Question: does reprinting and republication in a new format give the publisher rights to control the use of a public domain work?

Answer: not under current copyright law!

But Google would like it to. In their Google Book Search, they’ve included text placing restrictions on use of the books which they’re making available. It’s not necessarily legal: but what is written can frequently be accepted as law by any user without knowledge of the laws surrounding copyright.

Philipp Lenssen is challenging this position. Good luck, Philip!