Amazon sparks digital ownership debate
“Orwell fans, lock your doors,” was the reaction from Amazon user Caffeine Queen after she and others had received notice from Amazon last Friday that their e-book versions of “1984” and “Animal Farm” had been removed from their Kindle device.
Amazon explained later that these electronic versions were distributed illegally and that customers were refunded.
Amazon’s decision to remotely delete the e-books not only infuriated customers, it sparked a debate on digital ownership.
Richard Waters of the Financial Times argues that this episode questions the future of ownership in an electronic age:
“New internet media platforms like this raise a dilemma. Their owners have the power to control information on the client. So if they have a legal responsibility to remove data from their systems – say, after receiving a take-down notice under the DMCA – failing to expunge it may expose them to liability.”
Melissa J. Perenson of PC World asks if you can still call it “owning”:
If, in this digital realm, we’re not truly purchasing content, but rather “borrowing” it at a set price, and according to someone else’s changing rulebook, we as consumers we deserve to know this up front, in clear and obvious language (unlike Amazon’s clear references to “buying” books, and all the assumptions of ownership that go with buying books). If the rules have changed on us, we deserve to know.
Meanwhile, user Steve Holden offers his Kindle in the forum: “If I change my mind later I’ll just take it back and return your money. This isn’t digital rights, it’s digital wrongs.”