57-year-old Bruce Willis refuses to die hard, even when it comes to Apple. The Hollywood star is looking at his legal options over who owns the rights to his iTunes songs when he passes away. The Sun goes as far as to report that he is “preparing to take Apple to court.”
When you buy a song from iTunes, you’re not actually purchasing the song. You’re purchasing the rights to listen to the song, and getting a copy so you can do so.
Understandably, Willis wants to leave the vast music collection he has downloaded over the years to his four children: Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, and Mabel. He has thus asked his advisers to set up family trusts specifically for his music downloads.
The German-born American is also reportedly supporting legal moves in five US states to give downloaders more rights over their music collections. After all, he has songs on “many, many iPods,” according to The Australian.
Once Willis passes away though, those tunes become effectively worthless. The Terms and Conditions for Apple’s iTunes store describe a “nontransferable license” for apps, and there’s no indication that media content is any different. Here’s the relevant excerpt from the “Scope of License” section:
This license does not allow you to use the Licensed Application on any Apple Device that you do not own or control, and except as provided in the Usage Rules, you may not distribute or make the Licensed Application available over a network where it could be used by multiple devices at the same time. This license does not allow you to use the Licensed Application on any Apple Device that you do not own or control, and except as provided in the Usage Rules, you may not distribute or make the Licensed Application available over a network where it could be used by multiple devices at the same time.
Upon payment for Music Content, we grant you a non-exclusive, non-transferable right to use the Music Content only for your personal, non-commercial, entertainment use, subject to the Agreement.
Every Apple and Amazon user agrees to these rules when they buy music from these services, including Willis. As such, I doubt the actor will have much of a legal leg to stand on if he really does go ahead and sue the consumer electronics giant.
Most people just ignore the rules and pass their songs onwards in the hopes that Apple never notices and thus doesn’t freeze their iTunes accounts. Those who want to stay on the right side of the law, however, are growing increasingly frustrated.
Can Willis change things? I doubt it. That being said, if he really goes out guns blazing, maybe he will bring some attention to the issue, which can’t hurt.
Image credit: stock.xchng
Update on September 3: Bruce Willis’ wife, Emma Heming, has sent out the following tweet, indicating the story could be false:
@richied_ it’s not a true story
— Emma Heming-Willis (@EmmaHeming) September 3, 2012
I will update you when I hear more.