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Amazon Settles Kindle Digital Book Deletion for $150K

By Neetal Parekh | Last updated on

The homework has been turned in.   The book has been read.  An apology has been issued.  The amount has been negotiated.  And the matter is settled...for now. 

Plaintiffs-Michigan high school student Justin Gawronski and California resident Antoine Bruguier--settled their claims for violations of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, breach of contract, trespass of chattels, and conversion for Amazon's deletion of works including George Orwell's 1984 from their Kindle accounts.

The high-profile matter began in summer 2009, when Amazon deleted copies of the digital books from Kindle accounts after it realized it was selling unauthorized digital copies.  Though Amazon credited the accounts with the cost of the Kindle purchase, not all users were pacified.  Gawronski, a high school senior, claimed that his annotations of the classic were rendered virtually useless after the book was deleted from his account.  Amazon found itself in the tight spot between trying to do right by its content providers as well as by its consumers. 

Read below for the settlement in its entirety.  And if you're wondering what to look for, here are some notable stipulations from the Amazon-Gawronski settlement:

  • Amazon will pay $150,000, most of which will be directed to charities
  • Amazon agreed not to "remotely delete or modify" digital publications on Kindle devices, with a few exceptions.
  • Amazon can delete Kindle items if the removal is mandated by a court order and if deletion is required to stave off the spread of a computer virus
  • The Amazon non-deletion policy does not apply to 3rd party applications

Though the settlement doesn't offer any court guidance on murky issues of digital rights and online property, it at least closes this chapter for the parties involved.  Will there be a sequel?  In the age of technology meets law, its seems unlikely to avoid one. 

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