What happens to our digital libraries when we die - does our digital footprint live on?


Just a few years ago, music was stored at home on CDs and hard copies of books filled the bookshelves in homes. Increasingly, this form of storage is disappearing as computers and different forms of technology are used to store our online libraries of music, movies and books.

However, due to the current state of the law there is seldom any right for these to be used by others once we die. In other words, whilst your loved ones could inherit your CDs and books when you had a physical copy of them, the same does not apply to the digital storing of information.

This is because when we buy our products through a middle man, such as iTunes or Amazon, we use so-called licensing agreements, which only permit individual use of the purchased article.

Will the next lawsuit be Bruce Willis v. iTunes?

The American actor Bruce Willis recently made a frustrating discovery as he became aware of the fact that he can currently not pass his iTunes library on to his daughters when he dies.

He was completely baffled as he owns several Apple products, and is a frequent iTunes customer. As such, he has paid for his music collection but his legal right is limited to him listening to the tracks, and copying them to other compatible devices that he owns.

Rumour has it that Willis is considering how he can circumvent this legal oddity, and whether his will needs to be tailored in order to allow his daughters to have access to his music library once he dies.

Is Willis on the right track?

The law has not quite kept up with the developments in the digital era, and there is currently no legislation that stipulates what happens with our digital network when we die.

Our digital footprint has been an increasingly debated issue. Not only in the context of Apple and Amazon, but also in relation to what happens to our online profile after we die.

Perhaps it is time for the law to get up to date with the digital age, and ensure that our digital properties are passed on when we die to remaining loved ones.

Inheritance law can be complicated, so visit our wills and probate page to get the background on this subject or call us on the number below to be referred to a specialist.

And if you are writing your will or are concerned about inheritance law we can put you in touch with an expert solicitor in your area, free of charge. Call us now on 0800 1777 162 or fill in the web form above to speak to an advisor.

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