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Cory Doctorow has a brief rant on BoingBoing about Amazon’s inconsistent use of terminology between its Kindle e-book license agreement and its advertisements.

The license agreement states that customers do not actually “own” Kindle books they buy; they’re simply “licensing” them for a limited set of uses. However, Doctorow points out:

It’s such a silly notion that even Amazon can’t keep its story straight. Take this press-release in which Amazon trumpets that its "customers purchased more Kindle books than physical books." Purchased, not "licensed."

Or consider this ad (courtesy of Elix): "Kindle publications are sold by Amazon Digital Services, Inc." Again, sold, not "licensed."

(Yes, you can purchase a license. But that’s not what the copy says. It doesn’t say, "Amazon customers purchased limited licenses to more Kindle books…")

He also brings up his inability to waive those license terms to place his Makers audiobook in Amazon’s Audible store.

Amazon isn’t doing this because the publishers insist on it: even when my publisher, Random House, the largest publisher in the world, told them that they didn’t want the crazy EULA, Amazon insisted.

It is worth remembering that the ownership terms of e-books are still a subject of considerable consumer/publisher disagreement. Readers want to “own” their books, to be able to move them between devices at will and lend them to friends. Publishers (and stores) want every copy paid for and read only in their format.

This does not appear likely to change very soon.

 
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