Amazon Wipes Customer's Account, Locks All Ebooks, Says 'Find A New Retailer' When She Asks Why

from the kafka-would-be-proud dept

Techdirt has been warning people for several years that they don’t really own the ebooks they have on their Amazon Kindles. The most famous demonstration of this was the sudden disappearance of ebook versions of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm (you can’t make this stuff up.) But that’s nothing compared to what an Amazon customer in Norway now claims the company has done: shut down her Amazon account permanently and locked her Kindle — all without explanation.

When her ebooks became unavailable, Linn Jordet Nygaard, the customer in question, contacted Amazon to find out what had happened. She received the following reply:

We have found your account is directly related to another which has been previously closed for abuse of our policies. As such, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed and any open orders have been cancelled.

But the account holder claims to know nothing about any other account, and so she wrote back asking for more details:

As previously advised, your Amazon.co.uk account has been closed, as it has come to our attention that this account is related to a previously blocked account. While we are unable to provide detailed information on how we link related accounts, please know that we have reviewed your account on the basis of the information provided and regret to inform you that it will not be reopened.

Please understand that the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Thank you for your understanding with our decision.

Unhelpfully, then, Amazon simply re-iterated that the newly-closed account was “related” to another, previously blocked account, wouldn’t say why, and emphasized that this was an irrevocable ban, even to the extent of refusing to allow the person accused of this unspecified transgression to open any other account at any point in the future.

Again, Jordet Nygaard not unreasonably sought to find out what the problem was so that she could try to address it. This time, she received an email that is not only willfully unhelpful, but positively insulting thanks to a cheesy veneer of bogus sympathy that has been added for good measure:

We regret that we have not been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. Unfortunately, we will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

We wish you luck in locating a retailer better able to meet your needs and will not be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.

Of course, this is a totally Kafkaesque situation: found guilty of a crime you are not allowed to know, with no way to appeal. Over on Boing Boing, Cory Doctorow has an interesting theory about what might be the issue here:

I’d further speculate that the policy violation that Linn stands accused of is using a friend’s UK address to buy Amazon UK English Kindle books from Norway. This is a symptom of Amazon’s — and every single other ebook retailer’s — hopelessness at managing “open territory” for ebooks.

That sounds very plausible, and means that Jordet Nygaard is essentially being punished for the publishing industry’s incompetence when it comes to operating in a global online market, where national boundaries make no sense. Bad as that is, it’s only a side issue here. What’s most troubling is that Amazon not only closed down Jordet Nygaard’s account, forbade her from ever opening up one again, and refused to discuss any aspect of its actions with her, but that it apparently has the capability to lock her out from all Kindle ebooks on any device — and did so.

If you didn’t take the hint when Amazon erased a couple of Orwell’s books back in 2009, maybe this latest case involving the alleged remote lockout from all ebooks will finally get across the key message here: those Kindle ebooks you thought you had purchased, are actually only rented to you, and can be denied to you without explanation, and without recompense, any time Amazon wants to. The only ebooks you will ever truly own are those stored in open formats without DRM, which therefore allow backups to be made, and used anywhere.

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Comments on “Amazon Wipes Customer's Account, Locks All Ebooks, Says 'Find A New Retailer' When She Asks Why”

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165 Comments
MRK says:

Re: Mmmmmmmmmm

There won’t be a lawsuit. Amazon’s terms of service had you sign away your rights to sue. Instead you must go through “Arbitration”.

Don’t remember agreeing to arbitration? Well you probably didn’t. They can change the Terms of Service at any time.

Which is why the internet will be the death of society. The only thing that keeps commerece fair is when its possible for an angry customer to punch a crooked shopkeep in the nose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Mmmmmmmmmm

That is the same in the UK.

There was a case recently of a site with weak T&Cs that treid to enforce them and failed miserably.

She has a case, but does she have the money to fight it?

She can always just download the e-books she purchased and wants via bittorrent in DRM free versions and say a big fuck you to the publishers way of doing things.

Scote (profile) says:

Best of all, it is a **lifetime** ban.

Amazon makes it clear that the customer is banned from buying any kindle content for life, and banned from accessing her already purchased kindle books for life. Given Amazon’s market dominance, that is a very serious ban. 9 out of 10 books sold in the UK are kindle books. When a company gets that much market dominance, consumers need additional protections.

Anonymous Coward says:

Amazon are not alone in this type of customer treatment. what makes it worse is when the ‘executive customer services rep’ gives no information as to why the customer gets this treatment.
on a slight change, Amazon have been reported as charging publishers UK 20% vat on ebooks when they only pay 3% vat to Luxembourg, where they’re based. that means an extra ?1.38 profit on every ?10 book sale. it has also not payed UK corporation tax on ?7bn of sales! nothing like taking the piss when all ordinary UK citizens are getting pounded by the government. owe ?1 in tax and they are all over you. owe millions and they go nowhere near you! just remember, ‘we are all in this together’!! i dont think!!!

Amusing says:

To be honest, I see Amazon and other e-retailers’ point about open territory. Namely, that if they ever got that judgment wrong, they’d be the victims of a copyright lawsuit of hilarious scale. They have the capability to monitor and enforce copyright compliance on their systems, and if they ever stop…well. Yeah.

To be perfectly clear: I do not believe that this is a good thing, but blaming Amazon for following the current legal climate is futile.

That said, why does anyone own a Kindle? Take your downloaded Amazon e-book, break the DRM, and put your purchased e-book on a reader that’s not retardedly broken. FFS, folks. Not hard.

Zos (profile) says:

Re: Re:

i have a kindle, but i’ve never synced it with anything, never been to the kindle store, never purchased an ebook through any official retailer.

I honestly can’t imagine why i would do any of those things, any more than visiting the itunes store to fill up my ipod.

it’s a great ereader, but there’s no reason to allow yourself to be held hostage to someones TOS.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I have a kindle because I like the ecosystem. I like being able to read my books on just about any device without having to move it myself. I like having each device knowing exactly where in the book I’m at.

That being said, I’ve never bought an ebook on Amazon that costs more than free precisely for this reason (public domain books FTW). A big reason reason why copyright maximalists don’t want copyright to end is that they are scared to death of competing against the public domain. It’s not because they think they can make a significant amount of money from older works, and it’s certainly not because of some moral or ethical argument. They just don’t want to have to compete against so much good and already well known and popular stuff. If copyright were shortened to just 28 years, new works would have to compete with that much more works.

John Doe says:

Re: Re:

I have the Kindle app on my phone & tablet and love being able to sync my reading across both as well as the web reader. But I also copy the ebook off my tablet to my laptop where I commence to breaking, nigh, shattering the DRM to millions of bits (pun intended). I then copy to a directory on my laptop where I be able to keep it safe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

That said, why does anyone own a Kindle? Take your downloaded Amazon e-book, break the DRM, and put your purchased e-book on a reader that’s not retardedly broken. FFS, folks. Not hard.

Yep. Every book I purchase through Amazon (close to 250 so far) gets downloaded, deDRMed, and imported into Calibre. The only downside is that I lose multi-device syncing, but that’s not a big deal for me. I tend to read a different book on each device anyway.

Colin (profile) says:

Re: So why should I even try and choose the legal routes again?

It is actually pretty simple to use the legal (well mostly legal) routes. I use a Sony Reader and buy everything in ePub format. If it doesn’t exist in that format, I wait or buy something else. The publication immediately gets its DRM removed upon download if it has such an evil thing. Now there is no way for Sony or Google or anyone else to delete my account and remove my legally purchased items from my possession. OK, so I’m probably going to go to Publishers H**l when I die (if such a thing exists) but in the interim I’m going to enjoy my reading the way I want.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re:

Technically you didn’t lose your money, just the rights to the purchased items. Of course if you read that wall of text they call TOS or EULA… you would have been well aware that they would at some point be taking your money and providing nothing in return.

This is EXACTLY why I refuse to buy music or movies in a digital format. I have yet to buy an ebook either (though I have several that were ‘free’.

RD says:

Re: Re:

“So if I try to obey the law I run the risk of actually losing my money… but if pirate this stuff I retain 100% control of my devices….

So why should I even try and choose the legal routes again?”

Because apparently, YOU (the consumer) are expected to be honest and moral and do the right thing and “support the artist” but everyone else on the other side of the equation does not.

Scote (profile) says:

Re: Right, because giant corporations are never wrong.

Even if the customer did violate an Amazon policy, and at this time we have no proof that they did, that wouldn’t justify remotely wiping all purchased content **and** keeping the customers money.

Do you propose that Barnes and Nobel should be able to come into your house and seize books you purchased if they should arbitrarily decide that you, or someone they think is associated with you, violated one of their one-sided Terms of Service?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Right, because giant corporations are never wrong.

[quote]Do you propose that Barnes and Nobel should be able to come into your house and seize books you purchased if they should arbitrarily decide that you, or someone they think is associated with you, violated one of their one-sided Terms of Service?[/quote]

That’s pretty much what publishers and the movie industries want. Along with immunity from criminal charges if they shoot your dog.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Doubt it

I’m more tempted to believe amazon then this women.

Resist the temptation.

Next time it will be you.

Have you never had this kind of experience with a corporation yet? If not then you will have.

Their stonewalling on the reasons because the reasons aren’t good. If they had good reasons then they wouldn’t be scared to tell them in public.

If I were her I would send back the Kindle and sue for the return of everythiong that I had spent.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Doubt it

Heaven knows customers lie through their teeth to get what they want all the time.

Right, and corporations never lie to get what they want. We must defend these virtuous corporations from their evil customers!

Seriously, any random person on the street is far more likely to be honest and trustworthy than any random large corporation.

davnel (profile) says:

Re: Re: Doubt it

“Seriously, any random person on the street is far more likely to be honest and trustworthy than any random large corporation.”

Because the large corporation has no legal responsibility, and no way to punish it if it’s bad. Immunity to the human members, ya know! They can do what they bloody well please with no penalty.

out_of_the_blue says:

"If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

“…maybe this latest case [fill in reference] will finally get the key message across:” — Corporations aren’t answerable to you mere “natural” persons, and it’s (again) high time to demand that corporations serve the public interest instead of the foolish notions they can be let run “free”, “invisible hand of the market”, and all that “laissez-faire” crap which has been entirely disproved by history. But most of you seem to think corporatism is all to the good, and though stories here every day all have the same basics, can’t see the fundamentals of corporations. — They’re sheerly to legalize various forms of plunder and tyranny.

John Doe says:

Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Unfortunately the governments hand is involved here. By granting monopoly rights to content creators for infinity plus a day we get these kind of situations. In a free market, there wouldn’t be DRM or at least no consequences to breaking it and she would still have her books.

jilocasin (profile) says:

Re: Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

That should read;

“By granting monopoly rights to content creators for infinity minus a day we get these kind of situations.”

The constitution says “for a limited time” and those helpful folks at the Supreme Court have ruled that “infinity minus a day” is limited enough to qualify.

Just a thought.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Here you are telling us that powerful groups of people can and do bad things, and yet ask that another powerful group of people be given more power so they can stop the first group of powerful groups from using the powers the latter group of powerful people gave them because the latter powerful group of people had the power and were convinced by the former groups to grant the former groups said powers.

Allow me to be more specific: You want corporations to be controlled by governments by granting the government more power to stop the corps from using the powers that the government granted to them simply because they had the power to do so and were convinced by the corps to do so.

Do you actually read what you write? I call my 3 year old a random thought generator, but she still makes a lot more sense than you.

A weak government is one that cannot give corps more powers. Regulatory capture is weakened in a weak government. More government power, more regulatory capture, more powerful corps. Weak government power, no regulatory capture, less powerful corps. It’s all fairly simple.

ldne says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Show me one government regulation that has actually “reigned in” anything. Every rule governments create is written by lawyers, they’re all designed with a work around, a loophole, or an exception process in mind so favors can be granted to donors and sponsors or they’re written to surreptitiously hamper the competition in favor of a sponsor or donor.

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

Re: Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

That makes no sense. Not to insult your child, but the logical string you put forward (more gov’t reg, more corp power versus less gov’t reg, less corp power) sounds like your 3 year old came up with it.

Reality shows that corps will move to a monopoly/maximize profits when there are no reins on their activities. Gov’t isn’t perfect (to put it politely) but to extrapolate from the involvement of gov’t regulation with corps that if there were less regulation the corps would be less powerful is insane when you look at history.

Look at the Great Depression, the government’s regulatory reactions in the 1930s, and what happened as soon as the 1990s/2000s government lifted many of those regulations. Less regulation, more powerful corporations, and whammo, the current recession.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

And why did the banks go hog wild with bad investments? Because they knew the powerful government would bail them out, either with the FDIC or through the bailouts.

A government that has the power to take away the liberties of groups of people (called a corporation) has the power to take away the liberties of groups of people (called citizens).

Show me a historical corporation that got powerful and needed a government to bring it down that wasn’t given that power by the government to begin with.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

“And why did the banks go hog wild with bad investments? Because they knew the powerful government would bail them out, either with the FDIC or through the bailouts.”

Well since you asked. They were pretty much encouraged to go wild, by the government in order to keep the economy pumping along. For instance in housing (a huge part of the problem), the government mandated that they give loans to people that the banks would otherwise not have (Why? Because the banks knew the buyers couldn’t pay back the loans). The housing market had been running way overheated for at least 10 years, due to that.

“A government that has the power to take away the liberties of groups of people (called a corporation) has the power to take away the liberties of groups of people (called citizens).”

Well they have already taken away a mountain of my liberties, so let them chew on the corporations for a while, they can afford it. Oh wait, they won’t! Why? Because the corporations can write much bigger checks to the government representatives than I can.

“Show me a historical corporation that got powerful and needed a government to bring it down that wasn’t given that power by the government to begin with.”

Just one? How about Apple. Nah, I can’t stop there; Google; Microsoft; General Electric; I am sure I could come up with a lot more.

Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely!

A Dan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

I presume he’s referring to the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac “Affordable Housing Goals”. Loans to borrowers who couldn’t afford them were a significant cause of the “subprime mortgage crisis”.

Lenders must provide Fannie Mae with all Housing Goals specific data items for every loan we purchase so that we can measure our success in meeting our regulatory Housing Goals. Our regulator uses this information ? about the borrower(s) (race, ethnicity, gender, age, income, first-time homebuyer status, etc.) and the loan (mortgage note date, APR spread, loan purpose, loan type, etc.) ? to determine if we are satisfying its requirements to, among other things, provide affordable housing to low-income borrowers and those living in low-income areas.

https://www.efanniemae.com/sf/refmaterials/hsgoaldata/

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:6 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

” Also, the loans that were backed by these programs were not the ones that caused a problem.”

Really? Then exactly why was there a need for a Federal takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? They most certainly were a part of the problem.

Mandate was probably the wrong word, but the government created the situation. The government deregulated banking and made it a stated goal that every family should own a home. Then they lowered interest rates, later raising them, forcing all those with ARM’s into a position where they could no longer make payments.

Sure there were a lot of causes, but lack of government oversight, and in fact encouragement created much of the problem.

eclecticdave (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

“Show me a historical corporation that got powerful and needed a government to bring it down that wasn’t given that power by the government to begin with.”

Just one? How about Apple. Nah, I can’t stop there; Google; Microsoft; General Electric; I am sure I could come up with a lot more.

Well OK then …

Microsoft wouldn’t even have a business model without copyright (a government granted monopoly whether you agree with it or not).

Apple might do a bit better, but they would probably have done less well if they hadn’t been able to enforce their EULA forbidding Mac OS installs on third party hardware. More recently they’ve used patents mercilessly to try to prevent competition.

General Electric – don’t power companies in the US get their operating license from the government?

Which just leaves Google. The only company in your list that didn’t get much government help AFAIK and as a consequence doesn’t much need to be brought down as it doesn’t hold a monopoly position.

Try again.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

See my response above.

Many people, as in individuals, ‘abuse’ government granted freedoms, rights… too. Perhaps going back to the times of anarchy would be more well suited to your tastes then?

Those with the biggest sword, gun, etc will just take from everyone else. That is pretty much how it has worked throughout history.

Mr. Applegate says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

First of all there is no need to try again. I was asked to show one, I showed Google and you agreed!

Second, the statement seemed to indicate that the Government ‘helped’ specific companies by creating incentives for a specific company or industry, at least that is how I read it. In many cases this is true. The government, for example, helped the railroad, phone companies, etc by creating conditions that made it favorable for the company to do something it otherwise would not. In fact the government required it. The Government did not aim to create a software company (Microsoft) or a smartphone / tablet maker (Apple). Microsoft and Apple did what all companies, and in fact nearly all people do, they exploit an existing situation to their advantage. That is pretty much nature, you find it in plants, animals, and people.

Government attempts, often wrong headed to be sure, to level the playing field. The problem, especially today, is that the game is changing nearly daily and the laws don’t. Any person or company can, and will use that to their advantage.

You sound like Obama “If you have a business, you didn’t build that”. That is patently absurd. People (and corporation are made up of *gasp* people, and will exploit their environment, to their advantage, to reach their goal. This will happen, with or without government intervention.

You could kill copyright today and in a short period of time those affected would come up with other ways to make money and protect ‘their IP’.

Third, General Electric is not just ‘a power company’, however, I will give you that they are in fact in several businesses that are heavily regulated (to G.E.’s favor) by the government and thus a bad example.

eclecticdave (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

First of all there is no need to try again. I was asked to show one, I showed Google and you agreed!

Well no, you were asked:

“Show me a historical corporation that got powerful and needed a government to bring it down that wasn’t given that power by the government to begin with.”

Google wasn’t granted any significant power by the government, nor does it show any real need to be “brought down” (FDA’s threatened anti-trust investigation non-withstanding). Incorporated in 1998, it arguably isn’t even an “historical corporation” ๐Ÿ˜‰

Second, the statement seemed to indicate that the Government ‘helped’ specific companies by creating incentives for a specific company or industry, at least that is how I read it. In many cases this is true. The government, for example, helped the railroad, phone companies, etc by creating conditions that made it favorable for the company to do something it otherwise would not. In fact the government required it.

Yes, it granted them significant property rights over the land and a monopoly over the resulting infrastructure. If you’re going to do that then you need to properly regulate the companies to ensure they don’t abuse the privileged position they’ve been granted. Unfortunately the government has largely failed to do this and I’m not altogether convinced it is even possible to make this work.

The Government did not aim to create a software company (Microsoft) or a smartphone / tablet maker (Apple). Microsoft and Apple did what all companies, and in fact nearly all people do, they exploit an existing situation to their advantage. That is pretty much nature, you find it in plants, animals, and people.

No argument there – offer someone power and they will take it. It’s also clear that they will often abuse it if they can get away with it, particularly in the case of corporations whose only motive is profit. I don’t have any magic solutions to this problem, but identifying it as a problem has to be the first step.

Government attempts, often wrong headed to be sure, to level the playing field. The problem, especially today, is that the game is changing nearly daily and the laws don’t. Any person or company can, and will use that to their advantage.

The problem is, nearly every example that appears on this site is an example of the government tipping the playing field in favour of someone, or failing to level the playing field when it is clear that they need to do so. Some of it is down to glacial reaction speeds, sure, but often it is down to people or corporations with government granted power and influence using said power to their unfair advantage.

You sound like Obama “If you have a business, you didn’t build that”. That is patently absurd. People (and corporation are made up of *gasp* people, and will exploit their environment, to their advantage, to reach their goal. This will happen, with or without government intervention.

I’m not one of those people who think corporations and/or capitalism are inherently evil. A free market is supposed to be largely self-regulating, at least in theory. However it’s difficult to tell as I’m not sure we have ever had a true free market economy to observe!

You could kill copyright today and in a short period of time those affected would come up with other ways to make money

Good! I don’t want companies to stop making money – I just want them to stop gaming the system while they are doing it. Getting rid of copyright and patents would be an excellent first step!

j. says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Erm…? No, the reason the mortgage companies were cornering people into shoddy/bad loans was because they could SELL those loans to financial services companies. The mortgage company wasn’t going to be around to take the fall. It’s a pretty straightforward con game.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Weak government power, no regulatory capture, less powerful corps. It’s all fairly simple.

Unfortunately – no – that doesn’t work either.

Weak government=untrammellled exercise of corporate power – no NEED for regulatory capture if you can just trample down the rights of the little man directly.

If your answer was the right one then Somalia (really really weak government) would be a nice place – it isn’t.

Time for the old “man for all seasons” quote:

“This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?”

Sadly – the real answer is the hard one – get the government to regulate the corps – and use the democratic process to watch it like a hawk to make sure it obeys the people. It’s hard to do – and often goes wrong – but it is better than your alternative.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Somalia is just barely recovering from a long, drawn out civil war after toppling a totalitarian regime. There are still groups fighting for power. What do you expect it to look like right now?

I never said the government should be completely weak, only weak in the sense of regulating corporations. I’ll admit, I didn’t say it with those words, it was rather implied by the context. Mea Culpa for the miscommunication if there was any.

A government that has the power and will to regulate a group of people called corporations has the power and will to regulate a group of people called citizens. A society that won’t stop a corporation from taking power won’t stop a government from taking it either.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

What in the world are you blathering on and on about? To be a citizen is to accept the limits, duties, inconveniences and responsibilities imposed by the law of the land long with its freedoms. In other words, to be regulated. It is this acquiescence to the rule of law that enables a free society.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

I never said the government should be completely weak, only weak in the sense of regulating corporations.

I disagree strongly with this proposition.

My reasoning is easy: we may have an inadequate say in the exercising of government power, but we do have some amount of say. We have no say at all in how corporations exert their power. Without strong regulation, corporations have always, and will always, victimize us all.

to regulate a group of people called corporations

To call a corporation a “group of people” is misleading in the extreme. A corporation is a lot more than that. It is an independent legal entity, with powers and capabilities that no people have, and immune to most of the consequences that real people have.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Also, I should have mentioned, corporation are an invention of the government. They are chartered by the government, their powers are derived from the government, and so on. If the government shouldn’t regulate them, then it should get out of the corporation business altogether — at which point there is no such thing as a corporation. Problem solved.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

I’ll just reply to both of your comments here.

We have no say at all in how corporations exert their power

Corporations can only run for as long as they have money and power, power in this case is simply money. Stop giving them your money and their power runs out pretty fast. Sure if Apple got abusive they could last pretty long on their cash reserves, but to say you have no power over corps is to say that you have the same power over governments. A population that isn’t willing to let a government go hog wild will also not let a corporation go hog wild. Conversely, a population that will let a corporation get away with abuse is a population that will let it’s government get away with abuse.

To call a corporation a “group of people” is misleading in the extreme.

What can a corporation do that a group of individuals cannot?

Also, I should have mentioned, corporation are an invention of the government.

Then you should be in complete agreement that we only need a stronger government to regulate corps because the government gave corps power in the first place.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Stop giving them your money and their power runs out pretty fast.

Easier said than done. I have a list of corporations that I refuse to do business with — however it’s often impossible to know if I’m giving them money or not, let alone stop doing so.

Even things that should be straightforward aren’t. I don’t want to give Microsoft or Apple a dime, for example, because of their cretinous business practices. I don’t use or buy Microsoft or Apple products. But precisely because of their abusive business practices, they get my money anyway — just indirectly.

Once a corporation reaches a certain size, there is no effective way to stop paying them. On the other hand, there is always a way to affect government.

What can a corporation do that a group of individuals cannot?

Get away with major crimes and thefts, including murder, for starters.

Then you should be in complete agreement that we only need a stronger government to regulate corps because the government gave corps power in the first place.

It’s a strange way of phrasing it, but that’s a variant of what I said, yes. I just wouldn’t say it’s the only reason we need strong regulation.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

How is your money going to Microsoft or Apple without you paying them directly? The only way I can figure is through licensing, such as Microsoft’s threatening Android device makers for patent violations. If that is the case, then you have a government that created patent laws to blame.

Get away with major crimes and thefts, including murder, for starters

So the government that created corporations which limits liabiity is not to blame? If someone is committing murder, then why isn’t the government going after them? Are you suggesting we need to expand the FDA to regulate corp murders because that is somehow different than regular citizen murders? If they are committing major crimes, thefts and murders, and being a corp lets them get away with it, then get rid of corporations, which is a government created entity.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

A government that has the power and will to regulate a group of people called corporations has the power and will to regulate a group of people called citizens.

Start the sentence with “a group of people called government” and you will begin to understand where you are going wrong here.

The point is that, the difference between the “group of people called government” and the Group of people called corporations” is that the government structure allows for direct control irrespective of wealth – admittedly the citizenry doesn’t use it well but they can use it directly. You can, in principle, throw out the entire US government within 4 years. How long would it take to get rid of the board of Microsoft by people power???

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

You can only throw out the entire elected US government in 4 years. It would take a couple of elections to get rid of every bureaucrat in the government. Were you not aware that you don’t elect the members of the FDA, FTC, EPA, SEC, etc. They are making rules and regulations and yet they are not elected officials.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

If every iPhone buyer said they wouldn’t buy an iPhone 5 because of Apple’s abuse of patent law, and followed through with it, then Apple would drop every patent lawsuit they’ve ever filed and apologize profusely. If they didn’t, they’d survive on their cash reserves for a while, but they’d go away pretty quickly. But the citizens won’t do that, because they like their new shiny devices.

Those same citizens give congress the lowest approval ratings ever recorded and still reelect the same people. We have the same power to affect the government as we do corporations. It just requires the will to do so.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Those same citizens give congress the lowest approval ratings ever recorded and still reelect the same people. We have the same power to affect the government as we do corporations.

No – we have more power over the government.

SOPA was stopped by citizens threatening to withhold their votes – but the corporations go on lobbying. The corporations have the power (by colluding together) to remove your choice to take your business elsewhere.

Government may do a bad job of regulating corporations – but the solution is to try to get them to do a better job – not to give up.

Chosen Reject (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Who are they lobbying to? The government. Why are they doing it? Because the government hands out favors. Stop with the favors. What was SOPA about? Granting more favors to corps who have the money to lobby because the government granted them monopolies in the form of patents and copyrights.

Once again, we find that you are asking the government to regulate powerful corps that got powerful precisely because the government granted them powers, and they are abusing that power by asking the government for more powers.

CrushU says:

Re: Re: Re:3 "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Yeah, Corporations sure do make money from thin air. Surely don’t need any people to pay them or, say, ‘consume’ their products. Corporations generate money spontaneously and thus cannot be policed by the people who pay them for their services. Because those people cannot go anywhere else… legally.

JarHead says:

Re: Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

More government power, more regulatory capture, more powerful corps. Weak government power, no regulatory capture, less powerful corps. It’s all fairly simple.

Agree absolutely. It’s a no brainer. In fact, no government, no powerful corps. You’ve solved all the problems this site ever described, copyright and trademark abuse by the big player. Just shoot all those government types dead and Mike will go out of business, cos there’s no more abuse to blog about.

Down with the government!!!

/sarc

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

I find it a little creepy that I agree with most of your comment here, ootb.

Except…

But most of you seem to think corporatism is all to the good

We don’t seem to be reading the same site, as most of the people on the TD that I read clearly think no such thing, and…

can’t see the fundamentals of corporations. — They’re sheerly to legalize various forms of plunder and tyranny.

Although this is the purpose of many/most large corporations nowadays (perhaps always), the actual fundamental purpose of corporations is nothing like this at all. That the idea of corporations has been perverted doesn’t change their fundamental intended purpose, which is collective ownership.

Beech says:

Re: "If you didn't take the hint [fill in latest corporate policy]"

Congratulations, out_of_the_blue, on what I believe to be your least trollish comment to date!

That said, I think the government’s sole role in the economy should be to make sure there is as much competition as possible. If Amazon had a Pepsi/Coke rivalry going with another ebook retailer I bet they’d be a LOT more reluctant to pull this kind of crap.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

If nothing we buy is actually ours, why are we paying so much?

You can “buy” books from Amazon, and Amazon will take them back when they feel like it.

You can “buy” a movie from Amazon, and they can remove your ability to watch the movie at the behest of the copyright holder trying to prop up their business model.

Until we force the content cartels to accept that the world is actually interconnected and the old rules, systems, keeping things artificially separate and they need to adapt to it we will see more of this.

Amazon’s insane system combined with the insane rules and policies of the cartels leaves consumers screwed… and they wonder why people skip the craziness with a few clicks.

Anonymous Coward says:

“I’d further speculate that the policy violation that Linn stands accused of is using a friend’s UK address to buy Amazon UK English Kindle books from Norway. This is a symptom of Amazon’s — and every single other ebook retailer’s — hopelessness at managing “open territory” for ebooks.”

So, take the same logic to other areas, if I lose an arm, then go to some other country like Japan that sells replacement robotic arms unavailable in America, I’d be guilty of piracy for returning to the US with my robotic arm that I paid for and paid to get attached to me through a surgery in Japan.

Anonymous Coward says:

Nothing preaches turning pirate more than this example. Who exactly has the better model again? I don’t buy ebooks, don’t own a reader, and am not looking for one. Just the idea that any ebook you buy may one day disappear because Amazon got a case of the red a$$ isn’t a deal I want.

I view purchases as mine when I buy them. If they are not, then there’s no sense in buying it.

Mesonoxian Eve (profile) says:

I feel for this girl. While I didn’t have an issue with Amazon, the same approach was given to me by Equifax, who closed my account because *my name* matched another and we (get ready for this) lived in the same state.

Trying to deal with these companies is pointless. Amazon “wins” because it’s just one customer.

In time, they’ll have no one else to do this to because they’ll have rejected everyone from their services.

You just wait, as soon as people start writing reviews less than 1 star, they, too, will be kicked out of Amazon.

Anonymous Coward says:

update from Cory Doctorow's site

tweet from Simon Phipps

@doctorow I spoke with Linn and she told me Amazon did NOT wipe her Kindle; it was already broken. But she’s lost about 60 books.

So It may be that they did not wipe the Kindle, but she is unable to sync up her lost purchases from Amazon. Not a Kindle user, I take it there is not a was no way to back them up separately?

Anonymous Coward says:

Explain this to me. Weaker government = weaker corporations HOW exactly? Whats to stop a large corporation from excluding potential competition and doing whatever they fuck well please? Yes, stronger government means more problems from the government abusing it’s power, but swing too far in the other direction, and you’re open to abuse from private entities and have no recourse. It’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t. If you ever find the magical middle ground where your governments ability to abuse it’s power is limited and the ability of private entities (Corporations/people/godzilla) to abuse you is limited, please, by all means enlighten us.

As it stands, your entire argument is asking for something *MUCH* worse than we have now.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No it isn’t.

That aphorism is not a legal concept nor doctrine at law anywhere. In fact it was originally a simplified statement under English common law used to imply that the possessor of an object has the right to control that property without unlawful interference.

That “unlawful interference” is the MAIN phrase and means that the possessor is assumed to be more likely than not the rightful owner of said product unless it can be shown otherwise by legal means. Either via court (criminal or civil) or reasonableness/obviousness.

Also one other vein of thought says that the phrase can mean that if you are caught with an object in your possession that can be proven under law not to be owned by you then you are more than 90% likely to be convicted.

ChrisH (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Less literally, it means that actually finding and forcibly erasing backed-up media in someone’s home is so difficult that for most practical purposes, you do own them.

To me it also means that within the huge legal fog that is digital media rights, a party ought to act in their own best interest to the fullest extent practically possible. You can be sure that any media company interprets the law in their own interest, operating as close to the edge as possible and sometimes over (Sony rootkits).

Joe Wikert (user link) says:

Not about DRM...

DRM is bad but not the cause of this problem. This is really about the fact that we don’t own the ebooks we buy from Amazon. We’re simply issued a license for them. The more people start to realize that the more they’ll want to crack the DRM and create a backup copy of their purchases so this doesn’t happen to them.

Here’s a bit more of what I had to say about the situation: http://oreil.ly/WEc1uZ

Thomas (profile) says:

This is the biggest

problem with eBooks, especially Amazon and Kindle; your books can be taken away on the whim of some computer. I love the eBooks, but I’d never buy a Kindle. I only buy books that are cheap or borrow library books. If it’s an important book, I buy hardback. Amazon is going to have a very hard time getting a hardback book back unless they want to argue with 95 pounds of aggressive territorial dog plus a 9mm Glock. Amazon’s response shows how little they care about customers

loaderboy (profile) says:

You probably don't OWN .....

as much as you think. Everyone here is communicating through some kind of electronic device that is running software that is licensed in some way.
You most likely don’t own the OS you’re using, the software that you use to read your ebooks, almost any software on the computer that you use is licensed in some way. You gave up your rights when you hit the “accept” button.

loaderboy (profile) says:

Re: Re: You probably don't OWN .....

Even then you often agree to a public licence. The software may be free but if you want to copy, share, redistribute you agree to leave in all the bits that pertain to the original program, it’s licence and the original author/ programmer.
Same with pictures and music that are free, use it all you want, just give me credit.

ChrisH (profile) says:

Re: You probably don't OWN .....

gave up your rights when you hit the “accept” button

So it would follow that you had those rights (ownership) before you hit the “accept” button. Then what are you gaining by accepting? If nothing, then it’s not a valid agreement. That’s one of many reasons why an honest reading of the law says EULAs are bull#&*%, but the argument continues to be they must be enforceable or the economy will collapse and so judges enforce them, well many of them anyway.

Krolork says:

Going to download.

Amazon, because of your actions, I’m going to download the one thousand epub book collection on The Pirate Bay.

People wonder why I download illegally? Give me a way to buy it without strings, like this story, attached, and I will be more than willing to shell out the money. If you want to play games with me, I’ll download behind a VPN, and use a 512 bit AES encryption so you will never be able to prosecute me either.

I’ll be back later. I’m now getting my money’s worth of the internet.

Wally (profile) says:

Privacy

“Please understand that the closure of an account is a permanent action. Any subsequent accounts that are opened will be closed as well. Thank you for your understanding with our decision.”

This makes me severely conscerned about Amazon’s privacy policy. To my knowledge, and please correct me (in a non-longwinded fashion) if I’m wrong, the only way you can do this is by banning a user’s MAC Address. Unlike UDID’s, these can’t be edited.

John Weston says:

MS eReader BS as well

Similar problem with ms eReader. Each upgrade to a new computer required a new activation. MS said they provided an additional activation every 6 months. The start with six activations. One generation of upgrades of a pc, notebook, and ms os phone and that was it. The next new computer could not be activated and all my eReader books could not be uses becaused any more. No reply ever from Microsoft. Bitched at the web site I made all my purchase from and they unlocked them from MS’s grasp and I uses a new temp MS ID and then removed the DRM. The only way to keep control if your ebooks is to always remove the DRM. At least all my music is ripped from my own CDs or purchased DRM free from Amazon.

streetlight (profile) says:

Audible - the audio book company - is...

owned by Amazon. The same thing seems to happen with them as well. That is, you don’t “own” the audio books you pay for but only license the right to listen to them. It has been reported that books come and go from their list, so you could be in the middle of a book and if it shuts down, too bad. You’re supposed to be able to listen to your books whenever you want, but if the copyright holder decides, your listening ability may be suspended.

I get my books from the local library. I have never not been able to get a book I wanted to read. If they don’t have it they have a great inter library loan service. Ya, I know, I may have to wait if there is a queue, but I always have something to read if I want. My property tax to the local library district is about $60/year. My wife and I read far more than six books a year.

Wally (profile) says:

Apple

This article makes me glad that I own an iPod Touch with iBooks. I mean seriously, once you own an app audio file or movie from iTunes, you own it. No bullshit, no hassle. Apple quietly removed the DRM from their AAC music files back in 2009.

It’s simple as that, no bullshit, no hassle. I mean even in iBooks if some book they offered ends up becoming free they compensate you. Yup, “scumbag” Apple is definitely looking a lot better when you consider the bullshit everyone else makes you go through.

Jeroen Hellingman (profile) says:

Finally an easy way to close your Amazon account

A few years ago I tried to close my account with Amazon (after buying from them since 1998), as I never again want to have anything to do with them, but found it an extremely hard thing to do. So I ultimately changed all information in I could in the account, wiped all CC information, etc., then changed my name and email address to something weird, and finally got rid of it.

It would have been so much easier if they clearly advertised this way to get a life-long ban…

Phillip Lund says:

Freezing my ebook and audiobook accounts

I have 221 ebooks and approximately 95 audio books from Amazon (Audible). I “violated” the app restrictions of a ebook without understanding these limitations. Amazon froze the entire account without explanation. I did not understand and I had to go through my entire listing to find the cause and to gain an understanding of how Amazon permits downloading of books by book basis.
We changed our password for iTunes, where I had moved our audiobooks. Amazon froze the iTunes account until they given permission for the change in passwords. No notification or explanation. Amazon’s growing arrogance leaves me wondering-how can I move my books to another player?

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