Google Gets the Department of Justice’s Seal of Non-Approval



I can hear it now. We normal folks won’t be able to hear this signal (kind of like a dog whistle) but this is being sounded across the US to Washington, DC from Mountain View, CA as we speak.

“Calling all ex-Google employees in DC! Calling all ex-Google employees in DC! (Especially if you still have stock) I repeat – Calling all ex-Google employees in DC! This is your real leader, Eric Schmidt, and we need you to ‘talk’ to some people about this ‘problem’ that the US government has with our book deal. Remember where your allegiance is and who is more powerful. Go and do your duty for the Goog immediately. Thanks and have a great day!”

OK, so it really is a ridiculous thought but I bet the folks at Google wish that could happen when a road block like this happens to a deal that seems quite important to one of the most powerful companies in the world. Sfgate.com tells us

The Department of Justice said in a filing late Thursday that revisions to the proposed legal settlement allowing Google Inc. to publish millions of books online didn’t do enough to allay antitrust, copyright and other legal concerns.

The landmark deal would allow the Mountain View search titan to move ahead with its ambitious project while establishing a system for identifying and paying appropriate rights holders.

The government acknowledged “substantial progress” on several issues, but said in a statement filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that core concerns remain unresolved, including the amount of power granted to Google.

There is quite a bit at stake with this book deal for sure and there are those who are both for and against. Those against include library groups, academics and competitors who have privacy and anti-competitive concerns. Those for the deal include student, minorities and the disabled because the service would provide the ability to access more information than ever.

Google is doing an “act as if” and not really publicly recognizing this decision that could influence whether this gets past the government’s scrutiny or not. This whole drama has been two years in the making and Google has had a similar battle in Europe. Whether this will ever reach the point of an agreement that allows Google to do what is proposed for many out of print volumes is a major TBD (to be determined).

Google keeps running precariously close to the line that reads “If crossed people will yell monopoly!” I suspect they would like just one victory but whether that will happen in this case may be more out of their control than usual.

How do you feel about this book agreement? Have you followed it? Do you care? If Google gets the green light is it truly giving them to much power? If they can’t do it will any of these books ever be seen again by anyone?