In what will surely turn into a legal bloodbath should it ever actually happen, Bruce Willis is supposedly looking to take Apple to court over who owns the rights to his huge music collection. You see, when folks buy music via iTunes — or nearly any other digital distributor — they’re not actually purchasing something that they can then hand off. In most cases, they’re purchasing a license for personal use. It gets worse: These licenses are typically nontransferable.
Apple’s Terms and Conditions are pretty convoluted, but it all comes back to the fact that this data users have downloaded, regardless of label, artist, or anything else, isn’t really their music to do with as they please. The Next Web picked out a specific passage from the “Scope of License” section that’s about as clear as Apple gets:
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.
To summarize, users aren’t allowed to share any of these downloads with any device they don’t own or control. With Mr. Willis thinking about passing on his music collection to his children, Rumer, Scout, Tallulah, and Mabel, this has suddenly become a point of legal contention. Under the strict license, that would almost certainly be an illegal maneuver.
Willis bringing this charge to bear could certainly set a precedent. Most of these absurd licensing agreements can actually be traced back to record labels, which should surprise absolutely nobody, but it’s Apple’s enforcement of their own policy that would be on trial here. Should they end up conceding this fight, it might just provide the necessary spark to ignite a revolt against all similar licensing agreements.
That, or Willis and Apple could settle out of court for an undisclosed amount.
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