AT&T, DOJ square off in a battle with implications for schools

The Justice Department filed 138 antitrust cases in federal courts from 1999 to 2008 and lost just four of them.

The Justice Department’s rejection of AT&T’s proposed purchase of T-Mobile USA will test new federal guidelines on challenging mergers, as well as the companies’ resolve in forming the nation’s largest wireless carrier. Schools and other consumers, meanwhile, will be watching the battle to see how it plays out—and what the landscape for wireless service will be as a result.

The Justice Department on Aug. 31 took the unusual step of filing a lawsuit to try to block AT&T’s $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA, arguing that the proposed merger would lead to higher wireless prices, less innovation, and fewer choices for consumers.

The move comes as more schools are integrating into their instruction smart phones, tablets, and other devices that connect over a 3G or 4G wireless network.…Read More

Online law school applications to be accessible for the blind

The Justice Department says online law school applications will be more accessible to blind students in time for fall 2012 admissions.

Online law school applications soon will be useable by the blind under a court settlement obtained by the federal Justice Department.

The National Federation of the Blind had sued the Law School Admission Council, complaining that its online application service used by laws schools across the country wasn’t compatible with screen readers that blind persons use to navigate the internet.

The Justice Department got involved and announced April 26 that a settlement had been reached that will make the applications accessible for fall 2012 admissions.…Read More

Apple is said to face inquiry about online music

The Justice Department is examining Apple’s tactics in the market for digital music, and its staff members have talked to major music labels and Internet music companies, according to several people briefed on the conversations, The New York Times reports. The antitrust inquiry is in the early stages, these people say, and the conversations have revolved broadly around the dynamics of selling music online. But people briefed on the inquiries also said investigators had asked in particular about recent allegations that Apple used its dominant market position to persuade music labels to refuse to give the online retailer Amazon.com exclusive access to music about to be released. All these people spoke on condition of anonymity, citing the delicacy of the matter. Representatives from Apple and Amazon declined to comment. Gina Talamona, a deputy director at the Justice Department, also declined to comment.

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Google rebuts DOJ objections to digital book deal

Google is taking on the DOJ in defending its revised book-scanning settlement.
Google is taking on the DOJ in defending its book-scanning settlement.

Google Inc. wants the digital rights to millions of books badly enough that it’s willing to take on the U.S. Department of Justice in a court battle over whether the internet search leader’s book-scanning ambitions would break antitrust and copyright laws—a battle with important implications for students, teachers, scholars, and researchers.

The stage for the showdown was set Feb. 11 with a Google court filing that defended the $125 million settlement of a class-action lawsuit the company reached with U.S. authors and publishers more than 14 months ago.

Google’s 67-page filing includes a rebuttal to the Justice Department’s belief that the settlement would thwart competition in the book market and undermine copyright law. The brief also tries to overcome a chorus of criticism from several of its rivals, watchdog groups, state governments, and even some foreign governments.…Read More

Feds still troubled by Google Books deal

Federal officials think Google's revised book-scanning settlement still gives the company too much power.
Federal officials think Google's revised book-scanning settlement still gives the company too much power.

The U.S. Justice Department still thinks a proposal to give Google the digital rights to millions of hard-to-find books threatens to stifle competition and undermine copyright laws, despite revisions aimed at easing those concerns.

The opinion filed Feb. 4 in New York federal court is a significant setback in Google’s effort to win approval of a 15-month-old legal settlement that would put the internet search leader in charge of a vast electronic library and store.

A diverse mix of Google rivals, consumer watchdogs, academic experts, literary agents, state governments, and even foreign governments already have urged U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to reject the agreement.…Read More