Why 2009 is a bit like 1984…

In case you missed this story from the New York Times, Amazon.com has apparently decided that even after you purchase two of their products, they have the ability to connect to your device and “take back” content.  In this case, Amazon realized that a seller of two books that they had sold digitally to Kindle owners did not own the rights to sell the books, and so they decided the best course of action was to stop selling them (fine). They then connected to the devices of individuals who are purchased copies previously and deleted them, providing them with a credit (not so fine).  Ironically one of the books in question was George Orwell’s 1984.

So the seller didn’t have the rights to sell the book, and Amazon is simply protecting the original copyright holder’s legal rights – sounds fair at first glance.  But what makes this a bit unusual is that the users in question had paid for and purchased two products from Amazon: a Kindle and an e-book.  Then, due mostly to Amazon’s poor diligence in vetting sellers on their own store, users had their legally obtained products removed from them.  It’s as if Barnes and Noble came into your house in the middle of the night, and took back a book you bought and the bookshelf it was on.  Is it any wonder that engineering types are nervous about DRM (digital rights management)?  The balance between the rights of users who have purchased content and the license rights of the creators of the content still feels wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *