In short, the answer is no. The internet and use of computers has changed the way we collect items such as music and books and other content. Not only what we buy, but anything we write on the internet, as soon as we press ‘submit’ it is no longer ours to keep and claim as our own. It is no secret that Bruce Willis is considering suing Apple for the right to pass on his iTunes collection to his children and this has caused a stir.
If we take for instance the well known social media network, Facebook. Everything that’s written on there, is no longer ours to claim ownership of. Possession is nine tenths of the law. No it isn’t. Not any longer. When we deliver our words, our treasured memories, then there is nothing we can do if those words or pictures are used for nefarious purposes. We no longer own them. In the event of a Facebook page’s owner, dying, the content of that page cannot be passed on to the family, the space can be handed over to a person who proves that the person has died and that page can be turned into some form of memorial page. The same applies to written material purchased, if the person who has purchased the material, dies, that material cannot be transferred to any other person and the content cannot be transferred to any other device. With a physical book, while the content cannot be copied, because of copyright laws, once purchased, that book becomes, without a doubt, an item owned by the person who has purchased the book. He/she is then free to pass the book to anyone.
Emails are another area whereby there is confusion. Current law states that an email account is passed to the executors of the estate. However, trying to access the account is not so easy. There are reports that internet service providers and IT management service companies do not allow access to inactive accounts.
What is highlighted in the case of content ownership, is that the laws are very weak and media network providers appear to flaunt this in our faces. Social networks are relatively new, in the great scheme of life and the concept is miss-leading. The terms and conditions are barely read, we have little idea of the words we write or the pictures we post and what happens to them. It remains forever in the worldwide web and no longer owned by us. The downloading and purchasing of music and books may have saved us some shelf space and given us less to dust, but the ownership is an abyss of questions especially when content is used without our permission. It is perhaps time to reconsider what we buy and what we write, online.