I know this topic already is taking up a lot of bandwidth, airtime and printspace in lots of other venues, but it's important enough to spread as much info as possible.
Tomorrow representatives from Google, the Author's Guild and the Association of American Publishers will meet in NY City to discuss the big hullabaloo over Google wanting to scan and publish vast quantities of material online. A large part of the disagreement seems to come from the way tech companies do business; tech companies often get so enamored with their new toys and blaze ahead, hoping law will restructure around them. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it is bound to cause some intense debate over the next several months until both sides come to some kind of an agreement. Whatever happens, the publishing industry and writers may very well face some of the same issues music labels have dealt with ever since Napster first went online.
Quite possibly one of the better looks at the issues involved comes not from a lawyer or a tech expert, but a lone writer in Scotland. Author Charlie Stross speaks from the unique point of view of an author who offered his recent novel Accelerando for free online while you could still buy a hardcopy at your local bookstore. More than anything, I appreciate his point that he just wants to be asked first.
If you need more detailed info, take a look at the COCOA proposal and even sign their petition. It's an important issue for anyone who writes or who wants to write for a living, and best to be informed as much as you can.