailed statement.

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.

The Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers reached a proposed settlement with Google last fall that has the company agreeing to pay $125 million to set up a Book Rights Registry, where copyright holders can register works and receive compensation from book sales.