You May Not Own Your Digital Music

What happens to downloads after death? That’s the legal question sparked by an apparently invented story about Bruce Willis suing Apple.

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Over the holiday weekend, CNET reported Bruce Willis might sue Apple over his iTunes library.

The “Die Hard” star, in between escaping from terrorist captors and blowing things up, has spent thousands on his iTunes collection across a number of iPods and wants to leave it to his children in the event of his death.

Diehard indeed. Only, part of the report doesn’t seem true: Willis’ wife denied it on Twitter. (The original report in the British tabloid The Daily Mail was poorly sourced, though many outlets ran with it anyway.) But the legal issues are real, CNET says.

The problem is that downloads through Apple and Amazon are legally more like long-term rentals, CNET says. They’re not physically owned things you can pass on. So Willis is considering multiple options, including a lawsuit and setting up a legal trust to hold onto his music.

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