While the questions surrounding Digital Rights are many…
What Amazon did, by removing Kindle books that were sold fraudulently by a third party… who by the way… had no right to sell them in the first place, and refunding/crediting the purchasers accounts, was the right thing to do.
… but e-Publishers like Amazon and others who allow customers to publish content unsupervised and unchecked are asking for this kind of problem and more.
We’ve already seen instances of books that are in the Public Domain copied from sources such as Project Gutenberg and offered for sale under names other than the original authors.
Copies of e-books that are still in print have been found, likewise hijacked. The authors name and cover graphics were changed and the book fraudulently offered for sale on another ‘self-publishing’ site. Thankfully they were not smart enough to change the ISBN numbers nor the authors introduction and a few other important identifiers.
In both cases the content was removed from the sites and the ‘author’ prosecuted, but sadly this kind of fraud-in-the-name-of-greed will no doubt continue until some sort of submission review process is instituted to prevent unauthorised sales such as what occurred with the two George Orwell books.
I had a good laugh at what Lauren Weinstein, a privacy advocate, had to say on the subject.
"This is precisely the functional equivalent of Barnes & Noble — or Amazon itself for that matter — using a crowbar or lock pick to break into your home or business, then stealing back a previous physical book purchase, replacing it with the equivalent value in cash."
No… this is not the same thing at all. Electronic Digital Rights licensing is complicated.
So.. if you’re too lazy or can’t be bothered to actually read the licenses and the disclaimers that come with devices like the Kindle, or the terms and conditions of purchase you’ve agreed to when you purchase digital content… maybe you shouldn’t buy them in the first place.
… and just for the record? There’s nothing really new in any of this. Ask anyone who has tried to register or get customer support for pirated copies of licensed software and found it ‘removed’ from or ‘disabled’ on their computers.
Software authors don’t sell their ‘source rights’ to customers who buy a copy any more than book authors give away their copyright rights when someone buys a copy of a book… be it on paper or in electronic format.