Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

E-Books and ownership

Kindle e-book reader

Kindle e-book reader

A rather interesting story has just emerged about Amazon’s Kindle and e-book versions of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm. There is a well-researched account of it at Copyfight. From my reading of this, Amazon distributed the e-books and then found out that the third party which had made them available via the Kindle store didn’t have the rights necessary to make them available. Hence Amazon pulled them from the store, removed them from user’s Kindles and gave them a refund.

I don’t own a Kindle, but if I did I would be worried when I found that something I thought I’d bought was removed from my device without asking me. That ‘purchase’ of an e-book becomes something more like a ‘license to view’, and even the ‘ownership’ of an e-book reader becomes questionable when Amazon can access it and delete items without authorisation. However on the other hand,  as the e-books weren’t fully legal they were in a sense stolen property, and as such the moral rights become blurred. I wouldn’t claim to be a lawyer and I would imagine that Amazon must have taken legal advice before taking any action.  In my own mind I’m undecided where rights here should lie – I sympathise with the people who bought the e-books in good faith, but I can also understand that this was a breach of copyright.  I wonder how many more new questions of this kind await us as we move to new forms of media?

July 23, 2009 Posted by | General | , | 1 Comment