Monday, August 3, 2009

Why the Kindle suit is good and bad for everyone...

Amazon has been named in a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of all Kindle owners for deleting some copies of 1984 from some accounts and Kindles. Amazon believes it had a duty to the publisher to remove stolen property from its customers' Kindles in order to keep them from going to jail for receiving that stolen property. But because some people like to spend time in jail, they're suing Amazon for all the fun they missed.

Or at least that's how I see it.

If you know me, you know that I hate the digital world. I'd like to go back to the days when I rode my bike over to my friend's house and he showed me things that he got for his birthday and we played with them or smashed them with a hammer. And the mailman brought us letters once a day. And the news came on at 6:00 and I didn't know a damn thing about the world until then.

I don't want to look at pictures of crap on Flickr or videos on YouTube. I don't want 5GB of email storage. I don't want to know everything as soon as it happens. I want life here, in my hands, so I can smash it with a hammer if I want to.

The Kindle suit is bad because Amazon was doing the right thing by its partner, the publisher and rights-holder to George Orwell's 1984. Amazon had unwittingly become a party to distributing stolen property when it allowed Kindle owners to purchase an item Amazon did not have the right to sell.

Amazon doesn't own the books it sells; the only thing Amazon really has any control over is the Kindle itself, the ebook reader, the hunk of plastic. And hammer-blow recipient.

I guess Amazon could have gotten a court order first, since, again, we're dealing with stolen property (IMO-IANAL-!!!-WTF-LOL, okay, forget it). But then hundreds of Amazon customers might have ended up in some criminal database only to have their children removed from their homes by the authorities.

But what makes this suit a good thing, is that I hate the digital world. I don't think any company has any right to tell me what I can do with my stuff. I don't like digital rights or copy limits or download restrictions. I don't want to go home to find that I'm locked out from all the shows on my DVR because some company has the power to limit how long I have to enjoy a television show. I don't want Microsoft to tell me that my installed Office suite is not a legal copy, and I don't want them to even have the power to look.

So if this suit forces companies to rethink their digital business models, then great. But to punish Amazon for taking advantage of people too stupid to understand how digital technology works, then that's just wrong. America is built on extracting fortunes from the stupid.

Why is it that I'm smart enough to understand how digital technology works, but they aren't. And look at me! I'm wearing a bib to eat! And I still got food all over myself. I'd have more to say about this, but my lunch break is over, and I think I got tuna in my hair.