2009-07-18 Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle

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An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. "When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers' devices, and refunded customers," he said.

Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. "We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances," Mr. Herdener said.

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An authorized digital edition of 1984 from its American publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, was still available on the Kindle store Friday night, but there was no such version of Animal Farm.

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While the copyright on 1984 will not expire until 2044 in the United States, it has already expired in other countries, including Canada, Australia and Russia. Web sites in those countries offer digital copies of the book free to all comers.

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"It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon," said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. "As a Kindle owner, I'm frustrated. I can't lend people books and I can't sell books that I've already read, and now it turns out that I can't even count on still having my books tomorrow."

Justin Gawronski, a 17-year-old from the Detroit area, was reading 1984 on his Kindle for a summer assignment and lost all his notes and annotations when the file vanished. "They didn't just take a book back, they stole my work," he said.

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“In a move that angered customers an“In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of [Animal Farm and 1984] from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.”ces of readers who had bought them.” +
Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle +
Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle +
July 18, 2009 +
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