Can rights to digital media be passed along to one's heirs?

With all of the money I have been spending on e-books and a bit on music and videos, over the years, I'm wondering if anyone has heard anything as to whether the rights to read, listen and view can be passed along to one's heirs?

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Thanks Michael. Although I started off the thread with a question, what I am attempting to convey is there is more discussion that I would like to see beyond the immediate legal answers to the questions. As the legal questions are discussed, there are the broader Economic and business implications. The answers provided are useful in my view, but for me are not the full end of the discussion. I'd rather not get that picky and start a new thread because my interest goes beyond the immediate legal and best-practices answers, and beyond my own use questions, but I can see how I framed things a bit thoughtlessly or a bit narrowly.  If it becomes apparent that I have simply misjudged the optimal way to frame the discussion, will consider starting another follow-on thread in the future that might be more appropriate.

I'll add that I like to discuss not only what is the law, but what, ideally, should or should not be the law.  I do think most people understand these can be different things, but I found recently in discussion with an otherwise smart person (who works in law enforcement) that they seemed kind of clueless on this point, so am spelling it out.


 Reply by Michael Penn 15 hours ago

Some of us here have tried to answer your questions for you and I have seen some excellent answers. My quote that you are showing is not exactly for the question you want answered. When you start using copyrighted material of any sort to make money in any way you need the express permission of the copyright holders. That's about the best I can tell you.

From a legal standpoint for most digital content, No.

User Licence Agreements which you sign whenever you purchase any media in digital format (though its likely you've never read it, few people do). Is written in such a way that you are not actually buying a product. In essence all that stuff you think you own? You don't legally own it. What you've purchased is simply the right to use it. That right can also be revoked at any time according to most standard ULA's

Of course if your books are in PDF or other easily transferable formats then no one can stop you from giving them to anyone else. Technically that would likely be illegal in many cases (though not all), but even then no one would likely know unless you were sending them to lots of people in a torrent on the internet.

I should note.... You could just give your heirs your accounts, it wouldn't exactly be legal, but no one would be able to find out. Just give them your user names and logins to whatever content you want them to have access too. They'll have to update payment methods but as long as it is your account accessing the data, no one will know the difference.

I must put a disclaimer, my education is in information security. The information I provide is purely for educational purposes and to help better understand the systems in place on the subject. I in no way condone piracy, or the illegal dissemination of copy-write materiel. Nor do I condone or encourage anyone to bypass digital copy-write protections.

From a legal standpoint for most digital content, No.

User Licence Agreements which you sign whenever you purchase any media in digital format (though its likely you've never read it, few people do). Is written in such a way that you are not actually buying a product. In essence all that stuff you think you own? You don't legally own it. What you've purchased is simply the right to use it. That right can also be revoked at any time according to most standard ULA's

Of course if your books are in PDF or other easily transferable formats then no one can stop you from giving them to anyone else. Technically that would likely be illegal in many cases (though not all), but even then no one would likely know unless you were sending them to lots of people in a torrent on the internet.

[...]

I should note.... You could just give your heirs your accounts, it wouldn't exactly be legal, but no one would be able to find out. Just give them your user names and logins to whatever content you want them to have access too. They'll have to update payment methods but as long as it is your account accessing the data, no one will know the difference.

I must put a disclaimer, my education is in information security. The information I provide is purely for educational purposes and to help better understand the systems in place on the subject. I in no way condone piracy, or the illegal dissemination of copy-write materiel. Nor do I condone or encourage anyone to bypass digital copy-write protections.

In that I would agree with your observations, The short answer to why we are in the situation we currently are in is simple. Money. Lets say Michael Angelo maintained ownership rights over his works and was able to re assign said ownership to some major corporate entity that could deny you access at any time of their choosing. And lets say later on down the road they decided to create new versions of all of his art. They could then deny you access to the original and force you to buy the "new" version. Well there are countless other reasons or examples but they all boil down to the same basic tenant, Corporations are in love with money, they have no interest in selling you a product, or even creating a product, the only thing they care about is getting your money. Through any means necessary. They sat down with lawyers and found ways to fuck you over. And that's all it is plain and simple. This sparked a resistance of sort in my industry that fights their bullshit on several levels.

On one side you have the pirates (arrrg) who develop methods of bypassing copy-write protections. If you haven't noticed, despite my profession I certainly can not justifiably demonize the pirates for their activities. I simply prefer to work within the system to create the same end goals.

On the other side you have what can ostensibly be called the GNU project, or Open Source Licencing. Keep in mind in Germany Copy-write protections built into software are illegal. You can legally purchase that content (say going to gog.com to buy video games license free). The responsibility is on you to follow laws once you own a copy, but you can legally install that software on any and every computer you own. Just like you could before the companies decided to fuck you over.

I could seriously fill this entire thread with a giant wall of text on the topic from every angle, but seeing as I once had a college professor threaten to fail me from a class for turning in a 60 page paper on the subject, I doubt it would be any more well received here. In short, my teacher impressed the importance upon me of brevity, though I still struggle with the concept at times.

No joke that teacher was dyslexic and was REALLY pissed that I turned in such a long paper when he only expected and wanted about 5 pages.

Ben, without the pirates I couldn't even watch TV. Some of these guys are my friends. I live in both worlds here.

Yea, I totally get that. And that ties into some of the broader questions the OP may have been looking for. For instance piracy has in a number of cases resulted in an increase of revenue for the content creator. This is because those who pirate will usually spend money on something they like, thanks to the pirates the media hits a wider audience and finally the content creator usually makes more money on merchandising than on the media itself.

A good example of this would be Game of Thrones, which was both one of HBO's most pirated TV show, and also one of its most successful show's ever which earned TONS of money for the company.

I would also point out that creators don't make shit off their creations, not when compared to how much the company which hosts their work is calculated in. HBO pays those involved in their TV shows a tiny fraction of the money those shoes actually make. In a broader economic sense, its similar to how productivity continually rises yet our pay never reflects the increase in productivity in our work. Why even be more productive if the bosses are just gonna steal our money and keep it for themselves? We have some serious issues in our economy at all levels created by corporate bullshit.

Jeez, I never thought about that. My son, Craig, gets my hundreds of books that now reside in boxes in my bedroom at Laura's or in my basement in my home of 41+ years. I have been buying ebooks and love the ease of carrying around my library. If I am hung up in a waiting room, I can open my library and enjoy myself. How long will my ebooks last after I am dead, my computers are out of date, and my heirs have nothing of this investment/expense? I consider my books, whether ebooks or paper books, as investments. 

Is the solution to transfer my present ebooks when new technology comes out so that at least my heirs can choose from the collection?

Or, do the ebooks just evaporate into the air when the equipment fails? 

Joan, why is there no text in your reply? Is the error on my end, or did A/N mess up when you tried to post?

I'm pointing it out cause I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

As happens too often with me, I have several messages going at once and sometimes I accidentally forget and send off an empty message, or I fail to realize I have a message under construction and in the confusion, I delete it. I think that is what happened here. 

I am not interested in passing on my account for their personal purchases; they can open accounts of their own if they want to. What I am concerned about is what happens to the books I purchased and have in my computer library when I die. The paper books will become part of my estate; what about my ebooks. Will my family be able to access my ebooks that are bought and for which I have paid? How can I make sure they inherit them? . 

Ah, well unfortunately thanks to the licence agreement you signed when you purchased the digital content, your licence only provides you specifically access to that data. 

Technically you paid for access to the content, not the content itself. In other-words the books you purchased on your computer aren't yours. All you've done is purchased "access rights" to those books. You don't own them. I really don't like this system, however its how it is and I am powerless to change it. All I can do is explain it since most people never get told these things.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It sucks I know.

BenGee, I am grateful for the information and know exactly where I stand. I might as well buy the books and have something of value to hand to my kids.

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