Home Google Books Settlement under Scrutiny by Justice Department

Google Books Settlement under Scrutiny by Justice Department

Last October, Google announced that it had reached a deal with the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers, that would allow Google to scan, display, and sell advertising against out-of-print books. The advertising and subscription revenues from this deal would be shared between Google, the authors, and publishers. In the last few days, however, there have been a number of setbacks, and while the project probably won’t be derailed by these, it looks like there will definitely be some delays.

Just a few days ago, Google announced that it would extend the period for authors to opt out of the settlement, and now, according to reports in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department has begun an inquiry into the antitrust implications of the settlement.

A number of constituents had doubts about the agreement from the beginning. Librarians and academics, for example, fear that Google, which would basically be the only entity with a comparable license to publish these orphaned books online, would have no competition and would hence be able to charge libraries and other institutions any price it sees fit.

The Author’s Guild, which is not typically known for being especially progressive, advises its members to claim their books on the Google Books Settlement site.

It is hard not to feel a bit torn about this issue. On the one hand, the prospect of having free or cheap access to this enormous repository of texts is tantalizing, while giving even more power to Google seems problematic as well. At the same time, though, few companies will be able to replicate Google’s efforts (though it should be noted that this is a non-exclusive agreement), and the settlement is the closest we have come to a universal online library and a way for providing easy access to all of these books.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Get the biggest tech headlines of the day delivered to your inbox

    By signing up, you agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy. Unsubscribe anytime.

    Tech News

    Explore the latest in tech with our Tech News. We cut through the noise for concise, relevant updates, keeping you informed about the rapidly evolving tech landscape with curated content that separates signal from noise.

    In-Depth Tech Stories

    Explore tech impact in In-Depth Stories. Narrative data journalism offers comprehensive analyses, revealing stories behind data. Understand industry trends for a deeper perspective on tech's intricate relationships with society.

    Expert Reviews

    Empower decisions with Expert Reviews, merging industry expertise and insightful analysis. Delve into tech intricacies, get the best deals, and stay ahead with our trustworthy guide to navigating the ever-changing tech market.