Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Who Inherits Your iTunes Library?

Quentin Fottrell for MarketWatch:

Someone who owned 10,000 hardcover books and the same number of vinyl records could bequeath them to descendants, but legal experts say passing on iTunes and Kindle libraries would be much more complicated.

And one’s heirs stand to lose huge sums of money. “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital Afterlife.” “Legally dividing one account among several heirs would also be extremely difficult.”

These are good questions, but I think that one of the most notable ones regards the concept of ownership:

Part of the problem is that with digital content, one doesn’t have the same rights as with print books and CDs. Customers own a license to use the digital files—but they don’t actually own them.

I think this concept is more contrived than it needs to be. In physical media, one is also given a license to use the files. You are allowed to do many things with a CD, but the music on it is subject to certain rules (copyright law), with certain restrictions. You own the media, but you license the content. One cannot own “Abbey Road” because the ownership of that music belongs to the label.

Since most music sold online today is DRM-free, one can easily transfer that content to their loved ones (though perhaps not according to the license terms, strictly speaking).