August 1, 2009

Amazon Being Sued By Student For Deleting Books

A student, along with other Kindle users, is suing Amazon for deleting books by George Orwell from its electronic book readers.

Justin Gawronski, a Michigan high school student, filed the suit on Thursday in a U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington.  He said that his copy of Orwell's "1984" was zapped from his Kindle.

"With an uncanny knack for irony, Amazon recently remotely deleted any traces of certain electronic copies of George Orwell's '1984' and 'Animal Farm' from customers' Kindles and iPhones, thereby sending these books down Orwell's so-called 'memory hole,'" the lawsuit said

Gawronski made "copious notes" on the version of "1984" he was reading as a summer homework assignment, according to the suit.

"After Amazon remotely deleted '1984,' those notes were rendered useless because they no longer referenced the relevant parts of the book," it said.

The suit said that Amazon did not let Kindle users know ahead of time that it had the ability to remotely delete content, and it is asking the court to prevent the online retail giant from doing so in the future.

"Amazon has no more right to delete e-books from consumers' Kindles and iPhones than it does to retrieve from its customers' homes paper books it sells and ships to consumers," it said.

The suit seeks for unspecified damages for Gawronski and other Kindle users that had the books digitally erased.

Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder and chief executive, apologized for remotely deleting the Orwell books last week, which were not authorized for sale by the publisher.

"Our 'solution' to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles," Bezos said. "It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received."

Amazon refunded the books of Orwell's that were purchased back to the Kindle users.


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