Recently, a Norwegian woman claimed Amazon wiped every book from her Kindle (remotely) and closed her account without a satisfactory explanation. Amazon has always said they have the right to close user accounts when they feel someone has violated their agreement with the books they’ve purchased. While many of us have faced similar problems with email or social media accounts after someone tried to access these accounts falsely, Amazon claims they looked into this and have associated her account with another one which had previously been blocked. I’m sure if someone looks into this further and decides her account was closed without merit, all of her books could be reloaded to her Kindle. Simple. But it brings up some interesting questions about Amazon and the Kindle and the rights they have over eBooks.
After reading this article on the matter, it becomes clear that purchasing electronic books does not give us ownership over those books, only usership…if that’s a word. We can use the books the way we are supposed to (which means, read them), and hopefully not use them in other ways deemed improper. When you purchase an actual hardcover book, you’re agreeing to the same things, really. You pay the money for the book,which is your agreement to the copyright that you will only read the book and not reproduce the book in any public format (without permission, of course). Does that mean that no one has ever photocopied pages from a book to use in a presentation or assignment? Probably not. But what can booksellers do about that? They can’t come back to a person who bought a book in their store and demand the book back simply because they heard the person read chapters out loud, for example, in public. Once they sell the book, it is up to the person who purchased it to follow the rules.
So how did Amazon KNOW this person violated some part of their agreement? It makes me very uncomfortable to think that they are monitoring users through their Kindles somehow. We hear about this all the time with computers. It’s bad enough to think that someone knows your every move online, but to think that someone is keeping track of your reading is somewhat worse, isn’t it? And while the aspect of Amazon being able to upload books to a new Kindle after one is lost or stolen is marvelous, maybe there really should be better safeguards, such as a password, as was stated in the above article.
It’s possible that there’s much more to the story and why this person’s account was closed and her books revoked. In fact, I’m sure of it. But it sure gets you thinking about how something as simple as reading a book could possibly bring about an invasion of our so-called privacy.
What do YOU think?