Readers will remember that last summer, owners of the Kindle edition of George Orwell's 1984 suddenly discovered the book missing from their e-reader. Amazon had remotely deleted it because it didn't really have the rights to sell that electronic edition.
That action brought the company a lot of bad publicity but also a lawsuit from Michigan student Justin Gawronski, 17, who was in the middle of a summer reading project.
Early in September, Amazon offered to restore the book to the affected Kindles, along with any digital notes. Partly because of that decision, Gawronski's lawyers have dropped the suit.
The Stipulation of Settlement (PDF) states that the plaintiff thinks he still has a case, but that Amazon's actions have diminished the chances of certifying a class for the purposes of widening the suit, and that the chances are slim of getting any greater relief than has already been provided.
But the agreement also includes Amazon's promise not to "remotely delete or modify" purchased material except when (a) the user consents, (b) the user requests a refund "or otherwise fails to pay," (c) the law requires it, (d) it's necessary to remove something like malware.
The agreement explicitly exempts applications and software, blogs, or newspapers and magazines from that promise, because much of that content is replaced by newer versions regularly anyway.
Amazon also agreed to pay Gawronski's lawyers US$150,000, some of which will be donated to a charitable organization.
The student who sued Amazon after the company deleted his Kindle copy of 1984 -- along with all his notes -- has agreed to drop the suit. But the settlement agreement, which has been made public, spells out exactly what Amazon can delete and when.
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