“Amazon.com is watching you.”


bigbrotherAmazon, we’re still mad at you.

Last week, the company once again stirred waves of customer indignation when it remotely deleted copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from users’ Kindles.

The Rumpus covered the story here and here.

The move, which CEO Jeff Bezos called “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles,” revealed the retailer’s far-reaching control over its electronic content and highlighted how few rights e-book purchasers actually have.

As Jack Balkin writes:

For centuries, we have understood, or rather believed, that owning books came with certain rights, including the right to keep what we purchase and to use it, mark it up, and sell it in any way we like. We were free to purchase books and keep them in our homes, without telling anybody what we were reading, or indeed, what page we had last looked at. Amazon’s Kindle upends all of these expectations.

Today, InformationWeek reports that Justin D. Gawronski and Antoine J. Bruguier, two interviewees featured in the July 18 New York Times article about the issue, have filed a lawsuit against Amazon and are seeking class-action status.1984.190

Gawronski, a 17-year-old from Detroit, purchased MobileReference’s copy of 1984 for a summer reading assignment. When the file was deleted, his notes and annotations “were rendered useless because they no longer referenced the relevant parts of the book.”

The plaintiffs seek restitution for “all damages caused by [Amazon’s] conduct,” as well as litigation expenses and attorney fees. They also ask the court to rule that Amazon does not have the right to remotely delete digital content from Kindles and such action is a violation of Amazon’s terms of use for the device.

Steven Tagle is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles, CA. He produces short-form documentaries for Current TV, and his work has appeared in Leland Quarterly, Word Choice, and Rainy Day. He is finishing his first novel. More from this author →