Justice Dept. says new Google Books settlement still raises antitrust concerns


When Google and the Authors Guild submitted the first settlement agreement in September, Justice found significant flaws and told the court to reject it. Justice cited the exclusive nature of the agreement and the power it would give Google to set prices and control access to literary works.

The new settlement, which Google submitted in November, was criticized by competitors such as Amazon.com as well as independent authors and publishers who are not part of the class action law suit but would still be affected by the agreement.

The biggest concern was for unclaimed or "orphan works." The settlement would give Google too much control over the licensing of the works, the Open Books Alliance claims.

The Justice Department agreed that the agreement "still confers significant and possibly anticompetitive advantages on Google as a single entity, thereby enabling the company to be the only competitor in the digital marketplace with the rights to distribute and otherwise exploit a vast array of works in multiple formats."

The district court is scheduled to hold a hearing on the settlement agreement on Feb. 18.