Your iTunes May Not Be Yours, Or Your Heir's If You Die
The fine print says downloaded music is not necessarily your property
Actor Bruce Willis recently joked that he would sue over it, but it is a legitimate question - do you actually own the music you download, and can you leave it to someone if you die?
Listen to Ray's interview with Lea Shaver with the IU McKinney School of Law:
An expert from IU's McKinney School of Law says you may not. Lea Shaver, as associate professor at the law school's Center For Intellectual Property, says you would know this if you had read the fine print when you downloaded a song or an album from iTunes or another music service. "For example, you agree not to modify, rent, lease, loan, sell, distribute or create derivative works based on the iTunes service in any manner. That legalese simply means you don't have the right to sell, share or adapt your downloads."
Shaver says under current U-S law, downloaded music in most cases is not considered a hard copy of an item, like a record, tape or a book. "Whether you view the music downloads as music or software, they do not fall under the 'first sale doctrine.' So, your rights are limited by the terms of the license that iTunes, in this case, gave you when you signed up for the service," Shaver says. The "first sale doctrine" was established by a 1908 ruling from the Supreme Court, saying you can do what you want with a physical item once you have purchased it.
There might be changes coming, at least in Europe, where Shaver says a court have ruled that downloaded music should be treated as property under the first sale doctrine as long as the music was sold rather than rented. While there is no similar case in a U-S court right now, Shaver says some companies are considering another way of getting around the first sale doctrine with a slight change to their business models. "The European rules says if it was sold as a rental, you don't have a first sale right. So, as long as the industry starts calling this a lifetime rental rather than a sale, then you could still be restricted in the same ways."
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