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DOJ Confirms Google Antitrust Investigation 186

Posted by timothy
from the those-who-can't-regulate dept.
An anonymous reader points to Digital Daily, writing "Looks like the fireworks have begun early in Mountain View. On Thursday afternoon, the Department of Justice officially notified Google that it is investigating its book deal for violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act."
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DOJ Confirms Google Antitrust Investigation

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  • Finally, some hope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:51PM (#28565681) Homepage Journal

    The move is the strongest sign yet that the DOJ may block the settlement, which critics claim would grant Google (GOOG) a monopoly on orphaned works-copyrighted texts without an identifiable copyright holder.

    Heh, really? Maybe if there was some copyright reform no deal would be necessary. Maybe if copyright was an opt-in system, publishers could publish out of print books without having to worry about being sued by an absentee copyright holder.

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:25PM (#28566051)
      Exactly, if we would go to a 20 year copyright (10 years with mandatory registration with a 10 year renewal) along with clauses allowing for non-commercial use and distribution of any book, movie, program, etc. which is not being sold to the general public or is not available in the USA. And allowing the breaking of DRM for non-commercial use. Such things would eliminate this so called "Google monopoly" and improve our economy/country.
      • You seem to fantasize of a future where the federal government regulates in a relatively unbiased way, with power distributed amongst the 50 States United and "We the People" in charge.
        Our aristocrac^Wpolitical class and their plutocratic owners will educate you otherwise.
      • by cdrguru (88047) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @11:20PM (#28567887) Homepage

        That sort of non-copyright system would mean that anyone could block the revenue from any sort of creative work by simply making it available non-commercially. In other words, posting it on a P2P network would be legal, downloading it would be legal and nothing could be done to stop it.

        That would mean I would never have to pay for a movie ever again, and there would be no legal recourse. It would mean that nobody would ever have to pay for software ever again, because it would all be free.

        Oh, except for stupid people that would not know how to use P2P for downloading. They would have to pay. Too bad for them.

        I agree, it would be nice, except for anyone that is paid for software today. Or movies. Or music. Or books. I guess it would be great if you work in a WalMart, because you could now afford all that stuff. My employees would have to join you at WalMart.

        • ...Or you know, you would simply find other ways of making money from that. The way it currently is, I can get a better experience downloading a less-than-DVD quality movie then going to the movie theater. Even though the movie is of better quality, watching it really isn't when you have the people behind you talking, the kid screaming, the guy next to you texting, etc. Not to mention the $8 bag of popcorn and the $5 drink. With an experience like that theres wonder why people would pirate. With more high q
          • by Quothz (683368) on Friday July 03, 2009 @01:41AM (#28568647) Journal

            The way it currently is, I can get a better experience downloading a less-than-DVD quality movie then going to the movie theater.

            Why would you download it first, if you're going to the theater regardless? Wouldn't it make more sense to download it while you're at the theater?

            Okay, okay, sorry, but that sentence is a textbook example of why you should care about the difference between "then" and "than". I beg your forgiveness of my little compulsions.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          Exactly, if we would go to a 20 year copyright (10 years with mandatory registration with a 10 year renewal) along with clauses allowing for non-commercial use and distribution of any book, movie, program, etc. which is not being sold to the general public or is not available in the USA. And allowing the breaking of DRM for non-commercial use.

          That sort of non-copyright system would mean that anyone could block the revenue from any sort of creative work by simply making it available non-commercially.

          I didn't read this the way you did. I read it as saying the following:

          1. You must register for copyright protection.
          2. Copyright protection provides for ten years, with an optional ten year renewal.
          3. If you are not selling your material in a market, people in that market have the right to copy it for personal use only. (I have problems with this clause. I think it should be eradicated completely, but it could perhaps be modified instead.)
          4. You may circumvent DRM provided that you are not circumventing copyright. (Re
        • by gbjbaanb (229885)

          I can;t answer for movies, music or books but.... software is different. My boss has decided (ie read on managerial/executive/business opinion pieces) that in 5-10 years all software will be free, the competition from open source will be too great for proprietary software to effectively exist. Instead, all business models will revolve around maintenance and support.

          Now, I think that because I like open source software, but for him to understand it too (without even caring about F/OSS) is quite another matte

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 02, 2009 @10:02PM (#28567423)

      Yes, the "monopoly" in question is called "copyright". If companies are worried about the monopoly of orphan works, the answer is easy. Orphan works should fall into the public domain.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:54PM (#28565709) Journal
    I'm ok with this, as long as they investigate the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers as well.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ScrewMaster (602015) *

      I'm ok with this, as long as they investigate the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers as well.

      Nah ... all those old-line organizations seem to keep getting a free pass from any investigation. My guess is that they've been greasing the palms of numerous public officials for so long that to investigate them would air way too much dirty laundry. So the Feds pay them no attention, even though they're as dirty as the RIAA in their own way and just as deserving of investigation.

  • Serves you right! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pablo_max (626328) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @06:55PM (#28565719)

    Stupid companies.. Stop getting too big! Stop making so much money! Stop being so much better than your competition that everyone only uses your product. Being competitive means allowing the other guys to catch up! It also means you can't branch out too much..so keep your focus narrow.

    Anyone else think this is a little over zealous?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sexconker (1179573)

      Yup. I also think the shit they pulled against MS was overzealous.

      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:43PM (#28566225)
        Theres a big difference between MS and Google. What part of Google locks you in? Lets see... I can have my Gmail on a third party computer. My Google Docs can be exported to a non-proprietary format without losing formatting unlike MS Office. Etc. There is not a single thing that keeps me tied in to using only Google products except that Google products are better. On the other hand MS (still does or at least used to) prevent other OEMs from selling or at least adverting products without Windows or with a different OS or else they suffer financially. Use DOC or DOCX to keep Word documents locked in a proprietary standard and proprietary implementation (and no MS's implementation of OOXML does not follow the specs). IE broke many standards forcing web developers to code for IE only and because it didn't match the standards other browsers either had to emulate these bugs or suffer incorrectly rendered pages. Etc.

        Google is simply good at what it does so people keep coming back. MS simply forces people to use them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by The_Quinn (748261)

          Theres a big difference between MS and Google.

          No - there really isn't - not in a fundamental sense.

          Both companies make voluntary deals with everyone involved, to mutual advantage. Both companies make products that people like and want, and people are willing and glad to pay for them. Both companies provide technologies that help their customers make a lot of money, using them.

          As long as companies are dealing with everyone voluntarily, the government should not be involved. Only when a business violates an invidual's rights through force or fraud sho

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Darkness404 (1287218)

            As long as companies are dealing with everyone voluntarily, the government should not be involved. Only when a business violates an invidual's rights through force or fraud should the government get involved.

            That would be true, but the government uses a lot of MS software. By keeping the specs of a bunch of things closed or by not adhering to standards, they end up costing us, the taxpayers more in the long run. By locking the government into proprietary technologies that they are the only ones who can have a 100% guarantee they are rendering the document "correctly" the government will keep buying into them. Its effectively the same as having a public works bid but only allowing one company to bid.

            Anti-trust is based on the altruist idea that the more successful you are - (aka "selfish") - the more evil you are, and the evil successful need to be brought down to favor the less successful, or failures. This also happens to be the moral underpinning for bailouts, welfare, "soak the rich", government healthcare, and many more.

            However,

            • by The_Quinn (748261)

              That would be true, but the government uses a lot of MS software. By keeping the specs of a bunch of things closed or by not adhering to standards, they end up costing us, the taxpayers more in the long run. By locking the government into proprietary technologies that they are the only ones who can have a 100% guarantee they are rendering the document "correctly" the government will keep buying into them. Its effectively the same as having a public works bid but only allowing one company to bid.

              I don't disagree that how a government spends money is important. However that is secondary to the question of what is the primary purpose of a government. It's primary purpose is to protect individual's from force or fraud. This is contrary to the purpose of anti-trust laws, whose purpose are to prevent people from becoming "too successful". This is just another way of saying "you are free, unless your freedom makes you too successful". This political power causes government to become a blunt weapon t

          • by Sir_Dill (218371)

            Only when a business violates an individual's rights through force or fraud should the government get involved.

            This is part of the problem though. The companies are being given the same rights of an individual, but have influence far and above any individual ever would.

            Case in point - copyright

            Copyright was originally applied to individuals and would expire shortly after their lifetime.

            Companies are for the most part somewhat immortal and the individuals that run them are not individually responsible for their decisions .

            They are only beholden to the owners or shareholders which is ultimately all about the mon

          • by Quothz (683368)

            Both companies make voluntary deals with everyone involved, to mutual advantage.

            I disagree that this deal is totally voluntary. Nobody joined the class expecting this result, and the automatically-opted-in class members certainly didn't agree to it. It's a novel way to handle a class action, in which the infringing party profits, possibly at the expense of some who joined the class, and to the detriment of potential competitors, who were not allowed and will not be allowed to even attempt to compete (since this sort of deal cannot be arrived at through a normal contract - only by break

        • by Quothz (683368)

          Theres a big difference between MS and Google. What part of Google locks you in?

          Er... hello? Book deal? Summary? Article? Hello? ... Bueller?

    • yes.
      sounds just like the EU and Intel:
      "No company should have over a 50% market share for any reason"

    • Re:Serves you right! (Score:4, Informative)

      by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:05PM (#28565829)
      Slow down a bit. They're being investigated, not prosecuted. Even if they get brought to court and convicted of some antitrust charge, history has shown us the the punishments directed at corporations are inconsequential.
    • by Rycross (836649) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:35PM (#28566123)

      I'll stop worrying about companies getting too big when I stop hearing about how companies are "Too big to fail." Or when they aren't big enough to put serious economic pressure on other people/businesses. Or when they aren't big enough to be able to legally harass people despite having a flimsy case. Or when common people are able to routinely exact damages from them.

      Until then, I'm perfectly happy with society telling companies that they are too big and need to limit their scope. Large businesses have disproportionate power over me. Even more so if there are only a few options. I don't like being coerced, whether its by private companies or governments.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by The_Quinn (748261)

        The government is behind all of those problems: "Too big to fail", laws favoring business over individuals, and persecution of successful businesses.

        You are taking a "I'm fine with it until it changes" stance - but how does that attitude help anything? You are not even identifying the source of the problem, which is the power that the government wields over individuals and businesses.

        Once you have named this source, you can fight against it, explicitly, instead of taking an "I'm fine with it until it (magi

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Rycross (836649)

          It is, is it? You don't really offer any proof to that effect. Companies are perfectly able to grow very large without government assistance, and once they have disproportionate resources (economy, manpower, social influence), its a simple matter to utilize those resources to coerce people. Government is certainly part of the problem, and is certainly corruptible. But government is, in theory, the people working together to certain ends, and is, paradoxically, the best way for us to deal with entities t

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            It is, is it? You don't really offer any proof to that effect. Companies are perfectly able to grow very large without government assistance,

            False. Companies are not able to exist without government assistance.

            Further exposition follows: It is clearly possible for a group of people to come together to work to achieve a common goal without the involvement of government. However, the system of law and admittedly control which makes it possible for numerous groups to interoperate peacefully (to the extent that these interactions are peaceful today) requires the involvement of government if for no reason other than to regulate currencies. In order t

          • by The_Quinn (748261)

            once [corporations] have disproportionate resources (economy, manpower, social influence), its a simple matter to utilize those resources to coerce people.

            That is false - regardless of how successful a company is, it can still only deal voluntarily with everyone. All entities must always deal with each other through mutual consent.

            But government is ... the best way for us to deal with entities that are trying to infringe upon our rights.

            I would say this more stongly: the government is the only way to deal with entities that are trying to infringe upon our rights; however, the government, itself, should never infringe upon our rights.

            Today's government eschews individual rights - you are not regarded as a sovereign entity, free to pursue your own life. Instead, yo

        • by vux984 (928602)

          The government is behind all of those problems: "Too big to fail", laws favoring business over individuals, and persecution of successful businesses.

          Blame the government? Ok.

          So, your saying we the people elected representatives to represent our interests by passing 'too big to fail' laws... that doesn't really add up.

          But who is behind these "too big to fail laws" and "laws favoring business over individuals"? Why would the government we elected to represent us be behind that, unless, -gasp- the corporations

          • by The_Quinn (748261)

            If the government did not have power to expropriate our money, turn around and give it out as favors, then corporations would not be funneling huge amounts of money to politicians (which they only do to curry favor).

            That is why we need a separation of state and economics, just as we have a separation of church and state - and for the same reason.

            Just think, if there was no separation of church and state, would that make it the church's fault for all the government power it wielded?

            • by vux984 (928602)

              That is why we need a separation of state and economics, just as we have a separation of church and state - and for the same reason

              Er.. So the government would have a mandate to maintain a standing army to defend us, but have no means to fund it? How do schools and roads get built? How do fires get put out? How do crimes get solved? How do we get a mission to Mars?

              How exactly does this work?

              • by The_Quinn (748261)
                I would begin by saying that the philosophy of law is one of the most complicated applications of politics, and therefore - everything I say can be expanded upon (much of it has been, especially by the Austrian school of economists). My top recommended reading for economics is: Von Mises, for philosophy: Ayn Rand. Anyway, thanks for the reply, and here is my response.

                Er.. So the government would have a mandate to maintain a standing army to defend us, but have no means to fund it?

                I am saying that the government has nothing to say or do about economic matters, which is largely the purview of the regulatory part of gove

                • by vux984 (928602)

                  for philosophy: Ayn Rand

                  yep...and the rest of your post reads right from her playbook.

                  Sorry. No. I don't want to live in a Rand society, where if person's house catches fire whether or not it gets put out is decided by how much they'll pay, where if a person's liver fails there bank account decides if they die.

                  I don't want the school's and hospitals and fire departments to be built for the expectation of economic profit. Where children are denied or provided an education based on a factor they can't control

                  • by The_Quinn (748261)

                    That is an interesting psychological confession on your part: "People can't be free, otherwise children will die, houses will burn, children will wander the streets - uneducated and without insurance." So in your view, hard-working people, trying to be successful, cause death and destruction

                    In your mind, only a non-free, subservient people, who abandon their will to the collective group, can successfully be forced, by the government, into a utopia of educated, fire-protected life.

                    Profit means: producing mo

      • The "too big to fail" argument was made about AIG, and is largely true.

        AIG insured so many customers that no other company would have had the capital necessary to pick up the slack, not to mention that an AIG bankruptcy would have left a huge number of individuals and businesses around the globe without insurance. Liquidating $800+ billion of assets isn't easy when no other investors have that sort of capital.

        (This all doesn't mean the bailout was conducted particularly well. That's an entirely different

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        So you're saying that companies must operate under the same principles as public schools where the stupidest kid sets the pace for everyone else? That's brilliant. I was under the impression that the whole notion of antitrust was participating in anti-competitive behaviors not out-competing others.

        What has Google done to prevent Yahoo, Microsoft, or anyone else for that matter to secure a similar agreement with copyright holders of books so that they can create a competitor product? Shall we next go afte

    • No it is not over zealous. An investigation does not mean that there is monopolistic behavior that just means Google has gotten big enough to possibly be monopolistic. The indicators are all there, which could mean nothing. The DOJ is just making sure it is truly not occurring.
  • by duncan bayne (544299) <dhgbayne@gmail.com> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:02PM (#28565799) Homepage

    Yet another case of punishing business for success. Alan Greenspan had it right back in 1966 when he wrote this memo on anti-trust legislation [archive.org]:

    ...
    The world of antitrust is reminiscent of Alice's Wonderland: everything seemingly is, yet apparently isn't, simultaneously. It is a world in which competition is lauded as the basic axiom and guiding principle, yet "too much" competition is condemned as "cutthroat." It is a world in which actions designed to limit competition are branded as criminal when taken by businessmen, yet praised as "enlightened" when initiated by the government. It is a world in which the law is so vague that businessmen have no way of knowing whether specific actions will be declared illegal until they hear the judge's verdict -- after the fact.
    ...

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:22PM (#28565991) Journal

      Why should we listen to anything Alan Greenspan has to say?

      • by Rycross (836649) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:49PM (#28566285)
        I don't know why you're modded flame-bait. Greenspan was completely wrong on the banking industry and the economy, even admitting so himself. Is there any evidence that his opinion is worthwhile, or that following his suggestions would be prudent? Because it sure as hell isn't working out so well for us right now.
        • Actually yes; Greenspan abandoned his hard-core laissez-faire philosophy when he began working for the Government.

          The linked memo was written when he was still a friend of Rand's, and quite opposed to Government intervention in business or finance in any way.

      • Apparently in the 1960s he was less-corrupt, as displayed in his Gold and Economic Freedom [constitution.org], a strong argument for backing paper money with gold and having nothing like the corrupt Federal Reserve we have today. But ultimately we should not care who an argument comes from, merely that it stands up on its own merit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bemopolis (698691)

      Yet another case of punishing business for success.

      I prefer that to what we've seen lately, which is rewarding companies for failures of sufficient global impact.

      • I agree with you on that - businesses that fail should be left to be liquidised, just as individuals should rely on private charity. It's never right to force one group of people to pay for the decisions of another group.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Runaway1956 (1322357)

      Greenspan is pretty damned smart - but he isn't quite as smart as he thinks he is.

      As already has been noted in this thread, any company that grows so large that it's failure threatens the economic well being of the nation, something is SERIOUSLY wrong. Getting away from Wall Street, GM and Chrysler should never have made all the "acquisitions" they have made in the last 4 or maybe even 5 decades. The economic well being of this nation certainly didn't benefit from it.

      That said - DOJ may very well decide t

      • The economic well being of this nation certainly didn't benefit from it.

        A business is run for the benefit of its shareholders (if a listed company) or owners (if not). Are you seriously arguing that the Government should force businesses to regard 'the common good' or 'the national good'?

        That is, not just enforce laws against force & fraud, but actually force businessmen to run companies for the benefit of others?

        • "A business is run PRIMARILY for the benefit of its shareholders", with the approval of government and society at large.

          All business in America is licensed. Every single business you pass by or do business with. A restaurant, doctor, auto shop, landscaping, you name it. They all have a corporate charter, mission statement, or something. Even street vendors have to be licensed, or the cops can take them to jail for soliciting. If you can't convince someone that your business is going to be good for the

      • Greenspan is pretty damned smart - but he isn't quite as smart as he thinks he is.

        Isn't that pretty much the problem with ALL elected and appointed political figures?

    • Is like quoting

      - Steve Ballmer about Open Source.

      - Hitler about racial harmony.

      - GW Bush about English Grammar.

    • You know this is not about Google's search engine being anti-trust. It is about their deal/settlement on scanning books that are still under copyright but the author's of which they are unable to contact (also known as "orphan works"). I believe that this is a valid investigation. This deal allows Google to acquire control over the distribution of too much of our culture.
      As others have pointed out, the correct solution to this issue is copyright reform. The current term of copyright is much too long. There
  • Can someone please post information that relates to what Google is actually doing in the first place? I'm sure I could google it, but it would be nice to see people making posts on slashdot where the subject at hand is sufficiently described or referenced.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      Ok, basically due to the USA having a screwed up copyright system, Google got the exclusive rights to a ton of books with questionable copyright status for them to search/digitize. Because of this a bunch of other companies cried foul and now the people who got us in this screwed up copyright mess and gave Google all these rights is investigating them and costing us even more money then if we would do the sane thing and reform copyright laws.
      • Interesting... If you don't mind, I have one more question...

        Who was it that gave all of this to Google? Why was this not a problem until google got it? Shouldn't they be investigating the prior owners of this 'bundle'?

        and lastly.. WTF!? This sounds like a big waste of tax dollars.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          They are doing this because:
          If you want a book with questionable copyright status, YOU HAVE TO GO TO GOOGLE, no one but google has the power to deal with that type of book. How would this sound: You want a OS, you HAVE to go to Microsoft. You want a PC, you HAVE to go to Dell. You want to eat, You HAVE to get your food from the Government. You want to sleep, you HAVE to sleep on a bad from Acme.

          • well, isn't google putting the books up for free? and afaik its not like google is changing the product, but only providing it.

            I'm curious why this matters at all since the information is already publicly available and google is, for free, facilitating access to it.

            So, in a way what you are saying makes sense... that you can probably only get it from google... but it doesn't make sense in that having other choices even matters at all because what the product is, it is (google isn't changing it), and what y

    • Its under related stories, directly below the summary. Learn to use Slashdot damn it!

    • http://books.google.com/googlebooks/agreement/ [google.com]

      I look forward to "not available in your country".

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First let me say, don't ever trust the government...but when you have a very large company and a deal that is being called questionable by some. Isn't this what the DOJ is supposed to do, investigate and see if there is any merit to the complaints?

  • by unity100 (970058) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:13PM (#28565907) Homepage Journal

    back at the time ? in the last 8 years, microsoft got major fines from regulators and antitrust institutions around the world for anticompetitive practices, including European Union. yet, doj doesnt do any serious shit about microsoft. what gives ?

    • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:21PM (#28565989)
      Would a crack addicted cop bust their crack dealer? I don't think so. The US government is "addicted" to using MS products even when there are free alternatives available (and something tells me that they can hire 30 guys cheaper to patch OOo to make it work like they want it to than buying MS office licenses). Europe is much less addicted to MS and their anti-trust suits seem to have little basis (just look at Intel which got hit with suits even though there are many alternatives such as AMD and VIA for x86 compatible and entire markets of other architectures such as PPC, ARM, etc.) and seem to think that no company should have more than 50% marketshare for any reason.
      • by Spad (470073)

        Intel used their position to blackmail and bribe vendors into not selling AMD products to the extent that AMD couldn't even give *free* processors to vendors to sell because they were either on the take from Intel (Making them just as guilty IMO) or couldn't afford to have Intel cut off their CPU supply for selling AMD.

        I really have trouble understanding why so many people think the EU just files anti-trust lawsuits against companies for [Insert petty, childish reason, probably just jealousy about how great

      • by houghi (78078)

        and seem to think that no company should have more than 50% marketshare for any reason.

        In Belgium there must be at least three mobile operators BY LAW. Due to circumstances that does not mean we are so much cheaper. In fact in Belgium it os very expensive. However we have at least three to choose from.

        If that law would not have been enterd, we would have been lucky with two and most likely only one. Fixed lines is a duopoly at best.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dhaines (323241)
      Lobbyists, lobbyists, lobbyists, lobbyists, lobbyists!
  • by TropicalCoder (898500) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:22PM (#28565999) Homepage Journal

    Over the years, Microsoft has proven to be particulary inept at getting any traction with their search business. In January 2008, Microsoft made an unsolicited bid to purchase Yahoo. Their efforts were frustrated when Google came to Yahoo's rescue. To get their revenge Microsoft mobilized their army of lobbyists in a Plot to Kill Google [wired.com]. Microsoft persuaded other companies and trade groups to lend support to their FUD campaign against their arch enemy. You will recall that the powerful American Corn Growers Association was among them - this same organization who's members get billions in subsidies to produce environmentally unfriendly ethanol from corn.

    An article [nytimes.com] in the New York Times details Google's public-relations offensive to counteract the Microsoft generated FUD.

    The Times articles states about Google: "regulators are intensely scrutinizing its every move, as they once did with ... Microsoft. (My bold)

    Why is it - "as they once did with Microsoft"? Microsoft never changed the behaviour that lead to civil actions filed against Microsoft [wikipedia.org] in May of 1998 by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and 20 U.S. states.

    They have made a big mistake. The DOJ is after the wrong company! With a new administartion in place, their first priority should be to get Microsoft under control. The EU has really shown the world the the US DOJ has been asleep on its watch. If the DOJ woke up and stepped up to its long neglected responsibilities, it would be the USA raking in the billions in fines it will take to get Microsoft to behave itself, instead of the EU. Why in the world are they going after Google at this time?

    Google has been a shining example of how a good corporate citizen should behave, and Microsoft should be encouraged to emulate Google's example. Google doesn't lock people into its software or services. Any time you want you can use another search engine or pick up your Google docs and walk away. If there are some justifiable concerns about Google, I suggest that the DOJ first take care of elephant in the room - Microsoft - before turning to Google. It is just so disheartening to see the good guys getting DOJ's attention while the bad guy slips away. Microsoft, you hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from Google's eye.

    PS: I couldn't have written this short essay without Google there by my side the whole time as a friend to help me with the research.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Another way of looking at it is that the Yahoo! board completely screwed the pooch when they turned down the offer. Yahoo! currently has a market cap of $21 billion, just under 47% of the $44.6 billion that Microsoft offered for the company. Even if the deal had been entirely for Microsoft stock (much of it was for cash), Yahoo! shareholders would have something like 75 cents on the dollar today, instead of the 47 cents the board so gracefully awarded them.

      • by dbcad7 (771464)
        Well from an investors point of view, I suppose your right.. but a company is more than the shares that people put into it. Just because a competitor can buy you out, doesn't mean you want to sell out to them.. regardless of the amount.. Redhat is also publicly traded, would you say their board "screwed the pooch" if they rejected being bought out by Microsoft ?
        • by eihab (823648)

          Well from an investors point of view, I suppose your right.. but a company is more than the shares that people put into it.

          Unfortunately, a public company _is_ all about the shares that people put into them, the shareholders are after all the owners.

          If you have an agenda, morals or anything that doesn't have to do with maximizing profit then, for crying out loud, keep your company private and you'll save everyone a huge headache.

    • by Rycross (836649) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @07:39PM (#28566179)

      Microsoft was already brought to court over antitrust matters, lost, and was fined. Then the Bush administration basically gave them a pass. I don't think we can drag them to court again, unless they do something significantly new.

      Another thought: I'm not sure if the ISO/DOCX/ODF fiasco counts. I wish that it was looked into by the correct anti-trust officials, but I don't really know if that sort of thing breaks any laws.

      On the other hand, I'm not sure if I'd agree that Google has been the shining corporate citizen that you paint them to be. They have done some questionable things (privacy issues with StreetView, China dealings, etc).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Google was the last search engine to move into China. They don't even maintain logs of China originating transactions. They keep nothing of significance in that country. They don't deploy any of their latest 2 or 3 generations of technology into that country. They are prepared to cut it off from the rest of Google and shut it down in a heartbeat.

        They haven't coughed up any data on Chinese users to the Chinese government. The fact that they have to filter data (*and* indicate to the user that it *is* be

    • If the DOJ woke up and stepped up to its long neglected responsibilities, it would be the USA raking in the billions in fines it will take to get Microsoft to behave itself, instead of the EU.

      That's exactly why you shouldn't go tell them!

        -- ancient european proverb

  • Wait a minute.... (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by idiotnot (302133)

    ....weren't they big Obama supporters? How's that workin' out for y'all, now?

    • by Rycross (836649)

      Investigation isn't the same as taking them to court. Maybe the investigations will turn up nothing, coincidentally at the same time as Google gives a nice campaign donation some prominent Democrats.

  • by DragonTHC (208439) <Dragon.gamerslastwill@com> on Thursday July 02, 2009 @08:47PM (#28566819) Homepage Journal

    they're monopolies also.

    • cos they probably greased the palms of, erm I mean "contributed to the political campaign fund" of, the appropriate senator/congresscritter.
  • by wiredlogic (135348) on Thursday July 02, 2009 @10:15PM (#28567503)

    I can't believe that anyone in the DOJ is stupid enough to believe that Google taking the initiative to provide orphaned works to the public constitutes some sort of monopoly. The original work must still exist somewhere in print. It's not like they're engaging in Fahrenheit 451-style tactics to control all knowledge. Furthermore, making a settlement to get rid of a nuissance lawsuit doesn't represent an admission of wrongdoing. It's not like the idea of mass book scanning and indexing was an original idea of Google's that they have some exclusivity over. If anyone want's to engage in their own mission to do so they can. In fact there were academic projects to do just that before Google came along with their idea of how to do things. Google worked with them to help develop better technology to improve the throughput over existing scanner systems. The whole history of the books project [google.com] is available for anyone to peruse if they are interested. I don't see how anyone can construe the actions described therein as monopolistic.

    The only thing that's questionable is how far they're stretching the fair use principle in what they're doing. A strict interpretation of the law suggests that any complete duplication of a protected work constitutes infringement even if it is kept in private with only excerpts revealed to the public. Considering that the complaint centers around orphaned works still under copyright but with no one making a claim to them it isn't clear who the potentially damaged party is in this case. If someone wanted to acquire an orphaned work in its original form how would they do it? Resale of existing copies doesn't deprive the copyright holder of any income. If the publishing industry is wringing their hands over the inability to contact the copyright holder then they obviously can't be producing new copies of these works. So where is the damage?

    What's wrong is that it is saddeningly easy for MS to use it's network of lobbyists to buy their own special government services when they need them. What you have is a publishing industry that is scared of being obsoleted like the buggy whip manufacturers. MS loves to take advantage of organizations like this and use them to do their bidding such as how they used SCO to spread FUD on the use of Linux. A previous poster had it right when they surmised that this is payback for Google's interference in the attempted Yahoo buyout.

  • Antitrust laws are nothing more than a pure power-grab by the government, allowing the Gov to threaten endless lawsuits on any large company any time they want. It is rife with circular reasoning and has no definable test. Worse, many companies prosecuted under the law do not even have monopolies in their industry. And worse still, the companies that -do- have monopolies have them because the government gave them to them! Examples include the old phone system (AT&T), many utilities, and the Post Office.

  • Bill Gates crying into his webcam: "Just leave Google alone!"
  • Like friggin' banks. When a company gets so big that it can manipulate markets or it's failure would hurt the economy as a whole, the Sherman act is supposed to protect the citizens by empowering the government to step in. Instead of Google, how about Goldman Sachs? Man, the priorities in D.C. are seriously out of whack..

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik

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