The Justice Department has sent requests for information from
and publishers about a deal that would allow the search company to make millions of books available online, a report says.
Wall Street Journal
, citing publishing company executives and people briefed on the matter, said the demands from the Justice Department signal it may seek to block or force a renegotiation of a settlement that was reached last year but has yet to be approved in court.
Google started scanning books in 2004 so the text could be searched online, but publishers and authors sued to stop Google's move the next year, alleging it violated copyright laws, the
notes. Google agreed last year to pay $125 million to settle claims, and it established a registry for publishers or authors to get paid when their titles are used online. Around April, Justice officials began looking into whether the agreement violated antitrust laws, according to the
. Google has said it has been contacted by regulators.
The settlement has been criticized by industry executives who say it will give Google broad copyright immunity and make it difficult for competitors to enter the market for digital titles, the
notes. Google, and some major publishing companies, have held the agreement up as a landmark case that will expand digital access to books.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to confirm or comment on its actions, the
reports. Some state attorneys general are also reviewing the settlement.