News & Views
Did you think you owned your e-book?

In 2009 a copyright problem led to Amazon remotely deleting copies of “Animal Farm” and “1984”, two books by George Orwell, from thousands of Kindles. It may come as a surprise to many readers that this sort of thing is even possible. After all, a high-street bookseller would not spontaneously remove paperbacks from a customer’s home, whatever infractions they may have committed. But, unlike with paper books, customers do not actually “own” the e-books they buy. Instead, they are licensed to the purchaser. Customers cannot resell them and there are restrictions on lending them. The transaction is more like renting access to a book than owning one outright. And e-book sellers have the capability to take them back without warning. So, did you know that you do not really own your e-books?

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