Bruce Willis Considering Lawsuit Against Apple Over iTunes Store Music Transferability [Updated]

Several reports over the weekend, including from The Sun and the Daily Mail, are claiming that actor Bruce Willis is considering taking legal action against Apple to address the issue of transferability of iTunes Store music purchases. According to the reports, Willis wants his daughters to be able to inherit his iTunes music upon his death, but Apple's terms prohibit any transfer of ownership.

The Hollywood action hero is said to be considering legal action against technology giant Apple over his desire to leave his digital music collection to his daughters.

If he succeeds, he could benefit not just himself and his family but the millions who have purchased songs from Apple’s iTunes Store.

Willis has discovered that, like anyone who has bought music online, he does not actually own the tracks but is instead ‘borrowing’ them under a licence.

As an alternative to legal action against Apple, Willis is also said to be considering setting up a family trust to own his iTunes music.

Curiously, we can find no restrictions on transferability of iTunes Store music content in the lengthy terms and conditions. While Apple is clear that apps sold through both the Mac App Store and the iOS App Store are distributed under a nontransferable license, the current version of the document makes no reference to any such licensing and transferability restrictions for other types of content such as music.

Apple shifted its entire music store to iTunes Plus content in early 2009, removing copying and device limitations from tracks sold through the marketplace. Many users undoubtedly still own restricted non-Plus tracks, but in most cases those can be upgraded to their corresponding Plus versions at relatively low cost.

Ultimately, ownership and copyright on music sold through the iTunes Store are held by record labels who may attempt to dictate transferability, but Apple's own terms do not appear to address such issues on a blanket basis in their current state.

Update: According to a tweet from Willis' wife, the story is untrue.

(Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Top Rated Comments

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105 months ago
I think he is DAMN right! If you can leave your CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays, books to your family when you die, you should be able to leave digital contents too!
Score: 138 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago
Yippe Ka Ye Macrumors!
Score: 82 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago
I thought this was relevant

Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago

Yippe Ka Ye Macrumors!

D@mn, you beat me to it! lol

On point, I was never a big fan of Willis, however if this rings true I'll be giving him a lot of cred.

This isn't about "money" but principle. People used to own physical media, vinyls/8 tracks/tapes/CD's, and we could use that media as we pleased. Why has this changed for digital media? Yes, pirating is more widespread, however people used to make mixed tapes, copies, etc. of their music before the digital advent. There should be no reason your PURCHASED media cannot be given away, especially as, well, you're dead.*

- You can get "iTunes Match" for a year and have your library upgraded to DRM free tracks with higher bit-rates (should they need it)

- Isn't most of Apple's music DRM free now?

- Requiem - DRM removal app ;)

- Years back Jobs suggested a method in removing DRM from iTunes tracks (he hated DRM but the RIAA wouldn't make the deal w/o protection):
Use a CD+RW and produce a script to burn your library, then rip it off the CD into iTunes. DRM gone. I did this years ago and it worked flawlessly.

The dude's going to bat for us, using his money to defend the "little guys". You think he cares? He can buy his music 1,000x and still be loaded. Good for him, and thank you! :)

EDIT: I just got read by someone stating I "missed the point". To re-emphasize, I agree with Willis' decision and believe that if you own the media, may it be physical or digital, you should be able to do with it as you please (of course, profiting off it is another matter). My examples were simply suggestions OT for those wanting to legally remove DRM (aside from Requiem of course)
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago
Coming this Christmas to a theater near you
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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105 months ago
The amount of fanboys is too damn high. Of course he's right. Everything you BUY, you BUY, not rent. What you BUY is yours, forever. This is a hole in the current digital music platform age!
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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