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I bought it so I own it!

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Well, if the thing you bought is a music download you probably don’t. Instead, you will have purchased a license to play the track or album and that license will have come with an extremely limited set of rights. In particular, that license is likely to be for your “personal use” which means that you cannot transfer the music to anyone else. The same applies for e-books, film and television downloads and apps.

This issue has been in the news recently following rumours that Bruce Willis is set to take on the might of Apple to clarify who owns his iTunes library and whether his daughters may inherit it after he dies. Although the reports have not been confirmed and it looks like they are not true, it does bring the matter to the public’s attention.

Most people, including me, are guilty of downloading something without reading the terms and conditions first and will be surprised to discover the legal status of their download collection. It really is a case of the law not catching up with technology and this issue needs to be considered and dealt with by law makers sooner rather than later as many of us are amassing thousands of pounds’ worth of books, music, film, television shows and apps. It’s only right that we should be able to pass such valuable assets on to our family and friends when we die.

So what can you do until the law catches up with the digital age? If you want to be able to leave it to a loved one in your will the answer is to buy a paper copy of the book, a CD or a DVD. Old fashioned I know, but it also means that you can lend the book, music track, film or television programme to a friend and sell it or give it to a charity shop if you have no use for it any more.