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Timothy Brennan, Oct 30, 2009
Google’s actions in this matter, and perhaps others (e.g., interlocking directorates), are taking place against a backdrop of the promise from the Obama administration’s antitrust authorities to give single-firm conduct the attention they believe it deserved but did not get during the prior administration. The leading indicator of this changed attitude is Antitrust Division’s decision to withdraw, as too lax, the Department of Justice’s report on how to assess the competitive effects of single-firm conduct. If that was not enough, the Google Books matter also brings to mind the increasing importance in an information-based economy of intellectual property in this case copyright and the tension many perceive between the exclusivity of IP and the openness of competition. Closely related to that point is the substitution of digital content delivery for traditional hard-copy based methods; a development affecting not just books but audio recordings, newspapers, and films.