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Google's Showdown with DOJ over Book Settlement

Most have missed that there's a big antitrust showdown happening this week. 

  • February 4th, the DOJ must file a second round of comments on the Google Book Settlement 2.0 with Federal District Court Judge Chin, after Google almost completely ignored DOJ's substantial legal objections in its Book Settlement 2.0 revision.   

The Google-DOJ showdown in a nutshell:

  • The DOJ's 9-18-09 Statement or Interest made clear DOJ believes the settlement is likely illegal under three completely different bodies of law (class action, copyright and antitrust), and also may be per se illegal in multiple different ways. (analysis here.)
  • Google and the other parties, in their 2.0 revision of the Book Settlement, almost completely ignored the DOJ's stated legal concerns.
  • If Google and the parties do not address the DOJ's concerns in advance of the DOJ's second statement of interest filing due February 4th, the DOJ will be thrust into law enforcement mode.     

This is a big deal.

  • The DOJ has drawn a line in the sand that the Google Book Settlement as configured is illegal and anticompetitive.
  • If Google continues to flout multiple laws and thumb their noses at the DOJ's views, the DOJ will have no choice but to enforce its position and its authority.
  • In the end, I doubt the substantial political pressure Google is trying to put on the DOJ will deter DOJ from doing its job, enforcing the law, and backing up its analysis and conclusions with action. 
  • It appears Google has no clue how far out of bounds they are in this Book Settlement.