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Amazon to pay $150,000 over Kindle eating Orwell -- and teen's homework

1984AmazonAnimal FarmKindleOrwell

Amazonteen Amazon has agreed to pay $150,000 in a lawsuit filed by Justin Gawronski, who sued the online retailer after George Orwell's novels "1984" and "Animal Farm" were deleted from his Kindle, along with his homework. The money, after going to the law firm representing the teen, will be donated to charity. Gawronski had already been compensated for the loss -- with a $30 gift certificate.

"Amazon has just proven that when I buy a book on the Kindle, I don't really own it," the 17-year-old told The Times' Mark Milian in July. "I just feel that is wrong."

The Orwell books had been added to the online retailer's site by a company that did not have the rights to sell them. In mid-July, with no notice to customers about the error, Amazon remotely deleted the ebooks, causing widespread consternation. People who'd gone to bed in the middle of reading "1984" found, upon waking, that the book had gone missing from their devices.

Amazon showed an "uncanny knack for irony," Gawronski's lawyer Jay Edelson wrote in the complaint, in employing a "Big Brother" manner, according to Bloomburg News. Their report notes that the lawsuit was settled Sept. 25 in Seattle, where Amazon is based.

Gawronski is based in Michigan, and was adversely affected when the Amazon deletion also partially ate his homework. "It's a lot of brainstorming. It's nothing super concrete," Gawronski told The Times. "I was between a quarter and halfway through [the book]. I had a good amount of notes."  Those notes survived, but they pointed only to strings of characters, where the novel's text had gone missing.

As for the other Orwell owners who lost their books, one commented on BoingBoing that he received a complete refund -- of $3.20.

-- Carolyn Kellogg

Photo: KamberEdelson

RELATED: Amazon's troubling reach

Kindle teen tattles on Amazon for losing his homework

Highlights from the '1984' lawsuit against Amazon

Comments () | Archives (4)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Nope, Your right: Anything with DRM is not owned by the person who pays for it.

DRM = Digital RENTAL Media

and every blogger is wondering how to monetize!?!?

This raises interesting questions about text ownership. There is something really cavalier about the way books are stored between the consumer and Amazon. It's really as if the book is collectively owned in some sense, existing somewhere in the space between the company and the owner. Very different from receiving, say, a neutral PDF file for the keeping.

The problem with IP is that because there is nothing physical, people assume there is no loss. What actually happens is the copyright holder loses a sale.

Amazon did not have the right to sell '1984'. It effectively was stolen property. Amazon made good their error, plus a goodwill gesture of $30.

Their removal of the book was not 'Orwellian'. There are plenty of places the book can be bought legally. No one in the US or EU will attempt to stop you reading it.


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