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Old 07-02-2009, 05:39 PM   #1
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Kindle Deleted Ayn Rand Content

Over on the Kindle forum at Amazon, I found the following post:

If true -- I find it rather chilling and "big-brother-ish"...

Quote:
Amazon owes me a full explanation for deleting, in the dark of night and without prior notice or permission, four titles from my Kindle. Atlas Shrugged, Virtue Of Selfishness, The Fountainhead and Night of January 16th, all by Ayn Rand.

Now that the Company has demonstrated that it not only has the capability, but believes it has the *right*, to delete content from our Kindles at any time at its discretion, Amazon owes Kindle owners a detailed policy statement. I would like to know whether Amazon will set any limits on future use of this blunt instrument, and our rights if we believe the Company has crossed the line.

If Amazon insists on retaining wide discretion, I call for the immediate appointment of (at least a pseudo-independent) Ombudsman to represent the interests of Kindle users going forward.

A reasonable solution for purchasers -- if Amazon genuinely made an error and illegally published and distributed Ayn Rand works in violation of copyrights -- would have been for the Company to purchase, on its own nickle, hard copies of each of the withdrawn works, and shipped them to affected users ASAP Amazon Prime.

I'd have accepted that, together with a written explanation and apology.

What seems to keep happening with the Kindle line is that Amazon Legal panics, and users get the shaft. It happened with TTS, and now it appears to have happened with Ayn Rand content -- regarding which the Company may now fear high-dollar value copyright infringement litigation.

Again, we don't know from any authoritative source that these were unauthorized works -- Amazon said only that there were "problems" with the works. On that basis, or perhaps on no basis at all, the Company has asserted it has the right to withdraw from our Kindles any content it wishes, at any time, for a simple return of fees.

Think about that!
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Old 07-02-2009, 05:42 PM   #2
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I believe Desertgrandma posted somewhere that the books not authorized (based on an email received from Amazon) and had to be pulled with full refunds for those who purchased them.

Edit: I'm surprised that not everyone received a notice about the books being pulled.

Quote:
A reasonable solution for purchasers -- if Amazon genuinely made an error and illegally published and distributed Ayn Rand works in violation of copyrights -- would have been for the Company to purchase, on its own nickle, hard copies of each of the withdrawn works, and shipped them to affected users ASAP Amazon Prime.
That's just silly. A refund is fair buy sending everyone a more expensive paper book is not.

Last edited by daffy4u; 07-02-2009 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 07-02-2009, 05:45 PM   #3
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Looks like I should have researched this more... my knee hurts from jerking so hard...
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:05 PM   #4
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Long ago I purchased bootleg copies of 2 Harry Potter books that were sneaked onto Amazon - I eventually got a refund - but they are still on my Kindle. Even after having Whispernet on. (Don't tell anyone!)
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:06 PM   #5
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Whatever the reason, the idea that they both can and WILL reach into your Kindle and control the content is pretty chilling.

Just one more reason I'm happy with my Sony.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:08 PM   #6
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Its easy to get sucked in on some posts. Heres the letter I got. As soon as they were notified the copies were illegal, they took action. I see nothing wrong with that.

Actual letter
This is a copy of the letter received 4 hours after the notice of refunds.........

Hello,

We recently discovered a problem with a Kindle book that you have purchased. We have processed a refund to the payment method used to purchase "Virtue of Selfishness" by Ayn Rand. The next time the wireless is activated on your device "Virtue of Selfishness" will be removed. If you are not in a wireless coverage area, please connect your device to a computer using your USB cable and delete the file from the documents folder.

We apologize for any inconvenience the removal of this title may cause.

Thank you for choosing Amazon Kindle.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
That's just silly. A refund is fair buy sending everyone a more expensive paper book is not.
Sending everyone a paper book is indeed not fair. However, a refund is not necessarily a fair business practice... do you think that if you buy a pair of shoes on sale, it's okay for the store to send someone to your house to remove them if they were accidentally marked down to that price, and refund your money?

Once you bought it, it's yours; the seller doesn't have the right to demand a return because they sold it by mistake. Fairly soon, copyright law and DMCA/Safe Harbor laws are going to crash hard into consumer protection laws.

(Someone's going to compare it to "selling stolen goods." But copyright law doesn't work like that. Amazon could be sued for distributing materials in violation of copyright... but that suit doesn't immediately criminalize the purchasers. Each of them would have to be sued/prosecuted separately, because it's up to the copyright owner to decide, in each case, if it's worth filing over. The state doesn't prosecute copyright infringement; they're civil cases, not crimes. Amazon could be guilty of distributing copyrighted material without permission, that all of the receivers were permitted to acquire.)

I do hope some people had the sense to immediately move the books from their Kindles to their PCs, and convert them to another format.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by khalleron View Post
Whatever the reason, the idea that they both can and WILL reach into your Kindle and control the content is pretty chilling.

Just one more reason I'm happy with my Sony.
Well, you could look at it as Amazon making sure that the authors or their estates get the monies that are due them for their work. This, to me, makes publishers more comfortable working with Amazon because they know Amazon will quickly correct an error.

My complaint would be that they should find a way to screen book listings better so that this type of thing doesn't happen in the future.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:21 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
Sending everyone a paper book is indeed not fair. However, a refund is not necessarily a fair business practice... do you think that if you buy a pair of shoes on sale, it's okay for the store to send someone to your house to remove them if they were accidentally marked down to that price, and refund your money?
The shoe thing is not a realistic scenario. Selling stolen property and mis-marked sale property are two different things. With mis-marked property, the store is just going to be out of luck. With stolen property, the store might take from you but the police might.

If you think a refund is not enough (vs. fair) maybe a refund and half or something similar would work.

Quote:
Once you bought it, it's yours; the seller doesn't have the right to demand a return because they sold it by mistake.
Not with Kindle books. People forget that we do not *own* Kindle books. They are very long term leases.
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Old 07-02-2009, 06:28 PM   #10
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I don't have a problem with amazon sending out the letter and advising everyone that the book was sold improperly and they should delete it to abide by the law.

However, I have a big problem with Amazon being able to just wirelessly yank a book out of my reader, with or without notice. You really want Amazon tracking every book you put on your reader? I would not want anyone to just be able to log on to their computer and look and see exactly what I am reading without having to ask my permission. Not Cool!!

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Old 07-02-2009, 06:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daffy4u View Post
The shoe thing is not a realistic scenario. Selling stolen property and mis-marked sale property are two different things. With mis-marked property, the store is just going to be out of luck. With stolen property, the store might take from you but the police might.
But they weren't selling "stolen property." They making unauthorized copies. They were inaccurately marked "available for sale," but they didn't belong to someone else who lost access to them when they were sold.

Intellectual property is not treated like physical property. There are some very important legal differences--theft is a crime. Unauthorized copies fall under civil law; the state doesn't prosecute them.

Quote:
Not with Kindle books. People forget that we do not *own* Kindle books. They are very long term leases.
If there's no return terms (and "whenever we feel like it" is not a legal set of return terms), it's a sale, regardless of what the seller wants to believe.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:10 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Elfwreck View Post
But they weren't selling "stolen property." They making unauthorized copies. They were inaccurately marked "available for sale," but they didn't belong to someone else who lost access to them when they were sold.
They were selling a product they were not authorized to sell. When they became aware of it, they took steps to rectify by removing the copies and refunding the money.

Quote:
Intellectual property is not treated like physical property. There are some very important legal differences--theft is a crime. Unauthorized copies fall under civil law; the state doesn't prosecute them.
Once upon a time I worked in licensing for Warner Bros. We had attorneys who did nothing but go after companies who used WB intellectual properties without a license. Be it making products for sale to the public or using an image of one of properties to advertise their business (even preschools ), if the lawyers found out about it, someone was going to get a Cease and Desist order or worse.

Quote:
If there's no return terms (and "whenever we feel like it" is not a legal set of return terms), it's a sale, regardless of what the seller wants to believe.
This was not a case of "whenever we feel like it". As to it being sale, legitimate or not, that is for the law to decide. I don't think it will get that far because Amazon made a good faith effort to remedy the situation.

As I stated in another post in this thread, I'm surprised that each affected buyer did not receive notice of what was going on because that was wrong. Amazon should/must take steps to keep this kind of thing from happening again.

Beyond that, we are just going to have to agree to disagree.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:42 PM   #13
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Amazon tracks every single thing you do on their site. Every Kindle book, all of your "last read" spots, every bookmark, every note is stored on their servers. It's critical to syncing that information across multiple devices.

Meanwhile, every paper book or DVD or garden implement you browse or buy or add to your Wish List, it all gets tracked. And I'm sure they data mine the living crap out of all of it.

I can understand how you may not like it; if that's the case, then you shouldn't patronize Amazon. Perfectly reasonable.

Sony is not exactly a paragon of customer data and privacy protection either, though. It wasn't that long ago that Sony literally installed a rootkit on your computer when you played a CD that was published by Sony BMG. So I wouldn't be too shocked if Sony added a similar capability to their software at some point....


Separately, it appears that some Ayn Rand books are in the public domain, others are not. Chances are the screener made an error, and they didn't catch it for a few days. I concur that better screening is obviously beneficial, but I think the comments speculating that Amazon puts no effort into verifying a copyright claim (by the original commenter) is either slightly absurd or disingenuous. I don't see what "authoritative source" he's waiting to weigh in -- since it's most likely the copyright holder who complained in the first place.
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Old 07-02-2009, 07:51 PM   #14
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Not having Whispernet is starting to sound like a feature to me.
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Old 07-02-2009, 08:14 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kali Yuga View Post
it appears that some Ayn Rand books are in the public domain, others are not. Chances are the screener made an error, and they didn't catch it for a few days.
In which case Amazon should be held liable for any damages done to the publishers and heirs of the works in dispute. That does not give them the right to log onto their customers private property and delete any files.

Just because I bought a computer (which I have) from Amazon, does that give them license to remote into it and delete any files they want? I think not!

The analogy would be if Amazon photocopied a protected book, and sold copies of it. Could they then come to my house without my permission and retrieve the book so that they would not have to pay damages to the original publisher? Just because they notified me that they were going to do it, they still can’t break into my house or my computer or my Kindle or anything else of mine.
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