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Jeff Bezos Offers Apology For Erasing 1984 437

Posted by timothy
from the always-been-sorry-about-erasing-1984 dept.
levicivita writes "From the down-but-not-out NYT comes an article (warning: login may be required) about user backlash against Kindle's embedded DRM: 'Last week, Jeffrey P. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon, offered an apparently heartfelt and anguished mea culpa to customers whose digital editions of George Orwell's "1984" were remotely deleted from their Kindle reading devices. Though copies of the books were sold by a bookseller that did not have legal rights to the novel, Mr. Bezos wrote on a company forum that Amazon's "'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles."' Bezos's post is here."
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Jeff Bezos Offers Apology For Erasing 1984

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  • Re:Three Words (Score:2, Informative)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:25AM (#28835513) Journal

    used book store

    Shouldn't that be two words? Used bookstore.

  • by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@nosPaM.praecantator.com> on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:25AM (#28835515) Homepage

    1984 declared non-purchase.

    Read is thoughtcrime.

  • Re:Talk is cheap (Score:4, Informative)

    by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:40AM (#28835607)

    You're missing the point: the reason they deleted them in the first place was because the seller did not have the rights to the novel. I agree that making a snap judgment to erase them was not the right move, but until they work out some other arrangement, simply "giving the books back" is not an option.

  • Re:Three Words (Score:3, Informative)

    by c-reus (852386) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:41AM (#28835627) Homepage
    It's (used book) store, not used (book store). Therefore "used book store" is correct Brackets used for grouping.
  • by ErikZ (55491) * on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:46AM (#28835673)

    I never read with my wireless on. It's always off until I'm looking for a book, then I turn it on, go shopping, download, turn it off.

    With the wireless on, the Kindle only can stay powered for days instead of weeks.

  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:49AM (#28835691) Homepage Journal

    they did already

    http://boingboing.net/2009/07/20/amazons-orwellian-de.html [boingboing.net]

    it was the works of orwell that were removed.
    not just one book

  • by copponex (13876) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:53AM (#28835731) Homepage

    Slightly offtopic, but many people don't know Orwell's original introduction to the Animal Farm was censored because it was anti-Soviet. It's a telling sign of how easy it is to get the entire media to wholly invest in obvious lies at the order of government and business interests. The enemy of my enemy...

    The servility with which the greater part of the English intelligentsia have swallowed and repeated Russian propaganda from 1941 onwards would be quite astounding if it were not that they have behaved similarly on several earlier occasions. On one controversial issue after another the Russian viewpoint has been accepted without examination and then publicized with complete disregard to historical truth or intellectual decency. To name only one instance, the BBC celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Red Army without mentioning Trotsky. This was about as accurate as commemorating the battle of Trafalgar without mentioning Nelson, but it evoked no protest from the English intelligentsia. In the internal struggles in the various occupied countries, the British press has in almost all cases sided with the faction favoured by the Russians and libelled the opposing faction, sometimes suppressing material evidence in order to do so.

    http://home.iprimus.com.au/korob/Orwell.html [iprimus.com.au]

  • by jonbryce (703250) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:17AM (#28835985) Homepage

    In any case, you can get a free copy of 1984 and Animal Farm without any DRM from Gutenberg Australia
    http://gutenberg.net.au/plusfifty-n-z.html#orwell [gutenberg.net.au]

    You won't break any Australian laws by downloading it, but the laws where you are may be different.

  • by demonlapin (527802) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:26AM (#28836095) Homepage Journal
    This was clearly the wrong action in this case, but it's worth remembering why they built this capability in the first place: so people can get refunds if they one-click the wrong book. That's something that they can't do without a remote-deletion capability.

    BTW, you know, you don't have to leave the wireless on. And it reads unencrypted Mobipocket books with ease. And there's the Magic Catalog of Project Gutenberg E-books [freekindlebooks.org] that will allow you to download any Gutenberg ebook directly to your kindle, free, via the wireless web interface.

    Kindle books can be bought anonymously by using a throwaway email account with gift certificates (available from any Western Union location aka your nearest gas station, or via those Coinstar coin-counting machines, which don't charge a percentage if you get a gift card), and most of them can have their DRM stripped with ease (mobidedrm is what you're looking for; it's a painful process that works for the Kindle, when you're Googling.)
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:37AM (#28836233) Homepage Journal
    ... yes, designed to allow refunds. Which they do.

    As I said upthread, they should have given all of these people a legit copy of the book at their own expense when they realized what happened, but it's entirely possible that this was an unforeseen consequence of the system. Personally, I'd rather it just didn't allow refunds, and told you to be careful what you bought, but I'm not Amazon.
  • by demonlapin (527802) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:39AM (#28836261) Homepage Journal

    Otherwise, why put the functionality in there?

    Refunds if you buy the wrong book. They do offer them.

  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:45AM (#28836331) Homepage

    I'm pretty sure I paid more than the fair market value for everything covered by DRM that I've ever "owned"

  • by Wisconsingod (995241) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:15AM (#28836699) Journal
    Directly from the Amazon/Kindle Terms of Service (TOS) [amazon.com]
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=200144530 [amazon.com]

    Use of Digital Content. Upon your payment of the applicable fees set by Amazon, Amazon grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times, solely on the Device or as authorized by Amazon as part of the Service and solely for your personal, non-commercial use. Digital Content will be deemed licensed to you by Amazon under this Agreement unless otherwise expressly provided by Amazon.

    I guess that since they returned the money, the assumed a defacto reverse logic to the terms of their agreement. How many times in logic courses was it emphasized that:
    if a then b
    does not necessarily mean
    if b then a
    I guess they missed that lesson

    However... further down in the TOS they state (as will be an argument for their defense):

    No Illegal Use and Reservation of Rights. You may not use the Device, the Service or the Digital Content for any illegal purpose. You acknowledge that the sale of the Device to you does not transfer to you title to or ownership of any intellectual property rights of Amazon or its suppliers. All of the Software is licensed, not sold, and such license is non-exclusive.

    and to be clear, they define software as

    4. Software: Definitions. The following terms apply to the Device and to (a) all software (and the media on which such software is distributed) of Amazon or third parties that is pre-installed on the Device at time of purchase or that Amazon provides as updates/upgrades to the pre-installed software (collectively, the "Device Software"), unless you agree to other terms as part of an update/upgrade process; and (b) any printed, on-line or other electronic documentation for such software (the "Documentation"). As used in this Agreement, "Software" means, collectively, the Device Software and Documentation.

    Therefore the content (the book) is not defined as software, and therefore the content, in their own words, is OWNED not licensed.

    For those who had this book removed, you have been stolen from and should press charges. If someone breaks into your house, takes your PS3, and leaves $400 cash where it was, does that mean they are not stealing?

  • by Marcika (1003625) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:34AM (#28836961)

    This gets more absurd (and ironic).

    You can read the book free this web site. http://www.george-orwell.org/1984 [george-orwell.org]

    Pssst! Only people from Oceania are allowed to read it... If you read it as an Eurasian, you have committed thought crime and must purge it from your brain!

    (This is because Australia had a Life+50 copyright policy until 2004, so Orwell, Woolfe, Lovecraft and others are in the public domain. No longer, alas -- the US government have "convinced" them to adapt Life+70...)

  • by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:35AM (#28836965)

    How does that prevent them from deleting things the next time you go shopping?

    this is going to hurt the feelings of the blue ray fans, but I don't care.

    do you guys realize that each time you open a bd disk, it scans your hardware to see if you have 'non compliant' parts and it could, if it wants (its in the specs) disable your hardware.

    each time you insert a disc, it does this. you cannot say no, you cannot opt out (unless you rip with anydvd).

    people ask me when I'll get a bd system. never. its untrustable and runs black-hat code that none of us can easily examine or even refuse to run.

    this is no different than the amazon case. you don't want surprises when you connect to the net or when you buy things or when you insert media to play.

    and while all your bd's may be ok right now, each new one you buy has new revoke-lists in it. you are PAYING to have them police you and possibly disable you.

    nice, huh?

    AVOID BLUE RAY. WAY too full of extremely unfriendly drm.

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