the excitement around Google’s extraordinary plan has obscured a dirty little secret: It is not at all clear that Google and these libraries have the legal right to do what is proposed. For work in the public domain, the right is clear enough. But for work not in the public domain, Google’s right to scan — to copy — whole texts to index is uncertain at best, even if it ultimately makes only snippets available. When permission has been given by the copyright holder, again there’s no problem. But when permission has not been secured, the law is essentially uncertain.