Teen sues Amazon: The Kindle ate my homework

A Michigan teen seeks class action status for lawsuit alleging the bookseller's remote deletion of copies of Orwell's "1984" messed up his summer reading assignment.

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

A 17-year-old from Michigan has filed a lawsuit against e-commerce powerhouse Amazon after it deleted a book he had purchased for his Kindle device.

The high school student, Justin D. Gawronski, filed suit in a Seattle court along with California resident Antoine J. Bruguier, and they are seeking class action status.

Amazon forcibly (and ironically) recalled copies of George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" earlier this month after it was revealed that they were unauthorized. Justin Gawronski's complaint alleges that he was reading "1984" as summer reading for an advanced-placement class and had to turn in "reflections" on each hundred pages. With the loss of the digital book, Gawronski claims his page count was thrown off and his notes were "rendered useless because they no longer referenced the relevant parts of the book."

Amazon has declined to comment on the lawsuit, which appears was first reported late Thursday by The Wall Street Journal's Digits blog.

While buyers received refunds for the recalled copies of the Orwell books, the fact that no advance notice was given threw many customers off and created an uproar against Amazon. The lawsuit, for one, alleges that Amazon did not make it clear enough to customers that remote book deletions were a possibility. It also alleges, as do critics, that the company violated its own terms of use.

"The power to delete your books, movies, and music remotely is a power no one should have," the lawsuit quoted Slate's Farhad Manjoo as saying in an opinion piece following the book deletions.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos put out a public apology shortly after the fiasco unfolded, but it's not clear how the company's policies will (or won't) change in the future.