The Justice Department has issued civil investigative demands (CIDs) to two publishing companies regarding a deal struck with Google last year, allowing Google to digitize books and monetize them through Google Books, reports the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).
The Journal did not give any indication as to why the Department is seeking these records specifically.
The Department’s Antitrust Division is probing the Google Books settlement because of fears that it may give Google Books a monopoly, since no other company could legally digitize books without explicit permission from each individual publisher. Google, on the other hand, is getting a deal where publishers have to opt-out, meaning Google can use books without negotiating with the rights owners of every book it puts online. There are also concerns that the parties involved in the settlement negotiations may not be representing the interests of all of the parties that will be affected by the settlement.