Copyfighter and blogger Cory Doctorow riffs on why Amazon’s downloads for books and music are so terrible. I seldom shop at Amazon, but when I do, I’ve never had a problem and am always amazed at how quickly things arrive. Now if they could just get the title, cover shot, and author name right on my books, things would be great.
As a consumer advocate and activist, I’m delighted by almost every public policy initiative from Amazon. When the Author’s Guild tried to get Amazon to curtail its used-book market, the company refused to back down. Founder Jeff Bezos (who is a friend of mine) even wrote, “when someone buys a book, they are also buying the right to resell that book, to loan it out, or to even give it away if they want. Everyone understands this.”
More recently, Amazon stood up to the US government, who’d gone on an illegal fishing expedition for terrorists (TERRORISTS! TERRORISTS! TERRORISTS!) and asked Amazon to turn over the purchasing history of 24,000 Amazon customers. The company spent a fortune fighting for our rights, and won.
It also has a well-deserved reputation for taking care over copyright “takedown” notices for the material that its customers post on its site, discarding ridiculous claims rather than blindly acting on every single notice, no matter how frivolous.
One of the dumbest companies on the web
But for all that, it has to be said: Whenever Amazon tries to sell a digital download, it turns into one of the dumbest companies on the web.