Bruce Willis may not be the most likely candidate for a war on Apple and digital media licensing, but the Die Hard star has apparently engaged the lawyers in order to preserve his iTunes library legacy. Willis was supposedly outraged to discover that, upon his death, the licenses to his music, video, ebook, and other media purchased through iTunes will not be passed on to his children, The Sun reports, and is exploring ways to work around the rules.
Unlike physical media, digital downloads are only licensed – in effect “borrowed” – from the store they were bought from, rather than purchased outright. Although the discrepancy is little known among users, the outcome is that an entire library of content cannot be legally accessed once the person who bought those rights to playback has died.
Willis is supposedly setting up a trust, in which his downloads will be held, so that they can be made available to his children after his death. That’s probably not something every regular user will do, though the somewhat vague promise that the actor is now “backing legal moves to increase the rights of downloaders” might at least draw extra attention to exactly what rights you have when you hit “Buy” in iTunes or other download stores.
Whether, as has been reported, Willis will actually “sue” Apple over the rules remains to be seen. Digital Rights Management and issues of licensing have caused numerous headaches as downloads gain favor, with rival cloud playback services being unable to store and stream each other’s tracks and videos because of limitations around sharing.