I hate to kick off December with news of an online e-reader scam, but with so many people out there shopping online booksellers for holiday gifts this one is especially vile.
According to Rob Pegoraro over at the Washington Post, Amazon.com is actively charging Kindle customers for public domain e-books that are available for free download from Project Gutenberg. These books appear to have been copied from Gutenberg files and stripped of the volunteer site's license information before being uploaded for sale.
This statement is included in the beginning of all of Project Gutenberg's e-books:
This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.org.
Amazon.com has been advised that they are selling bootlegs of Gutenberg's free e-books but appear to be uninterested in taking immediate action. Maybe someone should tell them they can use the Huffington Post to explain to everyone how it's not their fault that readers are getting scammed, and/or back-pedal on their unethical policies enough to avoid getting sued. Worked nicely for Scribd.com after I discovered them ripping off my readers.
In the meantime, I recommend Kindle users follow Rob Pegoraro's suggestion to avoid getting ripped off by Amazon.com: "Search the Gutenberg site for a title you're interested in buying for your Kindle and download it from there if it's available. Not only does that site usually offer books in Kindle formats, you can even download them directly to a Kindle."