book theft

Back in August 2011. I wrote about my preference for real books over the emerging electronic version. In that post I noted that Amazon had famously deleted copies of Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm purchased by some customers. It now appears that Amazon has gone even further and deleted the entire contents of a Norwegian customer’s kindle. In Cory Doctorow’s post he points out that:

Reading without surveillance, publishing without after-the-fact censorship, owning books without having to account for your ongoing use of them: these are rights that are older than copyright. They predate publishing. They are fundamentals that every bookseller, every publisher, every distributor, every reader, should desire. They are foundational to a free press and to a free society.

Now I’d be pretty angry if someone sold me a book, but later stole that book back on the grounds that I had somehow infringed some sales condition buried in a contract I had implicitly (and forcedly) entered into by the act of purchase. But I would be absolutely livid if, in the act of stealing back “their” book, they also removed the rest of my library. Amazon, however, seems to find this acceptable.

Doctorow went on to say that encrypting storage on mobile devices was much preferable to the option of remote deletion in case of loss. I agree. Unfortunately I also agree with his view that users will have difficulty with password protected encrypted filesystems, and I am completely with him when he says:

If it’s a choice between paving the way for tyranny and risking the loss of your digital life at the press of a button by some deceived customer service rep, and having to remember a password, I think the password is the way to go. The former works better, but the latter fails better.

My own kindle only has the DRM free content I originally uploaded (over a USB connection) after my wife bought it for me. And the wifi is resolutely turned off. But I don’t know why I bothered, because I still haven’t used it, despite taking it on holiday. And now, like Adrian Short, I never will.

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    • Peter on 2012/10/26 at 10:00 am

    Amazon has restored it (even scarier – hack this and you could get anyone arrested for certain illegal content).

    They are not the first. Sony removed the “Other OS” option from its PS3 games console as part of an “up”grade after it was used to hack the system. Given that that was an advertised feature, it amounted to selling someone a car with nice alloys, and swapping them for standard steel rims on the next service.. But apparently that was acceptable.

    I have never bought a Sony branded device since..

    • Mick on 2012/10/26 at 11:48 am


    I agree – scary indeed. My kindle will remain disconnected from the network.

    (Incidentally, I have taken the liberty of editing your post. Forgive me. I changed the word “allows” to “alloys” since that is, I think, what you meant.)



    • Peter on 2012/10/27 at 8:40 pm

    Thanks for the edit – that is indeed correct. It’s a heads up that I have not yet rooted out every instance of auto-whatits in the OS and applications. I hate auto format and auto correct with a passion, so I’m going to digress here..

    Auto format because it applies formatting to rules that some marketeer has dreamt up (read: no practical value – I do not want to create a hotlink every time I have the audacity to mention something that could be construed as a URL). In that context I also would love “paste as text” (or “apply the same style”) as a default, dragging along formatting from a totally different part of a document has NEVER worked for me – ever – and has been the root cause of having to rescue documents from total collapse in especially Microsoft Word (ironically, the quickest way to rescue those is to load them in OpenOffice and clean it up). MS Word is very good in confusing itself, and if you work for an organisation whose IT department loves to create formatting macros, the seeds of deadline destruction have not just been sown, they have been thoroughly covered in supporting manure..

    Auto correct is the evil that has visited “teh” on us – by correcting what we type wrong, we store the wrong word in muscle memory and so become even more dependent on it (if this sounds like the desired outcome for a company mentioned somewhere you may be right – it certainly strikes me as the only plausible argument to have it). That it “corrects” (changes) words it doesn’t know to words stored in its limited database (typically just AFTER you commit your typing to a site or file) is not the biggest evil, its main crime is interrupting a creative train of tho.. [&/%£ it has just done it again]..

    Sadly, even OpenOffice seems to suffer the wrong defaults, and as the quest for loading more features on us has now made it part of most Operating Systems as well I have to spend more and more time killing it off.. I did file the desire to set a default for a text-only cut&paste as a feature request, but I reckon I’ll be old and grey before anyone pays attention.

    I think I’m going back to text files. After I kill off this stuff in the OS..


    • tanie do polski on 2012/11/13 at 7:56 am

    Thank You for this post. Just found it on google and i have to say that i;m really really surprised :)Thanks again and cheers dude!

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