FairSearch.org, the coalition fighting the Google-ITA Software deal, sees a parallel in Google's attempts to make inroads into the book market and the alleged possibility that it would withhold airfare content if the acquisition is approved.
A federal judge this week overturned a 2008 settlement between Google and book publishers and authors. Google had scanned millions of books and planned to make snippets of them available online.
In blocking the settlement -- and the parties likely will get back to the bargaining table -- Judge Denny Chin wrote that the agreement "would arguably give Google control over the [book] search market."
FairSearch had the following to say about the book decision.
The "rejection of the Google Books settlement by Federal appeals court Judge Denny Chin confirms that allowing Google to acquire exclusive access to content and withhold it from other search engines – as Google threatens to do with ITA Software in online flight search – raises serious antitrust concerns.
"Judge Chin recognized that the proposal he rejected 'would further entrench Google’s market power in the online search market.' ... [The] ruling reaffirms the Justice Department was right to take on Google on this issue and that enforcing antitrust laws is essential to ensuring that Google not be allowed to harm consumers or competition by illegally extending its dominance in online search."
On the withholding content issue, FairSearch.org members have argued that Google could bar ITA Software customers from gaining access to the latest technology updates or would refuse to renew software licenses.
And, there also is a fear that customers -- or former customers, that is -- would lose access to real-time feeds of airline fare and availability data.
Google is on record as saying that it would honor ITA Software's existing contracts and that Google would not negotiate renewals in public.
Google couldn't immediately be reached for comment on FairSearch's statement about the books decision.