Google faces antitrust action over book scans

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Washington, DC - Search behemoth Google is under investigation as the US Justice Department probes its plan to publish the digitized contents of millions of books to see if it contravenes antitrust laws.

Google has scanned millions of books since 2004 to include in both its book contents search service and to sell in digital format. The company had agreed to share revenue with the copyright owners, but now the Justice Department thinks the deal could compromise efforts by other companies to enter the digital book market and could give Google exclusivity on online works whose rights holders are unknown.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said last month that the company had 'strong opinions' about the settlement and that it needed to be revisited. US District Court Judge Denny Chin is to review the agreement in October. Regulators have until September 18 to file depositions.

Book search could break antitrust laws

A Google spokesperson said the company remained confident in the legality of the settlement: "It's important to note that this agreement is nonexclusive and if approved by the court stands to expand access to millions of books in the US"

Libraries have also warned that the deal could prove expensive for them when Google announces subscription rates.