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DoJ steps up Google Books probe

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The US Department of Justice is deepening its investigation into Google's Book deal.

The search giant has scanned some seven million books since 2004 and last year made a $125m settlement with the Association of American Publishers and the Author's Guild over copyright concerns.

The agreement allows authors to either claim a cut of Google's profits or have their work removed from the archive. It aims to start selling electronic versions of books later this year.

The deal also controversially allows Google to exploit "orphan books" - those still in copyright but whose authors cannot be found.

The Department of Justice has now sent formal requests for information to many of those involved, including publishers and authors groups.

A lawyer representing US authors in talks with Google told the New York Times that the government wanted a lot of information and the move showed it was serious about the antitrust aspects of the case.

The information requests do not show the government has decided one way or the other, but they do suggest there will be a formal probe.

European regulators are also investigating the deal. ®

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