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You are here: Home FSF News Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos apologizes for Kindle ebook deletion. Free Software Foundation calls upon Amazon to free the ebook reader.

Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos apologizes for Kindle ebook deletion. Free Software Foundation calls upon Amazon to free the ebook reader.

by John Sullivan Contributions Published on Jul 23, 2009 06:13 PM

Update: the FSF is assembling a petition for launch later this week that will make a strong statement against remote deletion and DRM. If you or your organization would like to co-sign, please contact Holmes Wilson at holmes@fsf.org

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA -- Thursday, July 23, 2009 -- The Free Software Foundation (FSF) welcomed the apology issued today by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, as negative reviews from DefectiveByDesign.org campaign supporters criticizing the Kindle's use of proprietary software and Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) to remotely delete ebooks continued to pour in.

(Concerned Amazon customers can register their 1 star reviews of the Kindle here, requesting Jeff Bezos drop DRM and release the Kindle as a free software device. Over 650 1 star reviews have already been added.)

In a post to the Kindle Community forum on Amazon's Web site, Bezos said:

This is an apology for the way we previously handled illegally sold copies of 1984 and other novels on Kindle. Our "solution" to the problem was stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles. It is wholly self-inflicted, and we deserve the criticism we've received. We will use the scar tissue from this painful mistake to help make better decisions going forward, ones that match our mission.

With deep apology to our customers,
Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO
Amazon.com

The FSF and Defective By Design, which on Monday called on activists to post reviews calling attention to the Kindle Swindle's arbitrary deletion of George Orwell ebooks from hundreds of users' devices, welcomed Bezos's apology, but said more must be done to remedy the problems exposed by Amazon's actions.

FSF's executive director Peter Brown explained, "Unfortunately this matter requires more than just changing internal policy. The real issue here is Amazon's use of DRM and proprietary software. They have unacceptable power over users, and actual respect necessitates more than an apology -- it requires abandoning DRM and releasing the Kindle's software as free software."

The deletion of the Orwell ebooks was Amazon's third blatant demonstration of the control its software provides over users. In June, Amazon remotely deleted copies of Ayn Rand books, and prior to that, they disabled Text-to-Speech functionality for select titles -- a move which was a slap in the face to all users and particularly to the visually impaired community.

FSF operations manager John Sullivan added, "Amazon has been a positive example for Defective By Design to point to in the world of DRM-free music. We hope that this controversy will show Amazon that they need to take the same enlightened approach when it comes to ebooks, so Kindle users can be confident that they won't be Swindled again."

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants -- and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Media Contacts

Holmes Wilson
Campaigns Manager
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 542 5942
campaigns@fsf.org

Peter Brown
Executive Director
Free Software Foundation
+1 (617) 319 5832

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