Originally Posted by Piper_
I'm probably going to do a lot job explaining but my understanding is that someone put up a ebook copy of "1984" for sale at Amazon. Some people bought it before the rights- holder pitched a fit to Amazon that that seller had no rights to it.
So Amazon remotely deleted the copies from the Kindles it was on and that they could reach, then refunded the purchasers. I think they also have a gift certificate to the purchasers, but not sure when.
Huge outcry ensued, Amazon (Bezos himself, i think) apologized, and said it (remotely removing an ebook from akindle without user permission) should not have been done, and promised to take measures to ensure it never would be done again.
It was more complicated than that. The book in question (and at least one other Orwell book) are in the public domain in some countries, but not in the US. They were uploaded to Amazon by a company in a country where it was in the public domain, they say set up to sell in their own country only. (Amazon hasn't really disputed that claim, but they haven't owned up to a technical glitch either. So far as I know.) The US rights holder sent an infringement notice, Amazon (rightly, at that point, since they had the ability) deleted it from devices.
The reasons it was such a big deal were that 1) they did so without any notice or explanation until the internet exploded on them, and 2) among the marketing claims when they first introducted the Kindle was that they couldn't
do so, and their terms of service made no allowance for doing so under any
circumstances. They amended their terms of service, and promised not to do it ever, ever again unless they were ordered to by a court, and spent some time wiping egg off their faces.
It left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths (including me - this was one of the reasons I bought a nook instead of a Kindle).