Bruce Willis, the Rumor Mill, and Digital Ownership

Image by flickr user lorenjavier

Over the weekend, several sites reported that actor Bruce Willis was planning to sue Apple for the right to pass on his digital music collection after his death. Thanks in part to his wife’s Tweet debunking that rumor, everybody has since realized that story was false.

It may not be too surprising that a story like this would spread quickly (Hello. Bruce Willis is awesome.), but perhaps what has caught people off guard was the sudden realization that nobody “owns” their digital music. If you purchase music through iTunes, you are granted a license for it, not ownership.

In law school, you often hear about the reactionary nature of laws. Copyright laws don’t address questions like ownership of digital music or movies because no one knew it was going to be an issue before. Seeing questions like this raised in the public press may mean we see more legal attention given to digital content in future.

In the meantime, makes you think twice about dumping all those CDs you have cluttering up the house, doesn’t it?



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