US DOJ urges court to reject Google's book deal

The US Department of Justice has filed its concerns over a deal between Google and several book publishers which would see the creation of what could be the world's biggest virtual library. They have urged the US District Court in New York, which is due to rule on the issue on October 7, to reject the deal in its current form but encourage further discussions.

The deal would allow Google to digitize, publish and commercialize millions of books online and has already been opposed by the Open Book Alliance along with technology giants - and Google's rivals - Microsoft, Yahoo! and Amazon. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said the agreement would raise copyright and anti-trust issues, with others arguing that it would provide Google with a monopoly.

The DOJ filing - which can be read in a PDF here - concludes that the court "should reject the proposed settlement in its current form and encourage the parties to continue negotiations to modify it so as to comply with [...] copyright and antitrust laws." It also says that the current form of the deal would most likely be seen as violating anti-trust laws by further investigations, but that Google and and the groups representing American publishers and authors involved should be able to revise their settlement to successfully comply with these laws.

"The Department of Justice's filing recognizes the value the settlement can provide by unlocking access to millions of books in the U.S.," Google, the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers said in a statement. "We are considering the points raised by the Department and look forward to addressing them as the court proceedings continue."

The proposed deal, which was agreed last October, would see Google pay $125 million to create a Book Rights Registry to allow authors and publishers to register and be compensated for the use of their works, but more controversially would also give Google the digital rights to millions of orphan works - books where the copyright holders are unknown.

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34 Comments

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I'm not sure why Google thinks it should have publishing rights to books that are already in the public domain. They should just publish those books themselves and not try for a "rights grab" to something they're not entitled to.

IMHO a small bit of background is useful to understand what the US DOJ is doing, so according to Wired (as I remember it) & FWIW...

The person in charge of this part of the DOJ, before/after joining the DOJ, has said that Google is the new Microsoft -- essentially a monopoly that has to be taken on the same way governments took on Microsoft. And in her opinion, in order to do that the DOJ had to create the right political environment 1st, so they could move at the right time instead of facing delays.

IMHO if the DOJ is trying to cast Google in a bad light, hoping to influence opinions & attitudes towards Google, they wouldn't (& aren't) passing up this chance to try & portray Google as bad.

It probably has something to do with Google's refusal to hand over user data to the US government. They aren't as placable to invasion of privacy requests in the same way MS is.

LoveThePenguin said,
It probably has something to do with Google's refusal to hand over user data to the US government. They aren't as placable to invasion of privacy requests in the same way MS is.

Google have handed over information quite willingly.

I don't see why Google shouldn't right now, from what i've heard, their plan is this.

-Scan all the books that they have rights to.

-Be able to distribute them to other companies like Yahoo and Microsoft. The only catch is that every book sold would have a small amount going towards google after all they did take all of the work to scan all of the pages.

-If Amazon wants to scan that same exact book that google did and not have to pay the small fee by google, they can.

Omen1393 said,
I don't see why Google shouldn't right now, from what i've heard, their plan is this.

-Scan all the books that they have rights to.

-Be able to distribute them to other companies like Yahoo and Microsoft. The only catch is that every book sold would have a small amount going towards google after all they did take all of the work to scan all of the pages.

-If Amazon wants to scan that same exact book that google did and not have to pay the small fee by google, they can.


Problem is the deal gives them the right to scan books that they dont have the rights for. If any author cant be found to reject the deal, it is assumed that he agrees with it.

Not to mention the fact that it gives too much power to Google. If you don't think this will give Google monopoly power over books then you are clearly drinking the kool-Aid. But time will tell

NPGMBR said,
Not to mention the fact that it gives too much power to Google. If you don't think this will give Google monopoly power over books then you are clearly drinking the kool-Aid. But time will tell

How will this give google a monopoly over the books I get at Borders and the library every month? Sounds like you've had a few sips yourself. If google wants to liberate information and provide it for free (ad supported of course) then I'm all for it. More options for the consumer the better.

neodorian said,
How will this give google a monopoly over the books I get at Borders and the library every month? Sounds like you've had a few sips yourself. If google wants to liberate information and provide it for free (ad supported of course) then I'm all for it. More options for the consumer the better.

If you believe the people opposed to the deal, with the majority of books in print, the copyright holders are unknown, so all of that money would be going to Google. Most of the stuff you buy at Borders is going to be more modern and have an identified copyright holder.

Xenon said,
Problem is the deal gives them the right to scan books that they dont have the rights for. If any author cant be found to reject the deal, it is assumed that he agrees with it.

With increasing numbers of orphan works falling into obscurity due to unbalanced copyright laws, I see this as a positive, not a negative. Dissemination of these works into the public domain enriches our culture, and encourages a modern day renaissance.

NPGMBR said,
Not to mention the fact that it gives too much power to Google. If you don't think this will give Google monopoly power over books then you are clearly drinking the kool-Aid. But time will tell

I don't see how google could have a monopoly when there are so many ways to access books. Look at how many e-readers and accompanying stores, not to mention the traditional book stores.

If you are talking about orphan or unclaimed copyrights then perhaps you should complain to the government who approved the unfairly skewed copyright laws we have today.

Well, if you are talking about Microsoft then you need more practice on your keyboard.

And if you are, go ahead and name a product Microsoft has where no competition exists. I won't be holding my breath.

Hahahaha I get it! I get jokes! You spelled "MS" with a dollar sign instead of an "s" because they like money hahahahalallolololol! So funny and original man!

Mr Byte said,
Isn't M$ the monopoly?


ooo oo oo I can do that too... Google'$ Book monopoly.... seriously, it's not 1999 anymore.....

GreyWolfSC said,
For what, books? No.

They would like to be no doubt. Which is why they joined the alliance. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, or something to that effect.

(snipped)

I don't see what the issue is, if the books are distributed using PBF and no DRM, if they don't and plan to restrict fair use then fair enough I'm behind MS block the move and make them ammend the terms.

(snipped)

The issue is mainly corporate rivalry. MS and amazon don't like the idea of google providing free access to books online when they could be selling them for $$. Pure greed, and the DOJ typically fights against the interests of the consumer; just look at the frequent amicus curiae submissions in copyright infringement cases involving the RIAA/MPAA, and how they support oppression of the people.

Google should digitalize anything anyone agreed to let them, get the **** outa here DoJ. The only monopoly her is the damn government.

DAaaMan64 said,
Google should digitalize anything anyone agreed to let them, get the **** outa here DoJ. The only monopoly her is the damn government.

Amen brother!!

neufuse said,
Controlling people duh....

Welcome to the XXI century, controlling people started in this country since 1776.

neodorian said,
What exactly does the "damn government" have a monopoly on?

What I don't understand is how these people never recognize the monopoly Reynolds has in their beloved tin foil hat industry...

DAaaMan64 said,
Google should digitalize anything anyone agreed to let them, get the **** outa here DoJ. The only monopoly her is the damn government.

When it's in the consumer's interest the DOJ likes to oppose it. Google provides free books online, what does MS or other members of the alliance do for us?

LoveThePenguin said,
When it's in the consumer's interest the DOJ likes to oppose it. Google provides free books online, what does MS or other members of the alliance do for us?

I totally agree. Damn them and their Microsoft antitrust investigation...

GreyWolfSC said,
I totally agree. Damn them and their Microsoft antitrust investigation...

Except that the investigation had little to no effect. Last time I checked it was business as usual for MS in the US.