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If you buy a book digitally you own it, right? Not if you buy it from Amazon!
Last week was a bad week for the cloud and digital distribution.
First, Twitter’s Google accounts got hacked, and details of its funding and strategy were published for all to see.
Did you know they could do that? Neither did I.
And I’m sure that the irony of choosing 1984 to demonstrate this capability is lost on no-one.
As Bruce Schneier, my favourite writer on security on the Internet and chief security technology officer for British Telecom said:
After a storm of coverage across the Internet, Amazon has clarified that the “you thought you bought them but in fact they never existed” ebooks were in fact illegal copies, in that these works are still in copyright and the publisher had no rights to publish them.
The fact that these books were illegal copies does change the facts. But it doesn’t move away from the fact that Amazon has an astounding level of control over ebooks on the Kindle. It demonstrates uncontrovertibly that in the ebook world, you don’t actually own anything. It’s all about the licence.
This opens all sorts of questions. Will politicians be able to “lean” on ebook distributors to pull back content they don’t like. Can a writer who would like to disassociate himself from a book “unpublish” it. And above all, how will consumers feel when content that they have paid for changes or disappears all together.
I am convinced that the world is going digital. I am equally convinced that processing and storage is moving from the desktop to the cloud. But events like these show that we have only just begun to see the implications of this Brave New World.