Yesterday was pretty surreal for digital music veterans, with Bruce Willis and questions about iTunes legacies splashed all over the newspapers and TV news channels here in the UK. The issue is real: whether people have the right to leave their digital music collections to their heirs. Unfortunately, the Bruce Willis element is not: “It’s not a true story,” tweeted Willis’ wife yesterday.
So no, the Die Hard star isn’t “considering legal action” in five US States against Apple over his desire to leave his collection to his daughters, as the Daily Mail had claimed. While the desire to ensure someone – anyone – still owned the Bruce Willis back catalogue would have been understandable, the actor is a red herring.
Digital content ownership – not just music, but films, TV shows, e-books, games and so on – remains a chewy issue. Witness the ongoing legal battle around MP3-reselling service ReDigi. But this week’s debate comes as the industry continues to see a shift away from ownership to access, which will have accelerated by the time Willis passes on.
Or to put it more callously: Today’s fiftysomethings may like the idea of passing their music downloads collection onto their children, but if those children have Spotify/Rhapsody/Deezer/etc subscriptions, they may not be so fussed about the bequest. The vintage iPod hardware, on the other hand…