The US Department of Justice has launched an inquiry into the deals that Google set up with authors and publishers with its Google Book Search and implications of antitrust. The Justice Department is not yet going into full opposition mode over the settlement struck by Google and publishers, which began with a 2005 class action suit by the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers against Google.
The settlement of this suit gives Google the ok to house the books online and make profit from their Google Book Search library, which is to be split between Google, authors and publishers.
The New York Times reports :
Lawyers for the Justice Department have been in conversations in recent weeks with various groups opposed to the settlement, including the Internet Archive and Consumer Watchdog. More recently, Justice Department lawyers notified the parties to the settlement, including Google, and representatives for the Association of American Publishers and the Authors Guild, that they were looking into various antitrust issues related to the far-reaching agreement.
The inquiry does not necessarily mean that the department will oppose the settlement, which is subject to a court review. But it suggests that some of the concerns raised by critics, who say the settlement would unfairly give Google an exclusive license to profit from millions of books, have resonated with the Justice Department.