Amazon undownloads 1984 and sets Orwell free

Originally published August 4th, 2009

Amazon Kindle with Big Brother is Watching You graphic There’s something very satisfying about the news that Amazon can delete books people download to their Kindle readers. Books contain ideas and sometimes lies or so-called “fiction,” and so people can be led into commiting thoughtcrimes without knowing it, all by books.

So when George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984 were recalled by the Amazon mothership, I felt a little lighter in the head which felt good. These people who downloaded those Orwell books thought they owned them, which is bad enough for electrons. Like how can you own electrons, and anyway if anyone owns Orwell’s electrons it’s Amazon. Only it turns out not, because Amazon was playing broker for which sold the Orwell books to Amazon Kindle customers. Well, it turns out that didn’t own the Orwell electrons either! So Amazon did what it could, which was to undownload the books back up to the cloud. And this cloud won’t rain again until 2044 when the copyrights expire. So Kindle people, you can just unbuy these books and you’ll be fine until then. In fact you don’t need to move a mouse-button muscle because Amazon has already unclicked those purchases.

There were complaints that some Kindle people added annotations to their copies of the Orwell books, and when the books got upscotched back to the Cloud, so did those annotations. Let’s set aside the fact that adding notes to books is like adding extra notes to a symphony. Folks, you’re messing it up for the rest of us!┬áBut OK, you added notes to “your” books on “your” Kindle and now they’re gone. Got any proof? Good luck with that one in court!

So let’s just say there’s a Kindle-sized memory hole that sucks up unauthorized electrons, and let it go. The ideas they’re protecting you from might be your own. Or as George Orwell himself would say, “Ignorance is Strength.”

Metadata sans Media

Originally published March 23, 2008

YouTube video screen with error message saying This video is no longer availableAnd here we have a friendly way of explaining that the video you wanted to see is no longer available. We all know that copyright is important, because it protects (in this case) Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., who otherwise would have been injured by people hearing the music that was part of this video. If people hear the music as part of this video, they will no longer go out and purchase that particular music because their need to hear it will have been fulfilled. People only want to hear this particular piece of music once, so this video is just like removing the product from the shelves. If you were allowed to see this video, you would never buy the music. Now that the video has been removed from YouTube, you won’t even know which music it included, so now you will buy that music. Shop on!