Amazon deleted Kindle copies of Orwell's 1984

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  1. Teresa McGurk profile image60
    Teresa McGurkposted 13 years ago

    I know this is old news, and if it has already been discussed in the forums I apologize; but did y'all hear that Amazon, at the behest of a publisher, DELETED downloaded copies of Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm that folk had bought and paid for?  I was going to put a Kindle on my wish list -- not now, though. 

    The idea that people can delete your property (they credited everyone's accounts with the purchase price, of course) is bad enough.  Of course, what was so ironic was that it was 1984 that was deleted.  Winston Smith is turning in his fictional grave.

  2. rosariomontenegro profile image68
    rosariomontenegroposted 13 years ago

    Teresa, it sounds like something from your Later Than You Think story too, this deletion/input of information by higher/collective power.

    But look what I found:

    "Two Kindle users – one of them a high school student – have filed a class-action lawsuit against Amazon after the company remotely deleted copies of George Orwell's "1984" from their e-readers.

    Justin Gawronski, a teenager from Michigan, and Antoine Bruguier of California, sued the online retailer in Seattle District Court on Thursday for breach of contract, intentional interference with their belongings, as well as violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and the Washington Consumer Protection Act."

    Now, it would be interesting to see what happens here, it might go up to Supreme Court, who knows?

  3. Teresa McGurk profile image60
    Teresa McGurkposted 13 years ago

    I think it should.  I don't think that anyone has the right to make your possessions disappear after you have legally bought them, whether they refund the money or not!

  4. darkside profile image70
    darksideposted 13 years ago

    Amazon made a mistake. It should never have happened, but it did. Bezos, the Amazon CEO, has apologised.

    I wonder though, why would a person feel the need to sue over something that in the grand scheme of things, is so insignificant?

    Did owning an electronic version of the book mean that much to them? Will they cease to be able to function as a human being because it's been removed (and also the monetary value refunded)? Will there be deep emotional or mental scarring from it happening?

    Or do they see an excellent chance of making some money by successfully suing?

    1. ledefensetech profile image69
      ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      It doesn't matter.  When you buy something it becomes your property and you have the right to do with it  as you wish.  To allow anything else opens the door to losing all of your property.  If you're not free to own your possessions, you're nothing better than a slave.  So yes, it is that important.

      1. darkside profile image70
        darksideposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I'm not saying I'd be impressed by it happening to me, but having an electronic ebook removed from a proprietary system and being refunded is the same as slavery?


        The level of indignation should stop short of being ridiculous.

        Amazon should have refunded twice the value of the book with sincere apologies for a stuff up that happened for whatever reason it happened.

        Save the law suits, civil unrest and rioting for the things in life that really matter.

        1. Teresa McGurk profile image60
          Teresa McGurkposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          No, I really don't think that the implications should be so lightly dismissed.  No one has the right to enter your home without your knowledge or consent and remove anything from it.

          1. darkside profile image70
            darksideposted 13 years agoin reply to this

            What you're saying is far more reasonable than comparing what's happened to slavery and I think it would be a good argument for the applicants lawyer to put forward.

            If I were speaking on behalf of the defendant I'd say (after doing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of legal research) that it doesn't have the intent of home invasion or simple thievery. That it's more like my client having our courier (not the postal service) deliver the package to the mailbox and when getting back to the shop they've realised that they weren't allowed to sell and deliver that item. Unless they fix the problem they face legal action from the manufacturer of that item. So they send out the same courier to retrieve the package, leaving a notice of credit on the persons account.

            Now you may not be happy with that scenario either, but it could be the argument that sees Amazon successfully defend the legal actions against them.

            Speculation aside, it will be an interesting case to follow.

        2. ledefensetech profile image69
          ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

          You may not consider it importsant, but I remember my grandfather telling me about the debates surrounding the Social Security Act.  Politicians of the times swore on their souls that the SSN would never be used as a personal identifier.  Fast forward 60 years and look where we are today.  Not so ridiculous now is it?  Check out that column I posted there is, I  think, a history of publishing from the time of Gutenberg.  You might find the acts of the Scriveners Guild interesting.

    2. sunforged profile image73
      sunforgedposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      It certainly is!

      What kind of precedent does it make when a corporation can reach into your private property and take away that which has been sold, w/o damages, explanation, warning or request.

      Perhaps, I am a college student who is using 1984 on a important paper, I like the portability of having multiple books in one small formatted device. I go somewhere remote to be in peace and write my paper, its an important paper.

      I turn on my reader...bam my book has been stolen from me!
      I fail my paper, lose my scholarship am forced out of school.

      2 years later, im selling my body in Grand Central for nickels.

      absurd!, sure ....but should Amazon being paying HUGE damages, yes, if only to ensure that they are very very careful about ever trying anything so foolish again. You never know why someone has made that purchase

      The apology I ever want to hear from a CEO has his signature on it and clears in 3-5 business days.

      It would be a terrible precedent if they were not forced to pay damages for the action for lost opportunity costs and theft.

      I might have a little more flexibility in the manner if it was a leaked addition of some modern writers work, their livelihood.
      (even then I think the onus would be on amazon to pay out the rights holder until they didnt have an issue with the sale)

      But Orwell has been dead almost 60 years..!

  5. profile image0
    pgrundyposted 13 years ago

    i've heard that Kindle is not so hot for writers either. RIght now I'm having one of those senior moments but it has to do with distribution rights. I'll have to look it up again, I can't remember what the flap is.

    Just what writers need though--a way to make less money. sad

  6. rosariomontenegro profile image68
    rosariomontenegroposted 13 years ago


    Even if they had ten different editions of the book, along with an original, signed by the author copy, it's a matter of principle.

    IMHO it is important to fight for such matter.

  7. Uninvited Writer profile image78
    Uninvited Writerposted 13 years ago

    I admit it freaked me out. I understand them not having the right to publish it...of course, you'd have thought that would have been resolved before they went on sale...but I don't like the fact they can go into your electronic device and delete something.

    1. ledefensetech profile image69
      ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      That's the end result of unrestricted copyright.  You have to thank the legions of the Mouse for that one.

  8. profile image0
    pgrundyposted 13 years ago

    Electronic media are opening these possibilities though and reviewing questions of ownership. A book is a physical thing. You take it home it's yours. An electronic copy of a book is more ephemeral. I'm not saying it's cool that Amazon deleted it, I'm just saying it's part of a bigger issue regarding the written word (and images) transmitted electronically.

    The last big Writer's strike was over payment for use of their work on the internet.

    These emerging issues would make a good hub.

    1. ledefensetech profile image69
      ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this … ig_Brother

      Eric Flint is a great writer and an awesome historian.  He has written extensively on the subject of copyright, DRM, etc. for several years now.  I like his stuff even though his is a hard core unionist and socialist.  So take that for what it's worth.

      1. profile image0
        pgrundyposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks ltd, I'll check it out.

        I think it's all interesting just because it's so new and it puts these issues of ownership in play in a new way.

        Also though, my livelihood depends on how it all shakes out so that makes it more interesting to me. Strangely it doesn't make me lean one way or the other yet--it's all very slippery so I'm just watching it so far. I do work where I sell all rights and work where I retain all or most rights.

        I do think the internet (at least so far) is not really creating any great writers the way pulp fiction did though. Usually new media will give us some really good writers along with it but all I see with the net is lots of folks hawking griddles, diet plans, and shoes.

    2. Teresa McGurk profile image60
      Teresa McGurkposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      Write it! You're great at putting all the information together. I can't get over the fact that a machine can delete someone's property.

  9. Uninvited Writer profile image78
    Uninvited Writerposted 13 years ago

    Well, I believe in copyright but there are limitations like what AP is trying to do...

    But it does bug the crap out of me when there are some songs I can't play on my ipod and some that I can only play on my ipod. I could live without that sort of control.

  10. ledefensetech profile image69
    ledefensetechposted 13 years ago

    I think the history of printing is part of that column if not let me know and I'll find it.  It is very interesting stuff.  I loved it because it was about a subject near and dear to my heart, history, but it also deals with censorship and the limiting of ideas.  I'm interested to see what you think.

  11. ledefensetech profile image69
    ledefensetechposted 13 years ago

    First thing we do, shoot all the lawyers.  It's interesting to see how clinical and inhuman the legalistic mindset has become over the years.

    1. darkside profile image70
      darksideposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      We have some common ground!

      Unfortunately there are instances where they're needed to sort out disputes. But there has been far too many cases where the only winners are the lawyers.

      1. ledefensetech profile image69
        ledefensetechposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        I'd rather see something like an arbiter whose goal is not a client, but a meeting of the minds.  That would take the confrontation out of court battles and get them focused on agreement.

  12. Ivorwen profile image67
    Ivorwenposted 13 years ago

    It makes me want to stick with the 'copy in hand' for any book that I think I will read more than once, or would like for historical purposes.  That it is such a politically charged book that got pulled seems really fishy.  Of course, it is not the first time that book has had publication problems...

    1. Uninvited Writer profile image78
      Uninvited Writerposted 13 years agoin reply to this

      But it was also George Orwell's Animal Farm that was pulled too.  It had to do with the author, not the topic smile

      1. Ivorwen profile image67
        Ivorwenposted 13 years agoin reply to this

        Haven't booth been banned in the past?  I understand where Amazon is coming from.  The uproar seems to be because of the type of book it was...  I doubt anyone would sue over a New York Times Best Sellers, but then I could be wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time.  hmm


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