Sunday, July 19, 2009

Big Brother Tactics Give Amazon A Black Eye


This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for—thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people’s Kindles and credited their accounts for the price. - More: NY Times

I find the above incident hardly surprising. Recently I was notified by Roku that my new player now had the ability to obtain video-on-demand movies from Amazon. I went up to Amazon to activate my player for this service only to discover (by reading the service agreement's fine print) that Amazon, even though they were charging $14.99 to buy a downloadable movie - a price almost as high as a new release DVD - they advised that you download the movie and watch it as soon as possible because they did not guarantee that the film you purchase would be available for future viewing if the studio that released the film should decide to no longer offer it in downloadable format. The only thing surprising about the Kindle incident was that Amazon actually refunded the purchase price. I assumed that Amazon, by making such a disclaimer in their VOD agreement, was negating any liability for such an act and was not obligated to issue any refunds.

Anyway, needless to say, although I activated my Roku player for Amazon VOD services, I have never purchased a movie in that format. As for renting a movie from Amazon, I think Netflix is far more economical, even if you have to wait a bit for a disc and I can choose from hundreds of instantly available titles on my Roku device for free in the meantime.
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