It was interesting for me, as a Kindle user, to hear about Amazon’s remote deletion of e-texts of Nineteen Eighty-Four because it was guilty of a breach of copyright in selling them. Aside from the fact that it’s a little uncomfortable that a big, multi-national corporation can delve into my Kindle – which I think of as a private and personal resource – at will, I wonder how aware Amazon was of what they were doing. If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they weren’t aware that the sale of this particular version was illegal, it does beg the question what chance has Joe (or Janet) Everyman got when it comes to copyright law, without teams of experienced business lawyers at their disposal?
In fact, I’d widen this to any aspect of the legal contract…after all, most of us (let’s be honest) don’t read the terms when we install a new program or piece of software, choosing the quick route of the “I accept” button and ignoring that niggling feeling that you could be signing your life away, so to speak. I’ve often thought that the companies that put out these software programs should include a plainer, more simply worded version of the contract alongside the official one. This dumbed down one wouldn’t be legally binding, but it might provide some idea of what is and isn’t permissible on the part of the user, whereas legal contracts are often so full of technicalities and hypothetical scenarios they seem largely incomprehensible.