If it were up to me, I’d vote with the public interest. I sometimes feel that if the increasingly expansive view of copyright asserted today had been around a couple of centuries ago, the Supreme Court would have ruled that lending libraries were illegal. But just as circulating libraries have a social value that far outweighs the minimal intrusion they produce in an author’s ability to control the distribution of her work, the same is true of Google’s project. The technology has changed, but the principle is the same.
At the same time, it’s too bad this has to be decided by the courts. It’s really a job for Congress, after all. Unfortunately, both Republicans and Democrats appear to be so thoroughly bought and paid for by the content industry that it’s pretty much inconceivable they’d do the right thing if it were brought to a vote. So it’s off to court we go, with the hope that existing law will be enough. I hope Google wins.