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Copyright (c) 2011 Virginia Law Review Association
Virginia Law Review

NOTE: REMOTE DELETION TECHNOLOGY, LICENSE AGREEMENTS, AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF COPYRIGHTED WORKS

September, 2011

Virginia Law Review

97 Va. L. Rev. 1223

Author

Joseph E. Van Tassel*

Excerpt



Introduction
 
IN July 2009, Amazon Kindle users who had purchased and downloaded a particular version of George Orwell's novel 1984 discovered that this e-book had been remotely deleted from their devices. 1 Amazon claimed it was protecting the intellectual property of the rights holders because the copies were improperly added to the Kindle Store by individuals that did not have distribution rights to the novel. 2 The company refunded the purchase price of the book, but at first end-users had no opportunity to refuse the refund and retain their copies of the e-book. The recall was instantaneous and complete.

Customers expressed anger and surprise about Amazon's action. 3 Two Kindle owners even filed a class-action lawsuit seeking injunctive relief that would prevent Amazon from deleting content from Kindles in the future and seeking damages for those who lost work from the incident. 4 Technology columnist David Pogue also found the incident unsettling, calling it "Big Brotherish" and "scary." 5 He also repeated the comment of a reader who likened the incident to "Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we've been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table." 6

This incident illustrates a new development in the business of distributing copyrighted works - the possibility of remote deletion. Remote deletion describes the ability of a distributor to wirelessly remove content from a consumer's possession without that consumer's consent at the time the ...
 
 
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