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back to article Amazon quietly un-wipes remotely wiped Kindle

Never let it be said posting your woes on the internet doesn’t yield results. After Linn Nygaard allowed Norwegian blogger Martin Bekkelund to reveal that Amazon had not only wiped her Kindle without warning but had refused to explain precisely why it had done so, the online retail giant has grudgingly relented and re-instated …

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Restored?

I think the lady deserves an apology AND some free store credit.

Simply restoring what was is a bit nasty.

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Unhappy

Re: Restored?

Rumour has it (I think in a Grauniad story) was that she had linked her Kindle to an amazon.co.uk account. Unfortunately the law is still on the side of publishers in terms of protecting territory-based distribution models and so purchasing some titles from a .no IP address is likely to tread on some toes.

There's possibly some interesting convolutions that are possible, but as it stands Occam's Razor will probably rule in Amazon's favour in terms of obeying the letter of the law and their T&Cs.

To fix this, the law needs to change in copyright to remove the ability to protect distribution territories when it comes to digital media (with no physical media involved).

It would be interesting if the lady in Norway could demonstrate that the purchases were made from a UK IP address, though.

It's a shitty situation, either way.

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Re: Restored?

It was Cory Doctorow that speculated this (curse the lack of ability to edit a post)

http://boingboing.net/2012/10/22/kindle-user-claims-amazon-dele.html

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Re: Restored?

"....she had linked her Kindle to an amazon.co.uk account."

Hmm. Sounds like a quiet word in the shell-like of Michel Barnier (The EU commissioner for the Single Market) would be in order.

I don't quite see where you're getting "obeying the letter of the law" from. "Free movement of goods and services" would suggest the exact opposite.

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Re: Restored?

I think publishers/distributors of copyright material are still able to carve up territories legally, even if physical sales are protected. I could be wrong, but the publishers are still signing contracts giving them exclusive sales rights in different countries - I would've thought they'd have had a slap by now if it was illegal.

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Re: Restored?

Norway is not in the EU

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Re: Restored?

...but Norway is in the Single Market (except for agriculture and fisheries).

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Happy

Re: Restored?

...but Norway is in the EEA being an EFTA member. There fixed it for you.

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dak
FAIL

Re: Restored?

Norway isn't in the EU.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Restored?

we have some Norwegian workers here at the European Commission, Oops Disclaimer required under the terms and conditions of use of the Internet and electronic mail from European Commission equipment: "The views expressed are purely those of the writer and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission." We recruited a few inbetween the two votes that Norway had on directly joining the EU. AFAIK, ."NO" might have actually implemented more acquis than some of the other actual 27 members.... back to lurking again...

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This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Re: (curse the lack of ability to edit a post)

Delete the original and post it again?

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Headmaster

@JetSetJim "....purchasing some titles from a .no IP address...." I don't think it is that.

I have lived in Norway since 1998 and I had no difficultly either purchasing a Kindle from the UK site giving my home address in Norway as the delivery and billing address or in purchasing content (using plastic issued by a Norwegian bank) ever since. As far a their regional policy goes it appears to depend on the product. I was recently browsing the Kindle store at their US site from a Norwegian IP address and attempted to purchase a Kindle book from that site. They simply directed to make the purchase at the UK site instead so the issue of purchases coming from Norway does not in itself appear to be a problem for them. What the hell they are actually playing at in this particular instance is, I have to say, very peculiar.

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Anonymous Coward

Ebooks

Ebooks a great thing.

But Amazon less so, get ripped off over the price, pay VAT @ 20%,authors and publishers get shafted, Amazon do well, but don't pay much in the way of Tax in the U.K., get your books removed without any explanation, explain to me why Amazon is a good thing?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: explain to me why Amazon is a good thing

They're quite good when it comes to mail order. Trickier for them to steal stuff back...

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Anonymous Coward

Never buy a Kindle, then.

Same applies to Apple products.

They can remotely wipe anyting they dont like, on a product you PAID FOR.

Scary ? Understatement. Oh the Irony of 1984 Geroge ORweel classic, which they had to wipe out too!

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Stop

Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

Hmm, you mention Apple, but the thing is, Apple have never done this (to my knowledge). Amazon have, and now more than once. You have to wonder how many other times they've done this to other people who haven't gotten to the point of complaining to a blogger etc.

I don't fully trust any of these companies (I'm thinking Amazon, Apple, Google etc) but for me, Amazon are the ones that have so far proven themselves to be the least trustworthy through their real-world actions.

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Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

No, don't by *anything*. Google can remote wipe apps off smartphones and tablets and, I believe, has done so. Someone else can dig out the Reg story on it. RIM has the ability, and I bet M$ does with WinPho.

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FAIL

Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

Another AC confusing Google and Apple again...

You see, Google are the ones wh have been routinely remotely removing apps - they deem "useless" - from people's devices since 2010:

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/google_activates_android_kill_switch_zaps_useless_apps.php

Apple, although longer in the mobile game, has yet to use their kill switch. You can even check it here:

https://iphone-services.apple.com/clbl/unauthorizedApps

It's still empty.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

Perhaps not yet, but soon...

http://mashable.com/2010/08/22/apple-jailbreaking-patent/

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Devil

Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

But with Apple your stuff does not come with DRM (as opposed to Kindle).

:-)

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FAIL

Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

Apple have wiped Apps.

In the early days of the App store I bought a wireless hotspot finding app for my 1st Gen Touch (it tested which were open). After a few months Apple decided this type of App was against their policies and they deleted it. They didn't tell me of course, but I found out when I contacted the author.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Never buy a Kindle, then.

"Apple, although longer in the mobile game, has yet to use their kill switch."

Isn't the mere existence of one disturbing enough?

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Pirate

May I recommend she looks into calibre and certain useful plugins...

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Devil

Calibre

I agree with you in principle. Once you discover all your DRM purchases are just rentals, Calibre is a good way to get out of your abusive relationship with Amazon.

However, I wouldn't recommend using it for on going purchases as I know some people do. Amazon are still getting the money and have no reason to believe releasing DRM free "any ebook reader" titles is of any benefit to them.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Calibre

"However, I wouldn't recommend using it for on going purchases as I know some people do"

Especially as from other articles it is believed this persons account was originally killed because Amazon decided she was linked with another account that had been killed due to DRM circumvention

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Unhappy

Bar Stewards

How do companies get so arrogant that they feel they can ride rough-shod over all user rights?

Why are the politicians (who are supposed to represent us) doing nothing about this?

Oh, yeah. Right.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bar Stewards

"Why are the politicians (who are supposed to represent us) doing nothing about this?"

Brown DRM free envelopes stuffed with untraceable cash that is handed to them after a strange looking handshake by some bloke with his left trouser leg tucked into his sock,

...that’s why....

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Wonder what a court would think

If this ended up in court, I wonder what the outcome would be. I'm leaning towards Amazon being given a slapping by the judge as their terms and conditions are ridiculous and many of the clauses would be classed as unenforceable and illegal... IMO

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wonder what a court would think

I doubt it.....

because the judge would have been the recipient of a similar DRM free brown envelope stuffed with cash, with asimilar handshake to the politician as in my previous AC post, but this time, his right trouser leg will be tucked into his sock.....

AC, because I don’t want to loose my job delivering brown envelopes. !!

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Not really unusual

I have seen similar things happen with other service providers. The root cause was a cancelled credit card which triggered an automatic flagging of the account as being used fraudulently. The card was actually legit, but had been cancelled for other reasons - however it was pretty easy to see why the provider would put two and two together and assume that the card had been stolen and later cancelled by the rightful owner. The next step was less sensible. They then looked in their database and decided that some other accounts that were apparently linked (by IP address) were also therefore fraudulent, and cancelled the lot. Took ages to sort out.

If it is something like this Amazon will not be forthcoming with an explanation as it might reveal something about their internal fraud detection policies. Even of the rules a stupid, they won't reveal them.

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Anonymous Coward

Service lock-in

Credit cards themselves are fairly dodgy, and only become more dodgy as time progresses. For starters, the credit rating system on which they rely is one where multiple companies keep personal data and rate it (the essence of a behind-your-back operation, in multiple possibly-but-maybe-not independent instances, and they'll never tell you all of where they get their data), and to rate well you have to have built up a good credit rating previously. You can't have bad credit to rate for credit, but you can't have had no credit either. Bit of a chicken-and-egg problem there. All you can do about it is "work with them" and dance like a good little consumer puppet.

Then there's the minor problem of the cc system being so open for abuse, literally the only real backing of any substance is their guarantee to pay back should anything be amiss (and you pay for that in their hefty fees and interest rates) that there's a complete circus of industry regulations and best practices and whatnots that ensure pretty much very little except costs incurred to comply, and they call that "due diligence".

Resulting in situations where a simple cancellation of service is proof of fraud to be acted upon "just in case". With, apparently, collateral damage to only seemingly-related other consumer sheep.

Tangentially, the similes between operations such as this and security theatres like the TSA's and their lists of badness are eerie.

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Even if the rules are stupid?

I think that should be "especially if the rules are stupid"!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Service lock-in

I once had a run-in about credit card authorisation with Amazon. I was trying to buy a video camera from them with a value of around £300.

I got an email seemingly from them to say that they wanted me to fax a copy of my passport to some telephone number. The email was badly written and looked like it could have been some phishing attempt of some sort.

I rang them up to verify things and got completely stonewalled. When I enquired as to why they wanted to see a copy of my passport when I was buying physical goods and they could surely confirm my address with the card company all I got was a rude response along the lines of "if you don't like it buy elsewhere", so that's what I did.

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Big Brother

So the question is....

How many other Kindle owners out there have had their collection wiped by Amazon and not been fortunate enough to garner any kind of attention in the press to force Amazon to change their minds?

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Stop

Think I'm gonna stick to paperbacks for now

Old fashioned, but you know where you stand.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Think I'm gonna stick to paperbacks for now

The trick there is download the DRM-free version of the ebook from some alternative, non-paying distribution channel, load it onto your non-Kindle ebook reader and enjoy. Once finished, go back to amazon, buy the paperback version of the book (typically cheaper than the ebook, even including postage) and then give it away to friend, family or charity shop as you see fit. More people benefit, the author isn't ripped off (any more than they were in the past) and neither are you. That's what I've heard that some people do, anyway.

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WTF?

Strange that it's books only.

Amazon sells tons of MP3s that are DRM free. They are watermarked though. Too bad they can't do the same with books.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Strange that it's books only.

But you can watermark a book. BT used to (may still) put made up numbers in their phone book. So finding one of the made up numbers in a supect phone number database would quickly identify BT as the source. Similarly with eBooks, (this is probably too simple to be the way they do it) as delivered introduce deliberate spelling mistakes at any one of sixty four (say) points in the book. The lack of, or existance of, the mistake taken as binary number by position would uniquely identify that copy. Better still varry the number of spaces between words at particular points, or the font of one charater here or there. Sure they can all be stipped out but you need to know what you're looking for.

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Bah!

Please stop appending that 1984 story in full to every article like this. Hyperlink to the original article in time-honoured Reg fashion so the full nature of the outrage- which had little to do with the temporary loss of the texts themselves and everything to do with the feature enrichment of the e-book world - can be appreciated.

High-handed behaviour in cloudy bizzes isn't rare and you already made your point about repeat offending after acknowledgement of poor technique two articles ago (the legality of what was done 1984-wise was sound, the resolution was just clumsy and a public relations gaffe).

Before you all pile on, I own a Kindle and do business with Amazon too. I have a vested interest in the outcome of such cases.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bah!

So, are you telling us it's OK because everybody else is doing it ? And being prevented access to culture is what you call a feature ?

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Coat

User Rights and Facts

Everyone moaning about companies trampling over user rights should check the license information printed inside the front cover - on within the first few pages - of the dead tree editions of books that they "own".

"All rights reserved."

The only thing you "own" with a dead-tree edition is the dead tree itself. The words printed on the dead tree don't belong to you. You cannot even legally give the dead tree to somebody else whilst it has those words printed on it.

What ebooks - and digital works in general - allow is for companies to enforce the rights that they ALWAYS HAD far more effectively than they ever previously could. This means not trampling on user rights, but preventing users from trampling on the copyright owner's rights.

If publishers had been able to build in "kill switches" to the dead tree editions of their books to enable them to enforce their rights in those editions, believe me, they would have, and none of this would be news or even newsworthy.

In the case of this Kindle, I read that the Kindle wasn't wiped at all, only that the account was closed and thus - thanks to the DRM - denying access to the content that was STILL ON THE KINDLE. Which is how and why when that account was reinstated, access was once more obtained and thus the user was able to detect that their account was active once more.

For one thing, why would the user still even be using their Kindle if it had been "wiped" ? For another, contrary to popular myth it is possible to have non-DRM protected content on a Kindle - I have some myself. Amazon even provide some very slick software to facilitate this.

The one with 600 technical reference books in the pocket. On my Kindle Touch. :)

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Flame

Re: User Rights and Facts

You wrote a very long piece but didn't give us the most important information which would be a link to a resource that backs up your assertion that "all rights reserved" has the meaning you attribute to it.

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Re: User Rights and Facts

> companies to enforce the rights that they ALWAYS HAD

No - the 'rights' they always claimed, but which courts repeatedly denied (otherwise there'd be no libraries, would there?)

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Re: User Rights and Facts

"You cannot even legally give the dead tree to somebody else whilst it has those words printed on it".

So according to you, it's illegal to give a book you have bought to another person as a present? That would be why Amazon offers gift wrapping and alternate addresses for exactly that scenario.

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Re: User Rights and Facts

It means what it says... ALL rights reserved. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_rights_reserved

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Re: User Rights and Facts

Libraries are granted additional/different rights in the agreements made between themselves and the copyright holder, in exactly the same way that movie rental stores have the right to lend - but not to sell - the movies on their shelves.

A movie rental store cannot sell the movies they purchase for the purposes of rental. Equally it is a violation of your license if you operate a lending library for DVD's using DVD's purchased for private, home exhibition only.

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Mushroom

Re: User Rights and Facts

No, it's not illegal but it is a violation of the license conditions under which the book is sold.

All rights RESERVED, does not mean "All rights WITHELD". Gifting has always been an accepted part of the dead tree market. But passing on second hand books to people not as gifts is not. In practice, distinguishing between the two different modes of distribution isn't worth the effort of enforcement, but strictly speaking re-sale at zero cost is not gifting and is an unauthorised distribution.

It is - of course - an unenforceable restriction.

That was the whole point of my post - copyright holders rights were previously unenforceable, but that does NOT mean that those rights did not exist and weren't being violated.

People break the speed limits every day... does that mean that speed limits don't exist ?

Of course not.

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Vic
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Re: User Rights and Facts

> A movie rental store cannot sell the movies they purchase for the purposes of rental

They can, and they do. i have many such DVDs...

Vic.

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Vic
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Re: User Rights and Facts

> But passing on second hand books to people not as gifts is not

Yes it is. It's codified in most jurisdictions under names like "First Sale Doctrine".

Publishers might want such rights to go away, but they do not have the ability to remove them, even if they do say "all rights reserved"; in truth, they are only reserving those rights they already had, and the ability to prevent someone selling his own possessions is not amongst that list.

vic.

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