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Justice’s Google probe is ongoing

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Thu, Feb 25, 2010 at 5:05 pm

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I’ve just been reading the transcript from last week’s Fairness Hearing in the Google Books case and one thing is crystal clear: The U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust investigation of Google is by no means finished.

Arguing against the proposed settlement U.S. Deputy Assistant Attorney General William F. Cavanaugh told U.S. Judge Denny Chin:

"With respect to the antitrust issues, you Honor, our investigation is ongoing.  We thought it was appropriate to tell the court that we had this investigation and that we had these concerns." 

And another important message is the depth of DOJ’s concerns. It’s not just about the unfair advantage Google would get in selling so-called "orphan works", books that are out-of-print, but whose rightsholders cannot be found.  Said Cavanaugh:

"And we continue to investigate the potential impact this will have on many markets, including the search market, your Honor, in which Google already has a relatively dominant position."

Many analysts had thought that the DOJ simply looked at the original settlement and said it didn’t like it, prompting the parties to amend it.  Justice still opposed the amended plan. The really important thing, though, is that Justice Department lawyers are still digging, as well they should.

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This post was written by:

John M. Simpson

- who has written 362 posts on Inside Google.

John M. Simpson is a leading voice on technological privacy and stem cell research issues. His investigations this year of Google’s online privacy practices and book publishing agreements triggered intense media scrutiny and federal interest in the online giant’s business practices. His critique of patents on human embryonic stem cells has been key to expanding the ability of American scientists to conduct stem cell research. He has ensured that California’s taxpayer-funded stem cell research will lead to broadly accessible and affordable medicine and not just government-subsidized profiteering. Prior to joining Consumer Watchdog in 2005, he was executive editor of Tribune Media Services International, a syndication company. Before that, he was deputy editor of USA Today and editor of its international edition. Simpson taught journalism a Dublin City University in Ireland, and consulted for The Irish Times and The Gleaner in Jamaica. He served as president of the World Editors Forum. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from Harpur College of SUNY Binghamton and was a Gannett Fellow at the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. He has an M.A. in Communication Management from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication.

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