Clear rules needed for managing digital afterlife

Rights and licenses for digital assets

You will have to be extremely cautious when discussing about your rights on the digital goods that you are using. Sometimes you own your assets, but in some other cases, you do not really own them. For example, you may not own an ebook the same way you own a hardcover, paper-based, physical book — or music they same way you have CDs at home. If we take the example of the Mac App Store, we might see in the Terms of purchase (which of course you had carefully and thoughtfully read) that you buy a license to use, not a good that you own — and the public realized this after an outburst of actor Bruce Willis.

Some other services, like trusts, can be used to transfer the license to a .. trust. That’s what, for example, a Digital Asset Protection Trust# “can manage these assets and allow those who you pre select to access them without violations of the license terms and without potential liability to others”.

We’re of course not advising you to try to break the law, but you can make it easier for your beneficiaries to access the files that you once “had”. With a proper planning, you can make sure they will have all the cards in hands to receive what you wanted them to have. But having access is different from having the rights to listen to your former favorite songs!.

Who will get your iTunes when you die?

Template of a Will Clause For Digital Assets

(template)

My Trustee may access, handle, distribute, and dispose of my digital assets, and may obtain, access, modify, delete, and control my passwords and other electronic credentials associated with my digital devices and digital assets. My Trustee may engage contractors or agents to assist my Trustee in accessing, handling, distributing, and disposing of my digital assets. [OPTIONAL: Without restricting my Trustee, it is my wish that my Trustee engage to assist the Trustee in accessing, handling, distributing, and disposing of my digital assets.]

If I have prepared a memorandum, which may be altered by me from time to time, with instructions concerning my digital assets and their access, handling, distribution, and disposition, it is my wish that my Trustee and beneficiaries follow my instructions as outlined in that memorandum.

For the purpose of my Will, “digital assets” includes the following:

  1. Files stored on my digital devices, including but not limited to, desktops, laptops, tablets, peripherals, storage devices, mobile telephones, smartphones, and any similar digital device; and
  2. Emails received, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs, digital videos, software licenses, social network accounts, file sharing accounts, financial accounts, banking accounts, domain registrations, DNS service accounts, web hosting accounts, tax preparation service accounts, online stores, affiliate programs, other online accounts, and similar digital items, regardless of the ownership of any physical device upon which the digital item is stored.