Amazon Kindle case wins US$150k for teen

2 Oct 2009

Following a lawsuit against Amazon for removing the George Orwell novel Animal Farm from his Kindle device after purchase, US teen Justin Gawronski has received a class action settlement of US€150,000.

Earlier this year, the publisher retracted the sale of electronic copies of Orwell’s novels Animal Farm and 1984 on the Kindle device because it did not have the right to sell the electronic format in the US.

Following this, Amazon removed the ebooks for sale but also remotely removed already-purchased copies from customers’ Kindle devices, essentially taking back what their customers had already paid for.

Although the company refunded customers, it had taken back purchased electronic items without notice and this is where 17-year-old high-school student Gawronski found fault after his copy of Animal Farm, complete with class notes for homework, disappeared overnight.

Shortly afterwards, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos delivered an online apology: “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,” he said.

On September 3, 2009, Amazon contacted all users whose copies of the Orwell novels had been deleted and offered them either delivery of a new copy or a US$30 Amazon gift card.

Gawronski pursued a class action with the result of the settlement announced today. The teen said that after paying lawyer fees, the rest of the money would be donated to charity.

By Marie Boran, via

Photo: The Kindle device.