Band Of Brothers: Amazon, Yahoo, Microsoft Fight Google


To thwart Google's Library Project, the companies have joined a new association, The Open Book Alliance. The alliance is an umbrella group driven by The Internet Archive, a non-profit group dedicated to providing free online digital content.

Since its launch three years ago, Google's Library Project, which digitizes books, ran afoul of The Authors Guild, the American Association of Publishers and individual authors, who sued Google alleging copyright infringement. The parties reached an agreement in 2008, with both sides agreeing to a preliminary $125 million settlement to avoid a trial case, according to court documents. In return, Google was released from any alleged liability and agreed to fund publishing programs.

In April 2009, Adam Smith, director of product management for Google Book Search wrote a blog post explaining how the Google Book Search settlement would expand the public's access to out-of-print and otherwise hard-to-find books.

"When you find the book you're searching for, you'll be able to preview 20 percent of the book over the Internet from anywhere in the U.S.," Smith wrote. "If you want to look at the whole thing, you'll be able to go down to your public library where there will be a computer station with access to the whole book for free."

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However, those terms do little to satisfy anti-competitive concerns brought up by, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Separately, the Department of Justice began an investigation earlier this year looking into antitrust issues regarding the book program.

In April 2009, the Association of American Publishers was contacted by the DOJ to discuss the proposed settlement regarding Google's Book Search service.

However, Allan Adler, the AAP's vice president of legal and governmental affairs, stressed that the DOJ's involvement does not necessarily mean that there are grave antitrust issues at stake.

"We've been contacted by the DOJ and they want us to visit with them to discuss the preliminary agreement with Google," Adler said. "All of the parties involved have been in touch with the DOJ. It's much too soon to guess how serious DOJ's concerns are at this point."