Forget the old “The dog ate my homework” excuse, Seattle resident Justin Gawronski can now use a unique “My kindle ate my homework” story and it would actually be 100% true. In a lawsuit files in the Seattle court system Mr. Gawronski has filed a class action case against Amazon. In his case the prosecution claims that the company illegally accessed the plaintiffs Amazon Kindle and then proceeded to delete his copy of 1984 without a proper terms of service agreement which granted them that right.
Justin was working on a summer school assignment and was keeping notes about the book directly on his Kindle (a feature offered on the device). After Amazon removed the book his researched annotations section became useless without the ability to attach those notes to the original text.
The lawsuit isn’t targeting the lost work, but rather whether Amazon had the right to access customer devices without their expressed permission, while removing texts they determine they had no rights to sell in the first place. In fact Amazon’s own TOS states facts to the contrary,
“Amazon ‘grants you the non-exclusive right to keep a permanent copy of the applicable Digital Content and to view, use, and display such Digital Content an unlimited number of times.'”
While Amazon did refund customers for the mistake they made via their illegal distribution of 1984 by George Orwell, the case has been compared to a scenario in which Barnes and Nobles sneaks into their customers homes, steals back purchases and then leaves a check for the original purchase price on the customers counter.
The suit also points to possible computer fraud since the Kindle is in fact a stand alone computer and therefore any intrusion from an outside source, without the users permission, would be considered computer fraud. [thanks Ars Technica]