Amazon.com has agreed that it won't remove e-books from US users' Kindle electronic readers without their permission, as part of a proposed settlement of a lawsuit over the online retailer's deletion of a George Orwell novel from a high school student's e-reader.
Justin D. Gawronski, a 17-year-old student in Shelby Township, Michigan, sued Amazon after it erased copies of the Orwell works 1984 and Animal Farm from customers' Kindles in July.
Gawronski's suit claimed removing 1984 from his Kindle made electronic notes he had taken on the e-reader useless. He was reading the book for an advanced placement course in which he had to turn in "reflections" on each 100 pages of text.
The lawsuit had sought class-action status and called for unspecified damages and a ban on future deletions.
Seattle-based Amazon has said the books were added to its catalogue by an outside party that did not have rights them. It issued refunds to the buyers and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos subsequently apologised to irked customers.
In September the company offered to redeliver the titles for free to those who had had them deleted, along with any annotations, or give affected customers an Amazon.com gift certificate or cheque.
In the settlement, which was filed late last week in a US District Court in Seattle, Amazon agreed that it won't remotely delete books from US users' Kindles except when customers consent to the deletion, fail to pay for a book or ask for a refund.
Amazon may also remove or modify an e-book if it needs to protect consumers, the Kindle's operation or the wireless network on which the Kindle runs (such as from a computer virus), or as part of a court order.
Amazon also agreed to pay $150,000 (£94,400) in legal fees, which will be donated to charity.
A judge still has to approve the proposed deal.
Jay Edelson, a Chicago-based lawyer who filed the suit on behalf of Gawronski and an adult reader in Milpitas, California, called the settlement "terrific."
"We think in the end Amazon did the right thing," he said.
Amazon spokesman Drew Herdener said the company had no comment.
The company currently has the proper rights to distribute the Orwell books.