Laura Hazard Owen for GigaOm posted an interesting article this week that unearthed an issue making waves involving the highlighting feature on Kindles. A recently launched startup called Findings enabled users to sync their highlighted Kindle clippings and allow others to see those clippings. However, Amazon pulled the plug on the service citing a violation of their terms of service.
Hazard Owen sites a number of possible reasons for this. It’s all too easy to blame the publishers any time there’s a disagreement with Amazon, but in truth, since other users would not need to purchase the text to view users’ highlights, publishers may have had piracy concerns. Additionally, Amazon may have plans underway to actually launch this feature for its customers, so obviously it would want to slow down any competition. Finally, Hazard Owen points to potential concerns on Amazon’s part about its customers syncing their Kindles to a third-party app.
News site techdirt.com took a slightly different stance on it, pointing squarely to the publishers and their concerns over illegal sharing of the text; as the site points out, how can piracy be a major issue driving this closure when there are limits on how much text can be highlighted? In light of the hyper-sensitivity some publishers seem to have towards piracy concerns where ebooks are involved, even going so far as to forbid ebook lending for public and academic libraries, it doesn’t seem too far off.