When 75% of all books are under indeterminate copyright status, clearly there is something wrong with the copyright system. This type of legal issue, perpetuated by large copyright holders; is preventing the folks at google from creating a library to rival the lost library at Alexandria.
Vaidhyanathan believes that what Google wants to do may well be illegal under today’s copyright regime. At the same time, he notes that Google can’t really create a system that relies on publishers’ granting permission to digitize their books, namely because nobody really knows who owns the rights to all the books in the library. So, Vaidhyanathan says, Google is stuck; scanning books without asking permission may be illegal, and scanning books after asking permission is impractical to the point of impossibility.