The control over the work is the only thing that enables copyright holders to ensure that they get paid for it.
I believe that in England and some other countries copyright holders also have “moral rights.” In the US they don’t. But, most of them still care very much how their work is used and have strong opinions about things like, whether certain types of ads are sold in conjunction with their work.
Since you apparently do not work in publishing, you may not be aware that producing books involves considerable effort by many people in addition to the author: Including editors (often two or more doing different things), proofreaders, fact checkers, illustrators, photographers, indexers, graphic artists, and translators to and from foreign languages. Then, the publisher has considerable overhead: Rent, accounting services, legal fees, computer equipment and maintenance of same, office supplies and furniture, utility bills, and many other things.
Marketing a book is absolutely necessary. Readers seldom just find books. The publisher has to find readers (and also, bookstores and other retailers), and not only tell them the book exists but convince them it is worth buying. The publisher has to write marketing copy, send out review copies, send live salespeople and/or mailings, and generally drum up business. Social networking is proving to be an extremely time intensive and not very effective marketing method, though it sometimes works well.
Occasionally an illustrator working in tandem with an author will work on a royalty basis. But usually, everyone but the author demands payment up front (or within some common invoicing period such as 30 days). Since before I entered the industry and ever since, publishers have been using freelancers for much of their line editing, proofreading, indexing, graphic arts, and other kinds of work, so they do not have to pay for office space, supplies, or equipment for all these people. And they are now using the Internet to find freelancers in geographic areas where people charge less, sometimes inside the US and sometimes outside it.
And that’s not counting the costs of offset printers or warehousing costs—which, however, do not compose nearly as high a percentage of costs as many e-book advocates think. You also many not know that print-on-demand costs significantly more than offset printing per copy, and the current quality is too low for many illustrated books (color illustrations, especially).
This is why professionally produced books are almost always better than amateur books. I spent a fair amount of time as a rewrite editor for other publishers, and there can be a huge difference between what the author submits and what the publisher publishes. I also spent some time as a developmental editor, where I drew up outlines for authors with subject expertise and little or no writing experience, taught them how to write, and taught them how the publishing process works.
But none of these people will work for free. I hang out on micropress and self-publisher e-lists. Believe me, many of them would absolutely love to have free services, but whenever anyone asks for any substantial free work (and some do), well, it doesn’t go anywhere. There is never going to be a system where an author has numerous friends who gather round and collective provide all these services without charge. If they actually have professional expertise in these areas, they have work to do that pays them and they need the money.
Google scanned a huge number of books that were not only copyrighted but in print. (Including, apparently, mine.) I am failing to see how this was a huge social problem that Google had to massively violate US and international copyright law to solve. I can, however, readily see that Google wanted to become the dominant US publishing wholesaler and retailer in one stroke, and they felt that scanning millions of books and then threatening to sell them unless the publishers cut a deal with Google to allow such sales, was the way to take over the industry.
I will also point out that Google could easily have set up a huge bookstore without violating any copyrights. US wholesalers such as Ingram and Baker & Taylor will sell to any retailer who sets up an account with them. All Google has to do to sell in-print books (print, audio, and e-books) is to place orders with Ingram and/or B & T. Just like Amazon does. Amazon also has a program called “Advantage” where publishers too small to be accepted by Ingram can sell directly to Amazon.
As for the so-called orphan works, there is no indication that Google checked the copyright status or ownership of anything before scanning it. And, most of these books (all published after 1923 in the US) are available in libraries, and on the used book market, including large meta-book-search engines and venues like Amazon Marketplace and eBay. I am a collector of rare books in my field. I sometimes have trouble finding books published in the 19th century and earlier, but finding ones published after 1923 usually proves to be pretty quick and easy. And that’s buying them, which I usually prefer to do. But my local libraries will ILL just about anything for me for a small fee.
If someone does not want a used book enough to bother to ILL it or to run a search on the net, they probably won’t spend the time to read it anyway.