A great deal (read: “everything”) will depend on the details, but Google has just announced a settlement with book publishers that resolves their long-standing lawsuit. It includes a provision for “researchers to study the millions of volumes in the Book Search index. Academics will be able to apply through an institution to run computational queries through the index without actually reading individual books.”
More to follow. In the meantime, see Dan Cohen’s “First Impressions of the Google Books Settlement,” which hits the high points.