A report in Tuesday’s Washington Post reveals that Amazon is apparently selling free public-domain eBooks that have had their license information stripped. The eBooks in question originate from Project Gutenberg and are available there for free in a variety of formats including ePub, HTML and Kindle. Project Gutenberg — not to be confused with 80s legend Steve Guttenberg — was founded by eBook inventor Michael Hart and is known as the first generally available collection of free eBooks. It is also maintained by volunteers who are not paid for their services. Amazon’s alleged practice of selling rebranded Gutenberg eBooks is not illegal — in fact it doesn’t even violate Project Gutenberg’s license terms. It is, however, unethical at best and very disturbing at worst. In response to inquiries, an Amazon spokeswoman told the Post, “These books were uploaded by a third party using our self-service platform. I’ve sent your note to the appropriate team internally.” Amazon did not state that the Gutenberg eBooks would be removed from its Kindle store, nor did it condemn the practice of selling reformatted versions of free public-domain eBook files.

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Zach Epstein has worked in and around ICT for more than 15 years, first in marketing and business development with two private telcos, then as a writer and editor covering business news, consumer electronics and telecommunications. Zach’s work has been quoted by countless top news publications in the US and around the world. He was also recently named one of the world's top-10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes, as well as one of Inc. Magazine's top-30 Internet of Things experts.