September 3, 2012

Bruce Willis To Sue Apple Over Right To Bequeath His iTunes Library

Bruce Willis' using iChat to talk to a fan
According to The Sun(UK), Bruce Willis is preparing to sue Apple over the terms and conditions of its iTunes service. The actor has collected a huge music library, and “wants to leave the haul to his daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallulah. But 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.”

Die harder, indeed! Willis may set up a trust for his tunes to get around the problem, but in the meantime, he is “also backing legal moves to increase the rights of downloaders,” according to The Sun.

The story quoted London estate attorney Chris Walton, as saying, “Lots of people will be surprised on learning all those tracks and books they have bought over the years don’t actually belong to them. It’s only natural you would want to pass them on to a loved one.”

This is obviously a slight story on a holiday weekend, but it raises an important issue, both about digital media in general and also about user’s awareness of the terms and conditions of the sites they patronize. If we are used to “owning” our music and then we switch to another method of purchasing it, how much does Apple need to do to change our perception that we do not still “own” our downloads? As with many other things in tech (privacy on Skype, for instance) it is more a matter of not correcting our misconceptions than engaging in outright deception.


The family angle, Willis’ celebrity and his penchant for populist advocacy, gives his challenge to iTunes a broad appeal. Apple would do well to address his concerns politely. I thought I owned my tunes, too!
Post a Comment