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 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 12:57 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

What happens to your digital music collection when you die? According to the article below, it's gone.

The average layperson might assume that digital music files (i.e., songs purchased from services such as iTunes and Amazon) can be passed by will or intestate succession. This is certainly true for music recorded onto physical media, such as CDs. However, the law currently treats digital files differently, given (a) the manner in which digital music is purchased, (b) the use of multiple digital files when accessing digital music files, and (c) the perishable nature of non-digital media.

Because most consumers never read the "Terms & Conditions" agreements when purchasing digital music, they may be surprised to learn that when buying a song from iTunes or Amazon, the purchaser is not granted ownership of the downloaded song file, but merely acquires a non-transferable license to use the file on the purchaser’s device for the contract duration. Thus, by contract, such files cannot pass at the death of the purchaser, as the usage license is non-transferable to other persons.

Digital music services have justified the new ownership regime based upon the manner in which digital music is accessed and played, as well as the non-perishability of digital files. Digital music providers argue that the digital file is necessarily "copied" each time it is accessed from the purchaser's device, the "cloud," or when streamed from the service-provider, so that the seller rightfully structures consumer access of the purchased music files as a personal, non-transferable license to access such usage "copies" during the term of the contract.

In comparison, a CD contains one particular copy of the song, such that the material object containing the recording can properly be owned by the purchaser as well as sold to another via the "first sale" doctrine. The one federal court that has addressed the applicability of the traditional "first sale" doctrine in regards to digital media held that digital music files could not be sold, because the sale would by necessity require the transfer and copy of the copyright-protected computer code to some new device, a transfer prohibited under the license agreement. See Capitol Records, LLC v. ReDigi Inc., 934 F. Supp. 2d 640 (S.D.N.Y. 2013). The court also observed that "first sale" should not apply to digital audio files because such files do not physically degrade like traditional music media.

At least one state legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit digital media providers from including contract terms that limit the right of purchasers to transfer their digital media accounts to their will beneficiaries or intestate heirs and mandates that digital media providers provide the decedent's I.D. and password for digital media accounts so these can be transferred to the rightful at-death takers. See S.B. 641, 28th Leg. (Haw. 2015) (adjourned sine die). Major industry representative The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., filed a letter in opposition to the bill, arguing that such at-death transfer of digital media accounts violates federal copyright law (i.e., that each use or transfer of a digital media file from any device necessitates that new copies be created, copies that must be controlled by the copyright holder), characterizing the transfer of such a decedent's digital files at death as the personal representative's distribution of unauthorized copies of the subject digital media files.

While the current contractual licensing regime prevents the inheritability of such digital media files, the structure could change if courts determine that digital media should not be treated differently from traditional hard-copy media formats or if state legislatures enact new laws empowering digital media consumers to pass their digital media files at death, laws necessarily curtailing digital media providers from contractually mandating solely a license-based usage regime.

Read more at: http://www.nlrg.com/trusts-estates-wills-and-tax-law-legal-research-copy/estates-the-inheritability-of-digital-music-files

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 2:01 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Back up your files onto an external drive. Listeners should do this anyway in case of a system crash. Problem solved.

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 2:10 PM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

Nobody in my family wants my music anyway. I put a post-it on my CDs saying "Don't forget to throw these away when I die!"

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 2:18 PM   
 By:   La La Land Records   (Member)

Nobody in my family wants my music anyway. I put a post-it on my CDs saying "Don't forget to throw these away when I die!"

True, but at least they can sell them to amoeba for a cup of coffee.

smile

MV

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 2:21 PM   
 By:   WagnerAlmighty   (Member)

Nobody in my family wants my music anyway. I put a post-it on my CDs saying "Don't forget to throw these away when I die!"

True, but at least they can sell them to amoeba for a cup of coffee.

smile

MV


Wait, that's my racket! wink

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 2:28 PM   
 By:   Bob DiMucci   (Member)

Back up your files onto an external drive. Listeners should do this anyway in case of a system crash. Problem solved.


You apparently only read my first sentence and not the article. It's not that the files are lost or disappear after you have gone. It's that it's illegal to pass the files (on or off an external drive) to your heirs.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 2:47 PM   
 By:   Spymaster   (Member)

Aaaaah digital music. Vapourware. Gotta love it.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 3:12 PM   
 By:   OnyaBirri   (Member)

Back up your files onto an external drive. Listeners should do this anyway in case of a system crash. Problem solved.


You apparently only read my first sentence and not the article. It's not the the files are lost or disappear after you have gone. It's that it's illegal to pass the files (on or off an external drive) to your heirs.


Does iTunes track when users die, and if so, how do they know if the files are on a hard drive, and how do they know that they weren't ripped from a CD? Are the files watermarked?

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 3:16 PM   
 By:   Doug Raynes   (Member)

I think this is the least of my problems.

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 3:40 PM   
 By:   other tallguy   (Member)

I'm waiting for someone rich enough with a large enough digital collection (movies, music, whatever) to have a messy divorce.

"She gets half of everything! Except the Amazon collection because we can't do anything about that." Uh huh.

 
 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 3:40 PM   
 By:   Last Child   (Member)

Doesnt anyone believe in reincarnation? Keep your cd library in a rocket silo - you can find a cheap one online.

http://www.missilebases.com/

http://www.silohome.com/buy_missile_silo_ultimate_survival_shelter_2012_shelter_fallout_military_missile.htm

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 7:53 PM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

Back up your files onto an external drive. Listeners should do this anyway in case of a system crash. Problem solved.


You apparently only read my first sentence and not the article. It's not the the files are lost or disappear after you have gone. It's that it's illegal to pass the files (on or off an external drive) to your heirs.


Yeah, f'k'em. If I want to give my collection to a friend or family member I will. Though I hardly buy digital music. So, I won't be going to jail after all. Oh wait. I'll be dead! Guess they can drag my rotting corpse to the slammer.

 
 Posted:   Jan 31, 2018 - 9:53 PM   
 By:   Tom Maguire   (Member)

The only thing I need to do to continue my digital existence and pass along my electronic property is to give someone my usernames and passwords.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2018 - 1:25 AM   
 By:   Peter Greenhill   (Member)

The only thing I need to do to continue my digital existence and pass along my electronic property is to give someone my usernames and passwords.

Me too. All my digital music is in cloud storage so should still be accessible provided I leave logon details.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2018 - 3:09 AM   
 By:   Rameau   (Member)

Yup, there's been a number of programs & articles about this, my answer is...I don't care. I don't have a digital collection, but I'm sure all my lovely CD will be carted off to a charity shop, or thrown away, but I'll be gone.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2018 - 3:21 AM   
 By:   MCurry29   (Member)

Nobody in my family wants my music anyway. I put a post-it on my CDs saying "Don't forget to throw these away when I die!"

True, but at least they can sell them to amoeba for a cup of coffee.

smile

MV


Or SAE.

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2018 - 3:24 AM   
 By:   Dr Smith   (Member)

This is why I have not, and will not, ever spend a penny on a digital music file.I only buy physical CDs because they exist independently of music ripped to my devices, and they can be resold. Intellectual property rights is a complicated issue, but the music companies DO NOT care about the rights of the composer, performer, or the consumer-only about their CEOs and maybe the share holders.Just my opinion.

 
 Posted:   Feb 1, 2018 - 4:13 AM   
 By:   Nicolai P. Zwar   (Member)

For the most part, my digital music collection equals my physical CD collection. I just about have most of my CDs ripped into lossless format by now, and I still rather buy a CD and make a lossless copy (and make AACs from them if I need them), instead of buying a (usually lossy) digital download. Have not yet bought any downloads.

 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2018 - 10:10 AM   
 By:   JTWfan77   (Member)

How on Earth will Apple or Google or the record labels or whoever be able to police what happens when someone passes on? Are the estate lawyers going to e-mail them to "freeze" that person's digital library? If my heirs have my login details they can still access my libraries, can't they? In any case, I make multiple backups of all my purchased digital music. When I'm gone, my heirs can decide if they want to keep it or not.

On the subject of physical media, wasn't there some backlash from certain artists against the resale of their albums by used stores (Garth Brooks in particular)? The reason being that artists (and labels) don't earn royalties on resold albums.

 
 Posted:   Feb 2, 2018 - 10:21 AM   
 By:   solium   (Member)

How on Earth will Apple or Google or the record labels or whoever be able to police what happens when someone passes on? Are the estate lawyers going to e-mail them to "freeze" that person's digital library? If my heirs have my login details they can still access my libraries, can't they? In any case, I make multiple backups of all my purchased digital music. When I'm gone, my heirs can decide if they want to keep it or not.

On the subject of physical media, wasn't there some backlash from certain artists against the resale of their albums by used stores (Garth Brooks in particular)? The reason being that artists (and labels) don't earn royalties on resold albums.


That's another reason why they are moving towards streaming only. Without "owning" a digital copy you won't even be able to pass that along to your family. And once your dead, iTunes, Amazon will simply freeze and or delete your account, so no one else can access those files.

 
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