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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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  • by woutersimons_com (1602459) * on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:02AM (#28835359) Homepage

    Amazon has refunded their customers according to the article, but if I was halfway through a book and it got deleted from my device I would be very annoyed. To me it seems that the better solution would be for Amazon to arrange the correct rights from the copyright holder and arrange some form of deal to make sure that those who have a copy of the book on their Kindle can continue to use it or receive a new copy with the proper rights and at no cost. In the end, the material was offered through their service and they do have responsibility to their customers, even if it is not illegal for them to use this solution.

    The apology posted from Mr. Bezos sounds heartfelt indeed. I wonder how this will be handled in future incidents like this one. Unfortunately, in the Netherlands we do not have access to the Kindle. But even with the risks of allowing Amazon to retain control to remotely delete items you have purchased I would definitely be a customer for the device. I suppose that with products like these you have to decide whether you trust a supplier or not.

    • by zeromorph (1009305) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:34AM (#28835567)

      For me, the "apology" doesn't sound heartfelt at all. It is easily written, doesn't cost much and makes good PR. It may be a smart and cheap move for the CEO, but it doesn't impress me. However, using the word solution - even in quotation marks - is impudent. One could call it "intrusion" or "encroachment" - maybe - but dispossessing people of something they paid for, because you made a mistake is not even near something you could call a "solution".

      I know why I never wanted this DRM-ridden Kindle, now even more than before, but if something like this would happen to me I would be really really pissed.

      When will they ever learn that DRM just means defective by design?

      • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:04AM (#28836557) Journal

        >>>For me, the "apology" doesn't sound heartfelt at all.

        Amazon's been going downhill rapidly. The whole "we can erase your books" philosophy is why I never bought a Kindle. I like to keep my books indefinitely, read them at least once, and then resell them to somebody else. A Kindle doesn't let you do the first or the last.

        Of course the other possibility is that I'm biased against amazon. I was a seller on amazon for three years - nothing special - just selling my old books, games, or videos. I had a 100% rating until I made a mistake and violated a rule by selling a Zenith DTV Converter box (for some reason this is not allowed). They suspended my account, I apologized, and then was reinstated. I was careful to obey the rules but they suspended my account again saying, "You issued a $200 refund which exceeds our new selling standards." Well yeah. A guy bought a $200 air conditioner, then he changed his mind, so I politely and happily refunded the money. That's what you're supposed to do.

        Long-story short they refused to listen and just kept saying refunding $200 is a lot of money an unacceptable. Now they are holding almost $500 of my money earned off previous sales, and won't return it to me. I can understand a temporary hold but almost half-a-year has passed.

        Amazon is rapidly following the path to destruction that Ebay followed last year when it alienated its sellers.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by mcgrew (92797)

      Once again we see big business showing nothing but disdain for their paying customers. When I was young, AT&T was the only company that acted like this, then the utility companies started, now all these companies act as if they had a monopoly.

      After this, anyone who would buy a kindle or any other DRM infested book reader should have his or her head examined.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LordLimecat (1103839)
        Is this why amazon offers DRM-free MP3s to its customers at lower prices than DRM-laden itunes (something like $0.75 per song on big albums)? Apparently knee-jerk business bashing earns +4 insightful these days; I suppose being a successful company and screwing up once in a while is the best way to earn hate on slashdot. Are you really comparing AT&T to Amazon?
        • by teg (97890)

          Is this why amazon offers DRM-free MP3s to its customers at lower prices than DRM-laden itunes (something like $0.75 per song on big albums)

          There is no DRM on the iTunes store either. The price seems about even too - although as Amazon isn't even available, it's irrelevant for me and I only did a quick search and compared some Michael Jackson albums featured by both rather prominently. I'm sure they both have a varying selection of cheaper albums.

    • by MRe_nl (306212) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:44AM (#28835653)

      The statement, from Amazon's Drew Herdener, reads:

              These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books...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....

      We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances.

      As highlighted by the WSJ, the case draws attention to an expectation gap between real books and their digital counterparts: the latter is simply a license to read the content on your device.

      • These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books...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. [...] We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers' devices in these circumstances.

        Those circumstances being when the books 1984 or Animal Farm are submitted improperly to our service.

      • by russotto (537200)

        As highlighted by the WSJ, the case draws attention to an expectation gap between real books and their digital counterparts: the latter is simply a license to read the content on your device.

        Or so DRM advocates would have you believe. Copyright law just doesn't read that way. A copy of the book existed on the users' device before Amazon removed it. Amazon destroyed those copies. It's more practical for them to do this than for them to burn customer copies of real books they sold, but it's no different i

    • 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 bkr1_2k (237627) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:09AM (#28835905)

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

        The problem is that they have the ability to do that in the first place.

        • by TheLink (130905) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:10AM (#28836639) Journal
          Having the ability is not the main problem.

          They may have the ability. But do they and should they have the legal right to do so?

          Hackers have all sorts of abilities. They have the right to break into their own computers and delete their own data. But it's illegal in most countries for them to do it to other people's computers without permission.

          So in this case:
          1) Are all the Kindles owned by Amazon?
          2) Is it reasonable to consider that the Kindle buyers have given Amazon the permission to do what they did?
          3) Was the content/data illegally sold by Amazon or by someone else?

          If Amazon was just providing a payment service like "Visa/Mastercard" and a shopping mall for shop owners to sell their stuff in, I don't see how that gives Amazon the right to stick their nose in other people's businesses and delete that content, just because it happens to be illegal. Go call the cops, or kickout the shop owners.

          It's a different thing if the customers wanted to return the book for a refund (because somehow due to a screw up the wrong book was downloaded), then Amazon provides a "goods return and refunding" service for the customers and the shopowners to _voluntarily_ use.

          I can hire a locksmith to go break into my house to return a book I took by mistake. But I'd be rather pissed off if the department store gets their guys over to do the same thing when I didn't ask them to.

          Leave the breaking, entering and confiscation to the cops. Then at least we only need to worry about and keep an eye over just one bunch of thugs.

          At the rate things go maybe in the future a General Genetic's franchisee might gene modify your wife, but then General Genetics sends thugs to "downgrade" her because they made a mistake. And go after your kids when they find out you had children - unauthorized reproduction of General Genetic's property.

          So if Amazon has stepped out of line, they need to be smacked for it. You cannot just "leave it to the market", leaving it to the market means those with the most money have the most votes.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          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 untrustab

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by firegarden7 (808626)
          I purchased 1984 on my Kindle back in March, and I always leave wireless turned off except for when I want to purchase another book. As ErikZ mentioned, it extends the battery life for weeks. I fully expected 1984 to be deleted from my Kindle once I turned wireless back on and purchased another book, but it's still there (I reopened it to make sure it was still readable as well), and I received a refund for the purchase as well. The book is also still there on my iPhone Kindle app. So maybe leaving your wir
    • by rolfwind (528248) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:55AM (#28835753)

      Amazon has refunded their customers according to the article, but if I was halfway through a book and it got deleted from my device I would be very annoyed. To me it seems that the better solution would be for Amazon to arrange the correct rights from the copyright holder and arrange some form of deal to make sure that those who have a copy of the book on their Kindle can continue to use it or receive a new copy with the proper rights and at no cost. In the end, the material was offered through their service and they do have responsibility to their customers, even if it is not illegal for them to use this solution.

      I would be beyond fucking annoyed -- I would call it what it fucking is: tresspassing. In U.S. Law - if someone ships you an item, on purpose or by accident, they can't demand it back (only unless a contract was signed beforehand hand and purchase doesnt fulfill it). It could be a thousand dollar ring, shipped to you by accident, doesn't matter. It's yours.

      Amazon shipped the item. You, as the user of the device, purchased it, with your consent, and it went on the device. And then when Amazon found out it shouldn't have done that, did they pay the consequences to the copyright holder? No, without notice, they trespassed on your device to steal it back.

      That's what it was. I don't care if it's covered by some unsigned EULA and just because it's on the digital world. The corporates made plenty sure that Congress covered their ass with computer laws. We as private citizens should have the same rights.

      This is hacking and trespassing in it's most basic fucking form.

      [quote]The apology posted from Mr. Bezos sounds heartfelt indeed.[/quote]
      If Gandhi had #1 product on Amazon get a slew of hundreds of 1 star ratings in days, a good 10% of the ratings that were already posted over months, killing sales, he too would be able to do some convincing crocodile tears.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

        I would be beyond fucking annoyed -- I would call it what it fucking is: tresspassing. In U.S. Law - if someone ships you an item, on purpose or by accident, they can't demand it back (only unless a contract was signed beforehand hand and purchase doesnt fulfill it). It could be a thousand dollar ring, shipped to you by accident, doesn't matter. It's yours.

        Coincidentally, Amazon has tried similar shenanigans in the past. A minor error on their website turned a DVD promotion of buy 1, get the next one 50% off to buy 1, get the next one free. They corrected the error on their website but still shipped orders up to three days later.

        A month or so goes by and they threatened everyone that received shipment with an ultimatum - return it or pay what amazon thinks you should have paid. They even went so far as to actually charge some people's credit cards for the

    • It would also have caused a lot fewer raised eyebrows. Can you see Mr. DRMClueless wonder:

      "What? THEY can erase books on MY reader?"

      His apology maybe sounded heartfelt. But I'm sure it was more to silence that voice in their customer's head telling them that their device ain't entirely theirs.

    • by blackest_k (761565) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:03AM (#28835841) Homepage Journal

      Your being too nice about it.

      Amazon has revealed by their actions that they have back doored the kindle, they are able to do what they wish with it and you can't do a thing about it.

      They have violated their customers privacy and made a mockery of the first principle of buying anything if you paid for it its yours not theirs.

      If it was a service that you bought then perhaps it would be almost acceptable , you would generally be able to terminate the contract if you didn't wish to continue.

      At the very least Amazon customers should be able to return the kindle and get a full refund on the kindle and the books they bought. Thats all kindle owners because the sale was a fraud and a complete breach of trust.
      Who knows just what has and can be transmitted from your kindle back to Amazon.

      Sincere apologies don't cut it, Amazon deserve to be sued in court and punitive damages awarded. The only reasonable action would have been for amazon to ask for users to delete the copies, like with any other product recall it is up to the customer to comply or not. Instead Amazon has tipped its hand by demonstrating the control they have over the kindles which are no longer the property of Amazon.

      I don't see how anyone can fail to see how outrageous Amazons actions are.

      The only issue is just what charges apply in a case like this because this is absolutely unheard of.

      What I can't believe is there is not one negative post to Jeff Bezos's apology you would almost think that someone was filtering any incoming posts.

      • Well, yeah, they're probably filtering, or full of fanboys. But there is one reason why they could have included this that's not evil - so they can give refunds if you click the wrong book. (Which they do.) Pulling the book from the store probably triggered this whole cascade.

        Nonetheless, I just remain amazed that they didn't put this out earlier, right on top of the news curve, along with giving every person involved a free copy of a legit rendition of the book(s) they had bought. It would not have be
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by proxima (165692)

          Nonetheless, I just remain amazed that they didn't put this out earlier, right on top of the news curve, along with giving every person involved a free copy of a legit rendition of the book(s) they had bought. It would not have been terribly expensive, and would have been incredible PR: yes, we screwed up, you already got your refund, here's the book for free anyway.

          A simpler solution would be to negotiate with the publishers. Perhaps not to have distribution rights in the future, but retroactive distribut

    • 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 dreemernj (859414)
        I wish I had modpoints. I found this post very useful. My first reaction to reading Bezos' apology, especially the part where he says this is out of line with Amazon's principles, was to wonder why the remote erasure ability is there at all. But if you have the ability to get a refund on your purchase and have them take the ebook back, that makes perfect sense. Thanks for posting that info.
    • 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?

  • the cat (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ionix5891 (1228718) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:05AM (#28835377)

    is out of the bag now Bezos

    i was interested in a DX but now ill just get a laptop

    this is yet another reason not to buy a kindle, how many other geeks out there feel same way now ?

    • Indeed. I will never, ever purchase a Kindle after they delete copies of the book. When I own a book, I want to own the thing, if not actually the copyright to the text inside.

    • No, it's a reason not to put DRM'ed store content on your Kindle, Sony Reader, iPod, or even laptop. The hardware is perfectly fine (even pleasant) for playing non-DRM media.
    • by wkk2 (808881)

      No more book burning when the political winds change. They can just reach out and books no longer exist. This is a good example for why DRM should be avoided.

  • by therufus (677843) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:05AM (#28835379)

    "'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles."

    You forgot ironic. The big brother connotations on this scandal makes the whole story somewhat funny even.

    • by tygerstripes (832644) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:16AM (#28835455)
      Double-plus-ironic.
    • 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 JohnHegarty (453016) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:06AM (#28835387) Homepage

    It would be 1984 they do this to. To quote Bart Simpson "The ironing is delicious".

  • Farenheit 451 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siddesu (698447) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:06AM (#28835389)

    Just got a lot cooler with a hot gadget like the Kindle.

  • Three Words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FudRucker (866063) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:07AM (#28835397)
    used book store
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      used book store

      Shouldn't that be two words? Used bookstore.

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Hey there, Dan Quayle! I didn't know you were posting under a pseudonym on /.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by c-reus (852386)
        It's (used book) store, not used (book store). Therefore "used book store" is correct Brackets used for grouping.
      • by noundi (1044080)
        A used bookstore would be a bookstore that has been used. A used book store would be a bookstore with used books. In a strange irrelevant way you're both right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mick88 (198800)

        one word: library

  • Talk is cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marcika (1003625) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:13AM (#28835427)
    Has Bezos offered anything more material than a free "apology" as compensation for his customers? No? Then any talk of this being "heartfelt and anguished" is just the corporate spin of the issue.

    If Amazon truly wanted to fix their mistake, they would restore the book to the affected Kindles (and work out a deal with the rightholders themselves, maybe).

    • 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: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mdwh2 (535323)

        If the same had happened with someone not having the right to print physical books, would they have taken the books back?

        And even if you want to make the receiving stolen goods analogy, the point is that it's the job of the police and courts to do that, not a private company.

        The OP is correct to say talk is cheap. "Oh sorry, I took your book. Btw you're not getting it back". It's not actually an apology.

      • by mcvos (645701)

        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.

        He could at least point to Project Gutenberg, which offers the same book for free.

      • by RingDev (879105) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:02AM (#28836521) Homepage Journal

        The right of first sale, The purchaser bought the book in good faith. The seller, who sold illegally can turn over the list of people they sold that book to, and the police can track down all those people and confiscate their kindles while an expert deletes the book from each of them. If the consumers had purchased dead tree copies of the book that Amazon had sold illegally, Amazon would not be allowed to trespass into each person's house and remove the book. So why is it that they are allowed to trespass into our digital property and steal (as in I paid and had it, now I don't) from us?

        Unfortunately, that would be costly and expensive, so instead they just overstep their bounds and deleted the files themselves. While claiming that the customers had only purchased a revocable license to read the content of the book.

        Personally, I'd really like to see some of these cases of license to view content vs sale of property get into a court. Because as it stands now, consumers are on the significantly shorter end of the stick. Heck I'd love to see Congress be proactive, but the odds of that happening are about slim to nil.

        -Rick

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

      by ErikZ (55491) * on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:41AM (#28835613)

      So you're saying whenever someone jumps on Amazon and starts selling books that they don't own, Amazon has to go replace those books with legit copies?

      • Re:Talk is cheap (Score:5, Insightful)

        by maxwell demon (590494) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:51AM (#28835705) Journal

        If they sold paper copies of books where the publisher didn't have the publishing rights, would they come to every customer who bought the book and take it away?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by geirnord (150896)

        So you're saying whenever someone jumps on Amazon and start selling books they don't own, Amazon has the rights to go to your house, lock themselves in, steal back the illegal copy and leave?

        While none of these solutions are good solution, I thinkreplacing the books would be the most appropriate solution. Since the customers have paid for these books, Amazon (and the vendor who f***ed up) have gotten paid enough to barter a deal with the rights holder to make these copies legal.

  • Apology Nothing... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:16AM (#28835449) Journal
    Unless Amazon sees to it that the last thing remotely deleted is their ability to remotely delete, their "apology" is just so much eloquent PR posturing.
  • Even if this was entirely a screwup on the part of the bookseller (though, doesn't Amazon check such things before selling the books?), the fact that Amazon is willing to delete product in this way is telling. I wondered if we'd get a memo that read something like:

    "We apologise for the sacking of your books. Those responsible for sacking your books, have been sacked."
  • by LaminatorX (410794) <sabotage@NoSpAm.praecantator.com> on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:25AM (#28835515) Homepage

    1984 declared non-purchase.

    Read is thoughtcrime.

  • by Chrisq (894406) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:26AM (#28835519)
    Doublethink. Just get the customers to think that there never was such a book, and that they hadn't read it half way through.
  • by Alethes (533985) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:28AM (#28835529)

    If this is out of line with Amazon's principles, then why does the technology to remotely delete books exist?

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Maybe because there's little difference in deleting those files and doing an system update?

      • by xjimhb (234034) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:26AM (#28836101) Homepage

        Maybe because there's little difference in deleting those files and doing an system update?

        Wrong. I expect system updates to affect /bin, /sbin. /usr, /etc, /lib, and so on (or whatever the equivalent for the Kindle are). I DO NOT expect system updates to do ANYTHING to /home, which is where the books should be stored. So a system update procedure that allows it to mess with MY FILES is clearly bug-infested. The Kindle software totally sucks if it can do this.

        And I agree with the comments that say the "apology" is nothing more than lip-service. I will NEVER buy any e-books (or e-anything-else) from Amazon. I may trust them to the extent of buying PAPER books, plastic CDs and DVDs, etc., if they break into my house to take those back I at least have the option of calling the cops!

  • Here's a dump of the protocol Kindle uses to communicate with the Amazon servers:


    times 17.3.84 bb speech malreported africa rectify

    times 19.12.83 forecasts 3 yp 4th quarter 83 misprints verify current issue

    times 14.2.84 miniplenty malquoted chocolate rectify

    times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

  • by retech (1228598) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:30AM (#28835543)
    If you really want to restore faith in your customers how about completely unlocking their kindles and let them decide what they do and do not delete? Or perhaps that's too much heart for Bezos.

    I doubt he'd have a single "heartfelt" thing to say if he wasn't dragged over the hot coals of the net.
  • by Zombie Ryushu (803103) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:34AM (#28835571)

    Repeat after me: Death to DRM. Terminate all instances of DRM in all cases. The user's content is the user's fair use. Resist DRM until death

  • totally apropos, making a PERFECT example of the travesty that is DRM, by deleting a selection that could not serve more perfectly as a dénouement to this entire issue.

    HEY BEZOS: PEOPLE OWN WHAT THEY PAY FOR.

    kulakovich
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      HEY BEZOS: PEOPLE OWN WHAT THEY PAY FOR.

      I just paid a friend a penny for the entire western hemisphere.
      Now GET OFF MY LAND!

  • ... until they can convince me beyond reasonable doubt that they removed the ability to delete books on their customer's devices.

    • by ErikZ (55491) *

      Ok, see the wireless button? Turn that off.

      You now have a Kindle that Amazon will never be able to delete stuff from. When are you placing your order?

      • by Rennt (582550)

        So the only purpose of the wireless functionality is to delete books? Surely not.

        Wouldn't the same thing happen when you sync your kindle via USB? Even if this is not the case - disabling wireless would severely limit the device and remove functionality you paid for. You can't seriously suggest that is a reasonable option.

  • Perhaps it's my advanced state of sleeplessness, but I swear I just read that as 'Bozo Offers Apology for Erasing 1984.' Anyways, an apology is hardly going to rebuild the trust he lost with his Kindle customers through these actions. He has made Amazon.com the laughing stock of the industry!
  • by John Hasler (414242) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:50AM (#28835699) Homepage

    I'm sure Mr. Bezos can afford advisors who know that that is the key to "sincerity" and can coach him on how to achieve it.

    However, they still consciously and deliberately designed their system so as to allow them to remove material from Kindle owners' machines without their knowledge or permission. Why would anyone trust a company that would do that? Have they removed that functionality and explained why it was there in the first place?

  • Though 1984 isn't a bad choice, Fahrenheit 411 would have been ever better.
  • by benjfowler (239527) on Monday July 27, 2009 @08:57AM (#28835777)

    Talk is cheap, and it costs nothing to apologise. Clearly, this is an attempt to mollify angry customers, and nothing more. This is rather typical of Amazon's contempt for their customers. They've demonstrated through their actions -- imposing odious DRM on their paying customers, and setting a dangerous precedent for Big Content to rape their customers at will -- that they cannot be trusted.

    Trust is very hard to build and very easy to destroy. I will not spend a red cent with Amazon again.

    Interestingly, beyond Jeff's cheap talk, they seem to be showing very little remorse. All my enquiries to their "customer" "service" contact either get a form letter, or are ignored entirely. Likewise, my requests to them to close my account have been ignored.

    Amazon doesn't deserve your business. Don't shop with Amazon, and spend your money with book retailers who show their customers at least a token amount of respect.

  • Jeff Bezos is wrong, Amazon's "'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles." is not a correct statement. DRM use was " the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles.". OK, maybe not out of line with their principles, they are the purveyors of the 1-click patent if you recall.

    As it just goes to show, if you pay for digital media, you get screwed. If you pirate it, you get a demonstrably and provably better product, albeit

  • by jamesh (87723) on Monday July 27, 2009 @09:07AM (#28835887)

    A wise person once said "sometimes it is easier to seek forgiveness than permission". I think that we are seeing that phrase in action.

  • If you don't like the way that Amazon runs it's Kindle program then don't buy one. I'm sure the impact of the 1984 incident will impact Amazon sales of new Kindles. Or, maybe consumers will chalk it up to life at the bleeding edge and the incident won't affect sales. Either way, any consumer's relationship with Kindle is a voluntary one. If it gets abusive because of Amazon's practices then sales will slow and a competitor with more consumer friendly terms will jump in and be rewarded.
  • Principles (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jvkjvk (102057) on Monday July 27, 2009 @10:53AM (#28837239)

    [the] 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless and painfully out of line with our principles

    Principles aren't something that you talk about, they are something that you do.

    And Amazon certainly stood behind it's principles when it wiped the book, by acting.

    The only thing Amazon is upset about is the backlash from consumers against their actual principles.

    So, they go on to say "oh, no! we REALLY have these different principles, pay no attention to what we actually did".

    You have to wonder if Jeff actually wrote it, or if the PR and marketing departments had their hand in the piece. That would be another "principle" derived from actions. Perhaps a good writing fingerprint program could tell you...

    Regards.

  • If the public is ever going to see and understand what DRM is, and the danger it represents, we need more incidents like this. Especially incidents noteworthy enough to get mainstream media coverage. As things stand now, the average electronic device user has no clue about DRM. Articles and issues like this can hopefully change this... eventually.
  • Bullshit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MarkvW (1037596) on Monday July 27, 2009 @11:46AM (#28838173)

    If Amazon really cared about their customers, they'd remove the facility that allows them to delete user content from user devices.

    Even the capacity is unthinkable. Amazon is always trying to see just how much invasiveness they can get away with.

    There are other aggregators out there . . .

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell

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