updated 05:30 pm EDT, Fri October 30, 2009
Fresh complaints follow iTunes DRM uproar
Norway's Consumer Council, Forbrukerrådet, has spoken out against Amazon's terms-of-service regarding e-books purchased on the Kindle, as detailed in a post on the Council's website. The group's director, Hans Marius Graasvold, claims several points in the e-book agreement violate Norwegian consumer-rights laws.
The Consumer Council is primarily concerned with the "excessive bond" between the e-book content and the Kindle device. The group compares the protection method to the iTunes DRM that it had previously fought against. The iTunes disagreement nearly resulted in legal action before Apple dropped DRM from most of the content. Graasvold warns that the council has not ruled out an "iTunes2 case if we are not satisfied at this point."
Another sticking point involves Amazon's clause that reserves the right to terminate service if the customer has broken the agreement terms. The group interprets the wording to mean that Kindle can take away an entire collection of purchased e-books if the user is suspected of making an illegal copy of just one. "It is inconceivable that Platekompaniet would have to take my record collection even though I was suspected of unlawful use of a CD I have purchased from them," writes Glassvold.
Although Amazon reserves the right to change the terms at any time, a common clause in US agreements, the Council claims this violates Norwegian and European contract law. Graasvold also expresses privacy concerns with how Amazon handles or sells information such as types of content each user is purchasing or the notes entered on the device. As a final note, the director also suggests the Kindle should be paired with a five-year warranty instead of the current one/two-year plan.
"There is a general tendency for consumers to meet grossly unfair contract terms when they make use of certain network services and products or a combination thereof," said Graasvold. "We see it as a to our main task to work for strengthening the relationship between industry and the consumer becomes more balanced."
Despite the public critique, the Consumer Council has yet to make specific threats of further action. It remains unclear how Amazon will react to the disagreements. Apple initially ignored many of the Europen threats, claiming the DRM protection was a demand of the record labels and not an attempt to monopolize the market for media players and digital sales. [via Ars Technica]