Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amazon Promises Not to Trespass and Steal Again

Here's what Amazon has to say about its trespass against Kindle owners and its forced "buy-back" of copies of 1984 and Animal Farm:
These books were added to our catalog using our self-service platform by a third-party who did not have the rights to the books. When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers. We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances.
"[I]n the future we will not remove books from customers' device in these circumstances." We have them on the record now. Let's see what happens.

HT: Peter Kafka.


Joe said...

This whole IP issue is very murky. Note that you used the word "steal" in your headline. If a written work is not "property" then how could it be "stolen?" Also, if I understand correctly, the customers from whose Kindles the books were electronically removed were refunded what they paid, so when there has been restitution, it's hard to call that stealing.

Then there's the news headlines, like "Amazon takes a page from 1984, deletes Orwell books from Kindles" (from tgdaily.com) that confound Amazon's private actions with that of the state entities in Orwell's book. It adds to the confusion in people's minds about rights and blurs the distinction between business and government. If Amazon.com (or any other bookstore) refuses to carry a certain type of books (e.g., LGBT, as I've seen Amazon accused of secretly having a bias against), then they're not engaging in "censorship." They're simply acting within their right to sell or promote what they want to. You may disagree with their choices so you are within your right not to do business with them. But they cannot force a choice on you, as government can.

Sheldon Richman said...

I used "steal" intentionally, more as bait than anything else. Amazon destroyed files in people's private property. If it's not literal stealing, it certainly is vandalism. Yes, it credited the customers' accounts for the amount paid. But that does not make it a refund. The customers never asked for a refund! This was a compulsory "buy-back," forced sale.

Of course, Amazon is not the government. But it broke its contract and understanding with its customers and committed this vandalism in support of IP law, which is a creature of the state. Amazon acted like the government's sheriff.

MarkZ said...

Exactly right. Amazon lost a lot of money in this deal. The only reason they would do that is because they knew they'd lose the money (perhaps even more) if the government forced their hand.

What they did was the old three stooges routine: when Curly knew he was going to get hit in the face with a pie, he just hit himself in the face with the pie first.

Sheldon Richman said...

It's trespass and vandalism. One of the victims should file a complaint. I own a Kindle but I did not buy the Orwell books. (Darn!)