Why software licence agreements may be behind the legal issue with regards to Bruce Willis owning his iTunes library

According to Forbes, Bruce Willis may be suing Apple over his right  to bequeath his iTunes library.. A key quote from the article is this:

…under iTunes’ current terms and conditions, customers essentially only ‘borrow’ tracks rather than owning them outright. So any music library amassed like that would be worthless when the owner dies.

This restriction may seem ridiculous to alot of people, but I have often seen it as something in the terms and conditions (Ts and Cs) for software. For software, the Ts and Cs will sometimes state that you are actually purchasing a license to use the software: you are not purchasing the actual software. For the purchasers, this doesn’t matter too much: no one is going to bequeath their old copies of DOS or Lotus 1-2-3 to anyone in their will, and the software companies likely aren’t going to try to prevent you from doing it if you do.

I am speculating that the same legal Ts and Cs that were used for software migrated over to music. The problem, of course, is that music is much more personal and has a much longer shelf life than software. The same too goes for digital books and any other digital material that comes up in the future.

I expect this will become a much bigger legal issue soon. I also recommend anyone selling digital media start thinking long term and how that could affect their company over time.

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