Google deal with book industry under siege

Google (GOOG) nearly had a deal all wrapped up to digitize millions of books. The search engine company had made peace with authors and publishers in a plan that was supposed to be approved by a court.

Now, several media sources are reporting that Google's plans are in trouble. A coalition including Microsoft (MSFT), Amazon (AMZN) and Yahoo! (YHOO) is trying to block Google's project to put books online.

According toThe New York Times, the group includes an organization called The Internet Archive which plans to complain to the Justice Department that the arrangement is anticompetitive. The Justice Department is also examining Google's tentative deal on its own, the Times says.

The news shows the extent to which Google has become the new Microsoft. A decade ago, Redmond was considered the most powerful tech company in the world and smaller rivals would join legal authorities in other countries to challenge what was seen as monopolies created by the world's largest software company.

Google is now at the top of the tech hill. It has the capital, product dominance, and earnings power that make it appear to be a threat to a broad range of opponents, from authors to the advertisers who use its marketing services.

Google had better budget for much larger legal fees for the next several years the same way that Microsoft had to in its heyday.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.

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