Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Amazon: We Won’t Delete Your Kindle Books Unless We Need to Delete Your Books

georgeorwell1984jpgAfter Amazon got caught deleting customers’ George Orwell novels from their Kindles this summer, the e-commerce giant apologized and promised never to do it again.

Except not really: Amazon actually said it wouldn’t yank books from Kindles again “in these circumstances.”

At the time, I thought that sounded like a lawyerly loophole designed to give Amazon (AMZN) some flexibility in the event that it did indeed want to remove things you bought from your e-reader. Now Amazon has removed some of that wiggle room–and not surprisingly, it’s doing so at the behest of its lawyers.

Amazon has reached a proposed settlement with a high school student who sued after his copy of “1984” disappeared (really). Part of the arrangement: A much more detailed set of rules regarding disappearing books. Here they are, via TechFlash:

Amazon will not remotely delete or modify such Works from Devices purchased and being used in the United States unless (a) the user consents to such deletion or modification; (b) the user requests a refund for the Work or otherwise fails to pay for the Work (e.g., if a credit or debit card issuer declines to remit payment); (c) a judicial or regulatory order requires such deletion or modification; or (d) deletion or modification is reasonably necessary to protect the consumer or the operation of a Device or network through which the Device communicates (e.g., to remove harmful code embedded within a copy of a Work downloaded to a Device).

That’s more like, it, right? True, if you have a real case of Orwellian paranoia, you could argue that Amazon still has the right to take your stuff from your device for any reason, while arguing that it’s a network “protection” issue, etc. But if you’re really that worried about Jeff Bezos’s grasp, you probably don’t want to buy a connected device from him, period.

The entire settlement is embedded below.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik