Why have universities been let off the hook in the author suit against Google for its unauthorized scanning of countless copyrighted books without permission? After, all they're as much to blame as Google.
Four academic libraries (Stanford, Harvard, Oxford and the University of Michigan) and the New York Public Library are allowing Google to to scan sizable portions of their collections and make them available for searching via Google. Copyrighted books will be scanned without the permission of copyright holders. But Google has taken all the public hits for the move, while the libraries appear to be Teflon-coated.
Google can't do this on its own --- it needs to get the books from somewhere. And the big, well-known universities are only too happy to oblige. What do the universities get out of it? First off, free publicity. You may not think they need it, but higher education is a dog-eat-dog world, with top schools vying for the top students. The more publicity the schools get, the better for them.
Money is involved as well. By having Google do the scanning, the universities don't have to do the work themselves. They've long wanted to digitize their libraries. Now they're getting it done for free.
The universities should pull out, and if not, they should be sued, along with Google. They shouldn't be in the business of violating copyright laws. As for the money aspect, they can pay to scan their books themselves. After all, Harvard's endowment is nearly $26 billion -- it can certainly afford to pay for a few scanners.