Kindle Orwellian Nightmare Comes True!

Amazon today removed George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm from Kindle e-book reader devices. It seems like only a few months ago that I reported on the potential for a Kindle Orwellian Nightmare scenario, in which Amazon would unilaterally remove or redact material already present on the remote-linked reading device.

It's as if Amazon is taking a page from Orwell himself:

"All Kindles are history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as necessary."

Apparently, some Kindle editions of the two books were being sold by companies that did not hold the rights to the books. So, Amazon removed the books from the Kindle devices by remote update.

Fortunately, Amazon realizes that is is not a good idea, stating that they are changing their systems. However, it is too late to avoid subjecting Kindle customers to heavy loads of literary irony.

“Of all the books to recall,” said Charles Slater, an executive with a sheet-music retailer in Philadelphia, who bought the digital edition of “1984” for 99 cents last month. “I never imagined that Amazon actually had the right, the authority or even the ability to delete something that I had already purchased...”

“It illustrates how few rights you have when you buy an e-book from Amazon,” said Bruce Schneier, chief security technology officer for British Telecom and an expert on computer security and commerce. “As a Kindle owner, I’m frustrated. I can’t lend people books and I can’t sell books that I’ve already read, and now it turns out that I can’t even count on still having my books tomorrow.”

Even worse, people also lost any notes or annotations associated with the Kindle files for 1984 and Animal Farm.

Via New York Times and a salute to UrbZen for bringing up the topic in the first place.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 7/17/2009)

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