Earlier today, there was a rumor that Bruce Willis was considering to sue Apple to clarify who owns content downloaded from iTunes. The U.K.’s Daily Mail reported – and as with all things involving British tabloids, you should take this with a grain of salt – that Willis “is said to be considering legal action against technology giant Apple over his desire to leave his digital music collection to his daughters.” While contemplating his death, Willis apparently noticed something most iTunes users also conveniently ignore: even though Apple now provides you with DRM-free files, all you own is a license to play your music on up to five devices under your control and you can’t legally pass them on to others.
Update: Like many of our peers, we also fell for this good old British tabloid rumor at first. We have updated the story now that Willis’ wife has denied that this story was true.
@richied_ it’s not a true story
— Emma Heming-Willis (@EmmaHeming) September 3, 2012
According to the Daily Mail, Willis’ legal team was apparently considering to “establish family trusts as the ‘holders’ of somebody’s downloaded music. According to Willis’ wife Emma Hemming-Willis, however, this “is not a true story.”
Still, the question of what happens with somebody’s digital assets after their death (including music, ebooks and social networking profiles) is something we haven’t quite figured out yet and that’s worth contemplating, even outside of this slow news day story.
Sites like Deceased Account, for example, lists numerous major web services that don’t currently have policies for how they handle the accounts of deceased users. Most services that do have policies, including Twitter, allow family members to close a dead user’s account but don’t provide them with access to the user’s data. Facebook, which probably has to deal with this problem more than other online services, now offers a feature to turn a dead person’s profile into an online memorial.
As for the music people download from iTunes, though, most of the rules for how Apple handles music rights aren’t so much determined by Apple as by the music industry. Still, it always helps to keep up with latest iTunes terms and condition, because who knows what could happen if you don’t…
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons