As you might have heard over the news in the past week or so, actor Bruce Willis was deemed to have undertaken a lawsuit against Apple in order to obtain the right to leave his iTunes library to his children after his death.
This now has turned out to be poppycock, made up by a British tabloid much like the story about Michael Jackson having been spotted alive in a Reno Nevada “massage” parlor, or Elvis being married with Marylin Monroe and living happily in Antigua where they run the local Christmas shop.
Unlike in the case of anything physical like a house, car, boat, Rolex watch and the usual 180 year lifespan parrot that only screams out insults or imitates the smoke detector, and only at night or when you’re about to doze off, inheriting any digital material we might have purchased online right now does not automatically work. This is because of the licensing agreement, that essentially states we do not actually OWN any of the songs we’ve purchased through iTunes, or the games we’ve gotten at the Apple Store, or Steam, or Origin, but we are licensed to use them until our death.
Appallingly, if he had actually decided to sue Apple, the results would not have been immediately obvious.
Digital format actually means photos, music, written material, games , self-published books and more. For instance, your family photos shared and stored on Picasa. What happens to them after you die? Can your kids get your password from Google and gain access to the photos, share them or whatever? Nope.
The same applies if you’ve written a novel and self published it on sites like Amazon, Kindle or any other self-publishing sites. After you die, unless it’s precisely specified in your will, the publishing sites will get to keep the rights, not your heirs, and even then, your heirs will be forced to sue the companies in order to obtain them. In fact this applies to any and all content you might have uploaded onto any site.
That’s stuff to think about, right before you get a notary, a lawyer and ultimately, a bank loan to pay for it all.