* Justice Dept said also to ask publisher for information
* Probe is into antitrust aspect of book digitizing deal
(Adds quotes from Drummond, background)
By Diane Bartz
WASHINGTON, June 10 Google Inc (GOOG.O) has
received formal notice from the U.S. Justice Department that
antitrust investigators are looking into its settlement with
publishers that would help make millions of books available
Asked if the company had received the civil equivalent of a
subpoena, Google Chief Legal Officer David Drummond told
reporters: "Yeah, we did."
The Justice Department's antitrust division has also sent
formal information requests to Lagardere's (LAGA.PA) Hachette
Book Group and another publisher, the Wall Street Journal
reported on Tuesday.
Under a proposed settlement last October between Google and
the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers,
Google agreed to pay $125 million to create a Book Rights
Registry, where authors and publishers can register works and
receive compensation from institutional subscriptions or book
Google's plan is to let readers to search millions of
copyrighted books online, browse passages and purchase copies.
Drummond said he expected the federal court assessing the
settlement and the Justice Department to work parallel to each
"It's a separate question from the approval of the class
action settlement," Drummond said. "The judge's job is not to
review every question that the Department of Justice might
He also acknowledged the possibility that the agreement
might be tweaked, if necessary. "We're open to that sort of
thing ... if it's a compelling argument. We haven't heard it,"
Two experts on digitization told Reuters in April that the
Justice Department was making inquiries about the settlement.
U.S. states attorneys general have also made inquiries, an
expert told Reuters.
Google is also part of a Justice Department probe into
possible pacts by big tech businesses not to poach one
Google, Yahoo (YHOO.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O), computer and
music player maker Apple (AAPL.O) and biotech company
Genentech, now owned by Roche Holding AG ROG.VX, have
received notices that the Justice Department has a formal probe
under way, according to the source, who declined to be
identified because the investigation is ongoing.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, which also has antitrust
responsibilities, has a probe into Google and Apple Inc's
overlapping board members.
The Justice Department probes are evidence that its
antitrust division under new chief Christine Varney will be
more aggressive than President George W. Bush's antitrust
In a speech last month laying out her antitrust philosophy,
Varney pledged a more aggressive approach to dealing with
dominant companies that use their market power to crush
competition and lamented a lack of recent scrutiny of mergers
by companies in the same supply chain.
(Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Tim Dobbyn and Brian