EU may flex regulatory muscles against Google book deal

1 06 2009

Over the past decade, the US has largely taken a laissez-faire approach to antitrust and commercial competition. As a result, the center of gravity for legal action in this area has moved to Europe, where the EU’s Competition Commissioner has gone several rounds with Microsoft and, more recently, levied a hefty fine against Intel. Now, just as reports suggest that Google is urging the Competition Commission to take further actions against Microsoft, the EU’s copyright authorities will be launching a formal investigation into the implications of Google’s settlement with book authors and publishers.

Google’s book deal appears to be stirring up antitrust concerns on this side of the Atlantic, as the Obama administration, which promises a revived focus on antitrust action, is looking into whether the settlement will leave the search giant in a dominant position when it comes to digitized versions of dead-tree content. Google has been involved in a few deals that were investigated by EU competition regulators in the past but, so far, the book deal has escaped this scrutiny.

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