Jim Minatel, an acquisitions editor at Wiley for one of my books, believes that Google's plan to turn web-crawling googlebots loose on print libraries is a clear violation of copyright.
I'm not so sure.
If I had a copy of the world's most useful computer book (let's call it Movable Type 3 Bible Desktop Edition), and I made a practice of sending one page of the book to people who asked a question answered by that page, would I be violating Wiley's copyright?
Selective quotation of a book is fair use. Is repeated selective quotation of a book still fair?
There are full-text books on the web under copyright, such as Live Simple by John December. Google did to this book what it wants to do to library books in the real world -- it grabbed copies of all the pages and will search the text in response to a query, presenting the relevant excerpts.
As an armchair copyright lawyer, I can't figure out how it matters that Google grabbed one book with a bot and grabbed the other with a scanner. Google grabs the full text of copyrighted works all the time -- 56,000 on this server alone. If Google Print is illegal, wouldn't Google be illegal as well?
Thank God we have wealthy corporations with high-powered intellectual property lawyers who can answer this question for us.