US Justice Dept looks into Google Books settlement

The US department that pursued Microsoft for years in monopoly-busting antitrust lawsuits is taking a close look at Google’s proposed settlement with the book industry.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has formally notified Google and the judge overseeing the Google Books settlement of its intention to investigate based on preliminary antitrust concerns.

We’re no doubt going to be seeing a lot more of this sort of action. While earlier waves of technology have seen regulators taking on monopolies — Microsoft in the PC era, IBM in the mainframe era, and before that the AT&T break-up of the telephone network — the internet will likely see the growth of many more monopolies.

Google’s 78% marketshare in search and its enormous impact in markets such as advertising and media make it a likely target. It’s particularly interesting that the DOJ should be looking at its impact in the book market as it makes its first move against Google.