After several years of fighting a large copyright issue, the GOOGLE v. Publishers and Authors suit settled out for about $125 million. The deal they struck is that GOOGLE gets to continue putting together its online library and the publishers and authors go away compensated for their copyright interests.
It turns out that it’s not that easy. In comes the US Justice Department. The DOJ is investigating the GOOGLE/publishers-and-authors deal with an eye toward finding an antitrust violation hidden somewhere in that deal.
It is true that the deal would make GOOGLE the leading online source of books — after all, it ain’t Yahoo scanning in those millions of titles from the large repositories. However, there is nothing that I know of in the deal to prevent Yahoo, or anyone else, from also reaching a deal with the authors and publishers and scanning in the works to compete with GOOGLE; GOOGLE just happens to be the first kid on the block to come up with this notion. This is a deal that was reached between these particular litigants to allow a project that could be of significant benefit to the whole world to go forward.
Now, I’m sure there’s something here that I don’t know about, but antitrust? Where’s the restraint of trade?