Petter Reinholdtsen

Amazon steal books from customer and throw out her out without any explanation
22nd October 2012

A blog post from Martin Bekkelund today tell the story of how Amazon erased the books from a customer's kindle, locked the account and refuse to tell the customer why. If a real book store did this to a customer, it would be called breaking into private property and theft. The story has spread around the net today. A bit more background information is available in Norwegian from It is no surprise that digital restriction mechanisms (DRM) are used this way, as it has been warned about such abuse since DRM was introduced many years back. And Amazon proved in 2009 that it was willing to break into customers equipment and remove the books people had bought, when it removed the book 1984 by George Orwell from all the customers who had bought it. From the official comments, it even sounded like Amazon would never do that again. And here we are, three years later.

And thought this action is against Norwegian regulations and law, it is according to the terms of use as written by Amazon, and it is hard to hold Amazon accountable to Norwegian laws. It is just yet another example of unacceptable terms of use on the web, and how they are used to remove customer rights.

Luckily for electronic books, there are alternatives without unacceptable terms. For example Project Gutenberg (about 40,000 books), Project Runenberg (1,652 books) and The Internet Archive (3,641,797 books) have heaps of books without DRM, which can read by anyone and shared with anyone.

Update 2012-10-23: This story broke in the morning on Monday. In the evening after the story had spread all across the Internet, Amazon restored the account of the user, as reported by and NRK. Apparently public pressure work. The story from Martin have seen several twitter messages per minute the last 24 hours, which is quite a lot, and is still drawing a lot of attention. But even when the account is restored, the fundamental problem still exist. I recommend reading two opinions from Simon Phipps and Glen Moody if you want to learn more about the fundamentals and more details about the original story.

Tags: english, opphavsrett, personvern.

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