Sunday, July 19, 2009

When Is A Book You Buy Not Really Yours?

Do you have a Kindle? (That's Amazon's portable e-book reader in case you don't know) Have you bought any books for it from Amazon's online store? Then you might want to fire up the ol' Kindle and make sure your titles are still there.

According to the Guardian, a number of Kindle owners have had a nasty surprise - Amazon has remotely deleted titles from their Kindles, titles they bought from Amazon's own store (though Amazon did refund the cost of the e-books). The reason apparently stems from a dispute over distribution rights; that Amazon did not have permission to sell some of the titles.

But Kindle users are crying foul, saying they bought the titles in good faith, and many are creeped out by the Big Brother aspect of the whole affair - that Amazon is snooping around on their personal property to see what books are loaded on their Kindles. And for the ironic kicker, one of the titles involved was George Orwell's 1984, the book that added 'Big Brother' to the English lexicon in the first place.

I can understand a dispute over rights and distribution and Amazon's decision to remove certain titles from their online store, that's all pretty standard stuff. But to remotely go onto user's private systems and delete content without their permission (even if you then give them their money back) is an unjustifiable invasion of people's privacy and property rights. And it certainly makes me less likely to use Amazon in the future.
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