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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