Still think it’s an inspired idea, that must succeed; the amount of knowledge made available would be just mind boggling.
So many books would see the light of day, that would otherwise languish in a handful of largely hidden volumes. If anything the proportion of old texts that might benefit from new sales in printed (or electronic) form, would actually more likely be promoted by their on-line presence. (See legal music downloads story). For those older books with little prospect of sale ever again in print, the libraries themselves lose any commercial benefit from the cost of their custodianship, then this implies some fee needs to be paid somewhere, but surely the numbers add up easily from a very small Google subscription, if needed, and Google are investing millions in it anyway. Who needs to lose at all from this enormous benefit.
The copyright blockages must be temporary. See Google’s own blog here.