High School Student Sues Amazon For Deleting His Summer Homework?

from the pr-nightmare dept

Well, you just knew that there were going to be class action lawsuits filed over Amazon's decision to delete unauthorized George Orwell ebooks that had been sold for the Kindle, but it appears that the class action lawyers have found the most headline-worthy story to get the word out. As we mentioned in the original post on this story, at least one kid lost the notes he had been taking on one of the books. So, we get a story about how a high school student is suing Amazon for deleting his summer homework, and the lawyers are hoping to turn it into a class action.

As bad as Amazon's actions were, I can't see this lawsuit getting very far. For most Kindle users, they're going to have a hard time showing any sort of real "harm." The kid with the lost homework might be able to show some (small) amount of harm, but I have to imagine that Amazon is mostly protected from liability in such cases. Still, with Amazon being quick to apologize and swear it would never ever ever delete an ebook again, you have to wonder if Amazon will step up and just try to appease the kid (and get the lawyers to go away).

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jack Milterdawn, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 2:29am

    I smell money.... appeasing the kid with $50,000 should do the trick...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 4:12am

    Fawk Amazon, thats what they get for not thinking about what they did before they did it. I hope this kid wins every penny!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    CleverName, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 5:21am

    Seems a bit silly

    I doubt it is was the kids idea to sue, and even if there is an award will the kid see any of it?

    Why were the notes being saved in an ebook? That does not sound like a good idea. Is there a method for backup?

    It's highschool homework, how long would it take to recreate it? And how much is the kids time worth?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:10am

    High school homework can take tens of hours. It depends on the exact assignment and the teacher but "reading the book and taking notes" can range from "Read the book and jot down obvious things like plot details and character names" to "read the book analytically and take notes on the underlying metaphors presented as well as the use of [literary device] to illustrate [subject matter]". Given the type of work done, I'd say it's worth about $20/hr.

    Now, Amazon may have had the right to delete the ebook. But they most certainly did not have the rights to delete any notes from anyone's kindle. The notes are content created BY THE OWNER OF THE KINDLE and belong to the same. The fact that they deleted the notes on everyone's kindle is completely absurd.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    known coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:34am

    I think amazon would be liable

    THe notes were the kids, not amazons. Amazon destroied his work, they should pay for it. It is not appeasement, they are liable. Though i can not see how the damage award would be very high. As an anonymous coward mentioned High schooler's hours generally are not that expensive. They should make a small offer with an apology and bascily say sorry here is 600 bucks now go away. (assuming 15 hours at 20 bucks and hour and doubling it for their own stupidity).

    The kid gets his 15 minutes of fame as the High schooler who beat amazon, Amazon is seen as doing the right thing by the kid, and we all forget about it when Obama's next birth certificate crises comes along.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. icon
    Ima Fish (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 6:37am

    "The kid with the lost homework might be able to show some (small) amount of harm..."

    And that's exactly the type of harm class action suits are designed for. A whole class of people who were screwed a little bit.

    "but I have to imagine that Amazon is mostly protected from liability in such cases."

    I imagine about myself and Zooey Deschanel, but that and five cents only gets me a nickle.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    J Armistead, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 7:29am

    Class Action

    I think the idea behind the class action is to aggregate a number of persons who have suffered small amounts of individual harm. This aggregation of claims makes the suit more economically feasible for a lawyer, and often suits like this can alter corporate behavior and policy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 31st, 2009 @ 10:33am

    His notes were his and should not have been deleted when the book was withdrawn. He may not now have time to recreate them before the assignment is due. He could lose a semester or a year for this one course.
    If you are a year later getting into your career, you start at about the same salary but you lose a year at the end. If you are a high priced AIG executive that one year could be worth hundreds of millions in today's dollars.

    I have had too many computers crash at inconvenient times (is there ever a convenient time?) to trust e-notes, so I recommend that if your work matters, get a pencil and a notebook.

    This was not an accident though--not an unexpected failure. This was willful.
    If I bought a book at Borders and used a $1000 bill as a bookmark, could they by refunding my purchase price come to my house, confiscate the book, and take the bookmark too?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    Murdock (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 10:33am

    Might not get money, but he should win

    2 things are in his favor:
    1. The Amazon Kindle ToS specifically state they will not delete items, they clearly violated this.
    2. They promote the fact that all your notes, annotations, bookmarks, etc are saved to their "cloud" and therefore safe and backed up. Obviously their actions violated one of the key selling points, that's almost like bait and switch.
    "All your data is safe* in the cloud"

    "*Except that date we willfully choose to delete"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Norm (profile), Jul 31st, 2009 @ 10:43am

    The stuents notes were NOT deleted.

    I just read the summary for this story on Slashdot, which says that the students notes were NOT deleted. From the complaint (PDF) itself:
    The notes are still accessible on the Kindle 2 device in a file separate from the deleted book, but are of no value. For example, a note such as "remember this paragraph for your thesis" is useless if it does not actually a reference a specific paragraph.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Amanda, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 9:10pm


    I am Justins cousin and he isnt in it for the money at all..any money that comes out of all this is going to charity. He is a good kid and didnt plan for it to go this far it was just all a blog until the lawyer saw it. please dont make judgements on people. not everyone is out for money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Cousin, Aug 4th, 2009 @ 9:18pm


    2. He spent hours upon hours doing this report for his senior year AP class
    3. Yes, his notes were saved but are not useful so all his hard work went down the drain and he is limited on time to come up with a whole new report for his class.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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