WSJ: Amazon Pays $150,000 in Kindle Copyright Aftermath Settlement

There's no more heinous a crime than a publisher who violates copyright law. It eats into the core of the enterprise mission of the firm and undermines the single essential relationship in the industry.

Unless... the publisher violates copyright and then, in trying to remedy the violation, destroys its clients' personal property.

Hard to imagine how this could happen except that it can in the strange world of Amazon's Kindle machine. From 10/1 -
Amazon Pays for Eating Student’s Homework

Amazon.com has settled a lawsuit with Justin D. Gawronski, a Michigan high school senior, whose copy of George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty-Four” was deleted from his Kindle in July.

Gawronski claimed that when Amazon wirelessly deleted the book, it also got rid of notes he had taken on the device about the book, which he needed for a homework assignment.

In the settlement first dug up by the Seattle blog TechFlash, Amazon agreed that it would not “remotely delete or modify” digital books, magazines or newspapers on Kindles (with a few exceptions). Amazon also paid Gawronski’s law firm $150,000, with the stipulation that the money be donated to charity.

Amazon didn’t respond to a request for comment, but its CEO Jeff Bezos has apologized publicly for the incident.

Gawronski’s lawyer, Jay Edelson, says Amazon did “a lot of aggressive negotiating” to reach the settlement. “It is one thing for a CEO to go out and say we will never do it again. It is more serious when it is in a legal document and it establishes legal rights,” he said.

The settlement says that Amazon can still delete content from Kindles if they get a judicial order and if they need to stop a computer virus. The promise also doesn’t apply to third-party apps (which, as of yet, aren’t sold on the Kindle), or prevent the process by which “transient” content such as blogs and newspapers are replaced with newer content.

As for Gawronski, he only got a small payout. Several weeks ago, Amazon offered all of the people who lost the book to have it redelivered or given a $30 gift certificate. Gawronski chose the $30, according to his lawyers, because he had already re-started and completed his “Nineteen Eighty-Four” assignment.

Getting rich was never his client’s goal, Edelson said. “He was just interested in setting precedent in this new area of the law.”

No comments: