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As US gov't circles the wagons, Google's brass stays cool

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Zuma Press/Newscom/FILE

(Read caption) University of California Santa Cruz staffers truck a small
portion of the thousands of books UCSC would send to Google to be scanned for their Google Book Search engine. The project is under investigation by the US Department of Justice.

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A day after Google acknowledged it was being investigated by the US Justice Department, two of the company's lawyers said they saw no cause for concern.

"Most of these issues don't deal with our core business," said Dana Wagner, a competition lawyer for Google said yesterday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The newspaper also quoted Google's chief legal officer David Drummond, who declined to comment on the specifics of the case.

"We hear people's concerns and we want to address them," Drummond said. He said he expected Google's recent settlement on its Book Search project to be approved.

On Tuesday night, WSJ and The New York Times reported that the Justice Department had sent civil investigative demands – formal legal requests similar to subpoenas – to Google, a handful of publishers, the Association of American Publishers, and the Authors Guild.

The government is seeking information on $125 million deal between Google and a coalition of book publishers. The settlement, which was reached in October, gave Google exclusive rights to scan millions of books from around the world. These scans, according to the provisions of the deal, could then be made available through Google’s search tool.

Google launched its Book Search project in 2004. A year later, a group of authors and publishers sued, alleging that Google had ignored copyright laws. The October settlement, which has not yet been formally approved in court, includes a registry where the authors and writers of scanned books can receive small royalties.

As of now, only small snippets of text are available to users of Google Book Search.

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