Notes From Babel

Property Ownership Is Turning into a Very Fluid Concept

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Jack Balkin has this amusing story:

The New York Times reports that Amazon.com found out that the publisher of Kindle versions of George Orwell’s books 1984 and Animal Farm decided that it didn’t want to give the rights to a Kindle version. So Amazon.com used its wireless connection to each Kindle to delete copies on various owners’ Kindles and refunded their money. You see, because of the wireless connection, Amazon.com knows what books are on your Kindle and it can delete them or modify them at will.

Apparently, the irony of deleting a book about Big Brother watching you was lost on both the publisher and Amazon.com.

They’ve also assumed the role of the Ministry of Truth: You own a copy of 1984. You’ve never owned a copy of 1984.

What’s next? Is the RIAA going to somehow delete all the music I pirated before they browbeat everyone into believing it was “wrong”? (They trained me to stop downloading it, but I could never get back into the practice of paying for music again. My music collection abruptly ends around the turn of the millennium. Hence the reason I’ve prematurely begun referring to “what kids are listening to these days.”)

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Written by Tim Kowal

July 18, 2009 at 4:59 am

Posted in Miscellany

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