Amazon Can Ban You From Your Kindle Account Whenever It Likes

Amazon recently banned a customer for making what they considered too many returns, and when they did this they also disabled his Kindle account, although the returns were never related to Kindle purchases. So what happens when your Kindle account is taken away? Your Kindle still works, and the books you already bought for it will work, but you can’t download those books ever again (better have made a backup on your PC!), you can’t receive your magazine, blog, or newspaper subscriptions on it anymore, you can’t email documents to Amazon to have them converted and sent to your Kindle, and you can’t buy any new books for the device. That $360 device only works so long as Amazon decides it will work.

That’s the nasty thing about DRM—it prevents you from really owning things you’ve purchased. On ChannelWeb, Brian Sheinberg notes that this particular user got his Kindle access back as a one-time courtesy, but Amazon reserves the right to semi-brick it again if they like:

Furthermore, it seems that Amazon’s policies and user agreements allow for this kind of action (although there are no specific policies for its canceling an account in the first place). So, is this now a case of buyer beware? Will all those people who read the agreement and warned of such possibilities end up having the last “I told you so” laugh?

Ultimately, the user appealed to Amazon and it reinstated his account noting that “if a higher-than-acceptable number of concession incidents occur in the future” they will ban him again. Although this particular incident worked out for the user, it is still a bit frightening that a company can unilaterally make such a decision. Of course, it would be technically possible for Amazon to allow banned users to continue accessing their Kindle accounts, but they chose not to go that route and, based on its user agreement, Amazon doesn’t have to.

So say you own a Kindle—is there any way to protect yourself from this? Only by breaking the agreement you made when you bought books for your Kindle. Tech-savvy, determined Googlers can figure out how to remove the DRM on the texts so that they can be read on any device. At this point, as long as Amazon insists on putting DRM on every ebook it sells, it’s the only way to guarantee your ownership.

“Returning Product To Amazon Could Brick Your Kindle” [Channel Web] (Thanks to dboz!)
” Amazon has banned my account – my Kindle is now a (partial) brick” [MobileRead]
(Photo: EricaJoy)