Can Bruce Willis Leave His iTunes Collection to His Children? Inheritability of Digital Media in the Face of EULAs

By Wong, Claudine | Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal, May 2013 | Go to article overview

Can Bruce Willis Leave His iTunes Collection to His Children? Inheritability of Digital Media in the Face of EULAs


Wong, Claudine, Santa Clara Computer & High Technology Law Journal


TABLE OF CONTENTS   I. Introduction II. Digital Assets and Death of the Consumer     A. What Are Digital Assets?     B. Death of the Consumer III. What Do You Own?      A. The License Agreements         1. Apple: Music and E-Books         2. Amazon.com: Music and E-Books         3. Barnes & Noble: E-Books         4. Google: Music and E-Books     B. Conclusions IV. What Can You Do With Your Digital Content?     A. The Account Itself     B. The Digital Content: Two Wrinkles        1. The First Wrinkle: First Sale of Digital Content?        2. The Second Wrinkle: Digital Rights Management V. Where Do We Go From Here?     A. State Legislation and the Uniform Law Commission     B. What Every Person Should Do     C. What Every Content Provider Should Do VI. Conclusion 

I. INTRODUCTION

In early September, 2012, several news outlets erroneously reported that actor Bruce Willis intended to sue Apple, Inc., for the right to will his iTunes collection to his children. (1) The Willis family immediately denied the rumor, (2) but this story left the technology and legal communities with a question: Can Mr. Willis actually leave his iTunes collection to his children?

There is a great deal of confusion and misinformation about this question. For instance, one often repeated assumption is that an iTunes consumer does not own the songs he or she buys; (3) a careful reading of the license agreement indicates that this is not the case. (4) The confusion stems in part from uncertainty in the law, which has not kept pace as copyrighted material has moved from wellunderstood, printed formats into the digital realm. (5) The confusion is also caused by consumers not understanding, or--far more likely-not having even read the "end user license agreement" (EULA) that he or she agreed to when registering for a service such as iTunes. (6) The uncertainty is exacerbated by lack of clarity in the EULAs themselves. The majority do not even address the death of the consumer who agreed to it. (7)

Why do the EULAs even matter? After all, in Western culture individuals have had the ability to purchase printed or inscribed words for thousands of years. (8) Though sound recordings were only granted federal copyright protection since 1972, (9) consumers have been able to purchase them for over a century. (10) Thanks to this long history, consumers have an expectation when they purchase books and music CDs: once purchased, the consumer owns the book or CD, free from any contractual obligations. Yet the inverse is true for digital music and e-books: the purchase of digital content is universally governed by EULAs. The EULAs may impose restrictions on a person's ability to pass his or her digital music and e-books at death, restrictions that do not exist for traditional media books and music. (11) In addition, a close reading of the EULAs for what are today some of the most popular providers of digital music and e-books--the Apple iTunes Store, Amazon.com's Kindle e-books and MP3 Store, Barnes & Noble's NOOK e-books, and Google Play Store's music service-reveals that, unlike traditional printed books and CDs, cassettes, or vinyl LPs, the consumer may not in fact, actually own what he or she has purchased. (12)

Another key difference between traditional, print media and digital media is that a consumer can only purchase digital content by establishing an account with the content provider. (13) The account itself is also governed by a EULA, typically a different document than the one governing the purchase of the content, and thus having distinct issues. The most important of these issues is that access to the account generally gives access to the digital content purchased through the account. Thus it is important to know: can the consumer pass on the account itself, or at least pass on control of the account, to his or her heirs at death? of course, once purchased, the consumer typically (and legally) transfers the digital music or e-book onto a device such as an iPod or Kindle e-reader, and thereafter the consumer generally does not have to log into the account again. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Can Bruce Willis Leave His iTunes Collection to His Children? Inheritability of Digital Media in the Face of EULAs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.