Justice Department extends Google probe

Search giant Google has received demands from the Department of Justice (DoJ) to assist it with its inquiries into the scanning of millions of books online.

The DoJ sent a CID (civil investigative demand) to Google. Last year, Google struck a deal with publishers which included a payment of $125 million and creating a registry allowing them and authors to get paid when someone accesses a scanned in book online.

That deal hasn’t received the sanction of a court, and it’s understood that the DoJ believes it might breach antitrust regulations. That’s because a deal between major publishers and Google over scanned books could preclude others from entering the digital book market.

Google is under investigation on several fronts now – and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several state attorney generals are also interested in gently probing the search behemoth.

While it will cooperate with the authorities, Google is also in the middle of a charm offensive to persuade government bodies worldwide that it’s not evil at all and isn’t a threat to others’ businesses.

The Obama administration has indicated that it will step up antitrust investigations into a number of tech firms.