Friday, July 17, 2009

Renting vs. owning information

Blogger Lauren Weinstein notes that Amazon has been deleting e-books off of Kindle owners

In a turn of events so ironic that even the seediest Hollywood porn producer would have rejected the plot as ridiculously unrealistic, has demonstrated that the worlds of electronic vs. paper books are universes apart, and in one fell swoop magnified the worst fears of e-book detractors around the world.

The script sounds so ridiculous that it's almost embarrassing to recount. To retroactively satisfy a demand from one of their suppliers, Amazon reportedly reached electronically into privately-owned Kindle electronic book readers and deleted recently purchased copies of -- get this -- 1984 and Animal Farm by George Orwell.

The irony drips so thickly that it practically coagulates on spinning disk drives. Just as 1984's Winston Smith's role was to delete and change unacceptable points of history from information databases, Amazon -- without any warning and without asking for permission from Kindle owners -- destroyed e-books that had been legally purchased, replacing them with a purchase credit.
This is one good reason why most of my audio is RIP'd CDs and not downloadable music tracks. (My daughter undoubtedly will be different). It also goes to the heart of a major worry of university faculty, since we now rent annual access to journals (with next year's rental price unspecified) rather than buying and holding paper copies.

As an epilog to the story, unlike with Big Brother, the protest against Amazon has caused Amazon to change its policy. Perhaps if there’s enough of an uproar, Big Bad Amazon will allow iPhone users to get a copy of Delicious Library rather than block all access to its APIs by mobile devices; if ever there was a product meant to be on a mobile device, this is it.

H/T: Doug Klein

No comments: