What do you really own when it comes to technology and buying ebooks?
Do you own ebooks you buy?
Well, from the story about a Kindle owner having her Kindle wiped clean by Amazon and her account closed, it would seem the answer is that you do not own ebooks.
The disturbing part of the story is that Amazon didn’t explain why it did this, other than that it was for unspecified violations of its terms of service.
You only rent ebooks
Buying ebooks clearly means that you do not own them.
The example of the wiped Kindle makes it clear that when you buy an ebook from Amazon, you don’t really buy it.
You only borrow it or rent it.
I double-checked to make sure.
And yes, when you select an ebook from the Amazon Kindle Store, it says, ‘Buy Now With 1-Click‘.
Well, that can’t be true.
Anything that you buy that can be taken back from you without warning is not bought or purchased.
Yes, it might say, buy an ebook with one click.
But it would be better to say, rent this ebook with one click.
But only for as long as Amazon agrees you can keep it.
I don’t want to go into the ins and outs of this particular case of a wiped Kindle.
But it makes one wonder what we own and what we don’t when it comes to technology.
I have two iPads and use one for work and one at home.
Could they be wiped remotely if I unwittingly break Apple’s Terms of Service?
Perhaps this could be the case with the programs I have purchased for my laptop.
The real problem, as I see it is with the Terms of Service agreements, which we never read before agreeing to, right?
Then even if we actually read them and agree, the agreements can be changed at any time without notice.
You always agree
It was more than likely updated again this week.
Of course, you are never notified about these updates.
So good luck in knowing if you are breaking the (new) rules.
The most telling line in this agreement is this one:
Changes to Service. We may modify, suspend, or discontinue the Service, in whole or in part, at any time.
So have fun reading your borrowed Kindle ebooks.
While Amazon lets you.
I’m off to grab my fully-owned paperback copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. It’s a bit tattered, but it’s mine.
As an addendum to this, it is also worthwhile noting that if you self-publish through any of the online providers or distributors, you will usually find this same Changes to Service clause referring to the publication of the ebooks or POD books you have published.
They may modify, suspend, or discontinue the Service, in whole or in part, at any time.
But, of course, you read all of the conditions, didn’t you?
Related Reading: How You Can Lose All The Ebooks You Purchased Because Of DRM