Amazon Promises No More Kindle Deletions

This summer, Amazon caused an uproar by deleting copies of George Orwell books from users' Kindles due to a licensing problem.

As if newspaper headlines about Amazon sending "1984" down the memory hole weren't bad enough, the company also had to deal with a potential class-action lawsuit as a result.

But Amazon seems to have curbed public criticism and also resolved its legal problems. Soon after the deletions, CEO Jeff Bezos quelled much of the bad press by apologizing. He later promised to pay $30 to users whose books were deleted.

And now, the company has agreed to resolve the class-action lawsuit by vowing that it won't delete content remotely again. At least not for the most part. The settlement agreement, quietly filed with the court last week, has some loopholes. Amazon can still erase material in response to court orders, if the company needs to do so to protect consumers (such as when it learns that downloaded material contains harmful code) and in a few other situations.



Amazon also said it will pay $150,000 to the law firm KamberEdelson, which has promised to donate some of that money to charity.

In July, the Orwell deletions sparked at least one call for new legislation. Now that the dust has settled, the issue might seem less urgent. But the fact remains, digital content is especially vulnerable to deletion by third parties. Consider, a Gmail user recently lost access to an in-box for five days as a result of a court order and a Flickr user recently saw his photos nuked. Absent some major court ruling or new legislation, it seems inevitable that these types of incidents will continue to occur.

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