Microsoft pulls its old e-books and proves e-ownership is a myth

Microsoft will remove its e-books and offer customers reimbursements, a reminder that companies have ultimate control over downloaded content.


July 2, 2019

A few months ago, customers chewed out Apple for removing movies they’d “bought” from iTunes.

Now, Microsoft’s in the hot seat after it announced plans to remove all the e-books it’s ever sold from customers’ digital libraries.

It’s an ugly outcome for an e-book experiment

Microsoft announced it would stop selling e-books in April, turning the page on a failed digital bookstore effort launched in 2017.

Don’t worry, Microsoft will refund all purchases, and even toss in an extra $25 for anyone who (digitally) annotated their books.

But, regardless of the $25 bait and switch, many customers are undoubtedly still left wondering…

Is this the end of ownership?

While Apple insisted its removal of old movies was an exceptional situation, Microsoft was matter-of-fact about the move — a reminder of who holds the cards when it comes to digital rights management (DRM).

DRM law is intended to protect copyrighted work, but it also gives companies complete control over restricting access to content — and no legal responsibility to make it available forever.

In other words, Microsoft is reimbursing its customers only to keep people happy, not because it’s legally required to — and next time, customers may not get as much mercy.

Daily briefings, straight to your inbox

Business and tech news in 5 minutes or less

Join over 1 million people who read The Hustle

Psst

How'd Bezos build a billion dollar empire?

In 1994, Jeff Bezos discovered a shocking stat: Internet usage grew 2,300% per year.

Data shows where markets are headed.

And that’s why we built Trends — to show you up-and-coming market opportunities about to explode. Interested?

Join us, it's free.

Look, you came to this site because you saw something cool. But here’s the deal. This site is actually a daily email that covers the important news in business, tech, and culture.

So, if you like what you’re reading, give the email a try.