Highlights from the ‘1984’ lawsuit against Amazon


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‘Kindling.’ Credit: oskay / Flickr

Justin Gawronski and Antoine J. Bruguier are suing Amazon for having deleted their copies of George Orwell books from their Kindle readers, sans permission. The potential class-action lawsuit claims harm inflicted on the parties for rendering their notes ‘useless’ -- causing some commentators to call it the ‘Kindle ate my homework’ case.


Here are a few highlighted quotes from the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle.

-- ‘[Plaintiffs] bring this class action complaint against defendants, Inc. and Amazon
Digital Services, Inc., ... for their wrongful practice of remotely deleting digital content from their customers’ Amazon Kindle electronic book (“e-book”) reading devices and Kindle for iPhone applications.’

-- ‘Amazon not only deleted the e-books,but also rendered useless any electronic notes and annotations that consumers had made within these e-books because the notes were no longer tied to the referenced or highlighted text. Amazon then refunded the purchase price to these consumers.’

-- ‘Amazon never disclosed ... that it possessed the technological ability or right to remotely delete digital content purchased through the Kindle Store from Kindles or iPhones.’

-- ‘As part of his studies of ‘1984,’ Mr. Gawronski had made copious notes in the
book. After Amazon remotely deleted ‘1984,’ those notes were rendered useless...

... because they no longer referenced the relevant parts of the book. The notes are still accessible on the Kindle 2 device in a file separate from the deleted book, but are of no value. For example, a note such as “remember this paragraph for your thesis” is useless if it does not actually reference a specific paragraph. By deleting ‘1984’ from Mr. Gawronski’s Kindle 2, this is the position in which Amazon left him. Mr. Gawronski now needs to recreate all of his studies.’

-- ‘On or about July 17, 2009, Mr. Bruguier contacted with the statement: ‘I would like to keep the title 1984. I like this book.’ On July 17, 2009 at 1:28 p.m., he received an email response to his comment from Customer Service, which stated in relevant part: “I understand that you’re upset, and I regret that we haven’t been able to address your concerns to your satisfaction. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to offer any additional insight or action on these matters.”


-- ‘[Suit alleges that] Amazon violated [The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act] by intentionally accessing Plaintiffs’ Kindles, protected computers, without authorization, and as a result, caused damage to Plaintiffs’ Kindles by remotely deleting content stored on them. ‘

-- ‘Amazon’s conduct has caused a loss to one or more persons during any one-year period aggregating at least $5,000 in value in real economic damages.’

-- ‘Amazon’s unlawful access to Plaintiffs’ Kindles and digital content has also caused Plaintiffs irreparable injury. Unless restrained and enjoined, Amazon will continue to commit such acts.’

-- David Sarno