My understanding is that a SP server license is required if any of the SP web services are installed, regardless of whether is a web front end or any other service. However, since the uplevel version of search is available in Foundation now, could that be used to scale out some part of the search web services without needing to add server licenses?

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Search in SharePoint Foundation is restricted to be installed on one server, if you need to scale out, you need to go with Server License.

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