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Is Google Books uncompetitive?

18th September 2009

Google is discussing modifications to its online books settlement with the US Justice Department over concerns the project is uncompetitive.

The search engine giant, several major publishers and a group of authors are engaged in talks aimed at reassuring the department, reports Bloomberg, as the technology giant looks to sidestep accusations that its plans to make out-of-print books freely available will close the door on competitors.

Discussions were prompted by US district judge Denny Chin in New York, who has ordered the parties to respond to questions about the 'digital library' proposals, with sources confirming details of the talks with the news agency.

Google has so far made more than a million books available for viewing or download online and has already announced plans to expand the service.

Readers will soon be able to print a physical copy of the books available through the service in addition to reading them in a digital format, according to Google's product manager Brandon Badger.

Critics have warned that the provision of books online will undercut the copyright claims of publishers and authors on both sides of the Atlantic, with the case already proving a hugely complicated legal issue.

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