Amazon gets bullied, pulls purchased e-books from Kindles

Amazon gets bullied, pulls purchased e-books from Kindles

Summary: Imagine buying a DVD at Wal-Mart and then, a few days later, someone from the Hollywood studio that produced that movie breaks into your house, takes that DVD out of your collection and leaves a refund on the dresser for you - all because that studio suddenly decided that it didn't want Wal-Mart selling its DVDs.Sounds crazy, right?

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Imagine buying a DVD at Wal-Mart and then, a few days later, someone from the Hollywood studio that produced that movie breaks into your house, takes that DVD out of your collection and leaves a refund on the dresser for you - all because that studio suddenly decided that it didn't want Wal-Mart selling its DVDs.

Sounds crazy, right? But, in theory, that's exactly what Amazon is doing with two electronic books sold for the Kindle e-book reader. Apparently, the publisher that supplied Amazon with George Orwell titles - specifically Animal Farm and 1984 - decided that it no longer wants to sell through Amazon. So they had Amazon remove them - even though they'd been legally purchased by Kindle owners. (Techmeme)

Just like that.

I can't begin to put into words just how creepy this is. Amazon says that it's "rare," but just the fact that it can happen at all is worrisome on so many levels. If Amazon can do it with books, what's to stop a movie studio or music label from doing the same thing to someone else, say Apple and its iTunes store.

Bad PR move, Amazon. Don't you have some sort of binding legal agreement with the publishers that could prevent something like this from happening? Where were the lawyers? Where was the PR team? And why didn't anyone warn the customers ahead of time?

It will take some real PR magic for Amazon to deflect the negative publicity of this one. Right now, Amazon looks like the egghead kid who caved to a bully and gave up the lunch money to avoid a fight. It sure does make it hard to earn any respect when you come across looking like a punk.

Topics: Hardware, Amazon, Mobility

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40 comments
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  • DTPA

    Let's hope somebody decides to sue their butts off under a state's Deceptive Trade Practices Act -- claiming that an item sold has qualities, characteristics, source, certification, approval or etc., which in fact it does not have (e.g., claiming non-kosher products are kosher). And those laws routinely allow multiple damages plus attorney's fees. State Attorneys General also enforce those laws. I hope a few folks also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

    I guess it just goes to prove one of the Rules of Acquisition: "A contract is a contract, is a contract!"

    "... As long as it's with another Ferengi!"
    Rick_R
    • Stick to science fiction,...

      because you don't know anything about the law.
      sfriedrich
  • RE: Amazon gets bullied, pulls purchased e-books from Kindles

    Why is this article and the examples so similar to
    the New York Times article here:
    http://tinyurl.com/mgw9k6
    dave7654321
  • RE: Amazon gets bullied, pulls purchased e-books from Kindles

    and people gripe about Apple being able to remotely zap your
    iphone. Interesting dichotomy. Amazon however should replace
    those items and tell the publisher that it's not within its right
    to run through someone's device and pull something that's
    legally been purchased. However, this is an issue with storing
    something on YOUR server vs. Their server. If it's there's then
    they have to remove it. But since you've purchased the item and
    paid for it, you should be entitled to the copy no matter what.
    The gripe is with Amazon and the publisher, not the book
    owner, as they've been paid already.

    Mike
    ceo8
    • So when the police show up

      to confiscate stolen property, you're gonna tell them you legally purchased it?

      Do you have any knowledge of current law?
      sfriedrich
  • What's to stop them?

    [b][i]If Amazon can do it with books, what?s to stop a movie studio or music label from doing the same thing to someone else, say Apple and its iTunes store.[/i][/b]

    What's to stop them is users who don't purchase DRM-laden content, and who don't put it on devices that are hooked tightly into and controlled by someone else.

    Purchasing a physical book means that you physically buy a copy... you have ownership rights to that copy (not to be confused with copyrights). There is no reason, conceptual or otherwise, that you should not demand similar rights for copies you purchase electronically. Non-DRM content viewable on a device you own and control. This content was legally purchased in good faith by consumers. The only reason and excuse for publishers to exert that kind of control can be summarized in three words: because they can. Can they do it on Amazon and iTunes? Sure, so don't be a sucker. Buy elsewhere.
    dave.leigh9
    • Don't be ignorant of the law

      Amazon helped it's customers.

      If they hadn't deleted the ILLEGAL copies, law enforcement would have, by court order, obtained a list of users. Then local police would have served the warrants and taken the DEVICES back to their stations. Your device would have been in the property room for a LONG TIME.

      Amazon is not the bad guy here. The turds who put the files on their site are. They didn't have the copyright.

      Users are lucky to get their money back.
      sfriedrich
  • I would not just blame Amazon...

    but blame the publisher for pulling out all of a sudden. I understand people upset they lost their e-book, but they got a refund.

    Now I would question buying e-books from Amazon again, as this could happen again, but I gotta ask why the publisher would pull out all of a sudden.
    aretaksonic
    • You are ignorant of the facts

      The "publisher" that put the files on Amazon's site didn't have the copyright. They were NOT the publisher.
      sfriedrich
  • Nothing new - has happened with movies many times

    This has happened with several movies. That's why I don't "buy" from Amazon anymore.

    I guess when it happens to books it gets more attention though since it's about the Kindle.
    fawlty70
    • Oh...

      I misunderstood it - I thought they only pulled them from the library after you purchased the movie. Pulling them from the user's hardware does indeed seem worse , IIRC movies have not been deleted remotely, only from the Amazon library.
      fawlty70
  • Time for real digital rights legislation

    This is unacceptable. Retailers like Amazon don't seem up to representing anyone but content creators and no one is representing the rights of consumers in this equation.
    How would you like to read a magazine or book on your Kindle, put it down and go to lunch, come home to find the material gone and an email saying you have a credit coming. WTF?
    Looks like paper books aren't inferior or past their prime.
    snafu_77
  • We've always been at war with Eurasia

    1984 is hilariously the best example for this to happen
    with. Retroactively re-writing history and such. No you
    didn't purchase that book it does not exist.
    BP314
    • Eurasia has always been our allies

      We have always been at war with East Asia
      nucrash
  • Kindle off my list

    The Kindle was just permanently removed from my list of "things I want". I'll keep getting books from the library (if I don't want to keep them) or in dead-tree form (if) I want them for reference.

    You see, If I buy it, that means I want it. The seller may grant me the option of returning a book in a reasonable amount of time, in new condition, or may not. I take the ease of return into account and usually buy books (and other items) I'm even a little uncertain about from someone with a decent return policy and a local presence. However - I absolutely do not grant the seller the unilateral right to return my money and take back the merchandise. I might be willing to have the seller ask me for permission to do that, but I have to retain the right to refuse. The purchase took two parties, in agreement. So does a return.

    So, to reiterate: I've wanted (something a lot like) a Kindle since the Newton, if not before (remember the Newton?). I won't be getting a Kindle - period.
    _JohnH
  • Complete BS!!!

    I'm getting sick of this ridiculous idea that because you buy something in a digital format you don't actually own it and can't do what you want with it.
    storm14k
    • Welcome to the corporate state

      The corporations have purchased this new "rights" system through
      campaign contributions and heavy lobbying in the US.

      Welcome to the fascism. The wealthy and their limited liability "entities"
      called corporations control this country, and not for our benefit.
      gertruded
    • You're misinformed

      This is basic IP law. It's true that the music industry has been trying to effectively repeal "fair use", but we don't have to stand for it.

      If I buy a book, I can lend it to you and you can legally read it. Only one person has possession at one time. If I COPY the book, and give you the copy, I have violated the law.

      You can become better informed if you check out the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation).

      You can buy an album on any media, but that doesn't give you the right to perform the songs in public.
      sfriedrich
  • Blame the publisher

    I say it's publisher's greed, or Orwell's estate...they think Amazon isn't PAYING them enough (99 cents DOES sound awfully cheap per copy). However it IS reprehensible that previously purchased copies were taken back.

    '1984' is still being sold on Sony's e-book site (though I didn't find 'Animal Farm' there). But the [b]$16.80[/b] asking price is a fair sight higher than the 99 cent refunds that Amazon was/is giving back.

    flatliner
    • You are ignorant of the facts

      The "publisher" that put the content on Amazon's site didn't own the copyright.

      Would you prefer that the IP owner notify the FBI, the FBI gets a court order to acquire the list of people who bought it, the FBI comes to you and confiscates your DEVICE?

      I now know how conspiracy theories arise. The spew from the mouths of people IGNORANT of the FACTS.
      sfriedrich