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Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
November / December 2018
Editor's Lead In
Protecting Your Digital Assets
Who gets your music after you die?
Editorial By Greg Borrowman


Australian Hi-Fi Magazine November / December 2018


  Who owns your music if you die? I know it's not such a joyful topic to be talking about, but death is inevitable and even if you're one of those who believe in life after death, you can't take your music with you. (And if you're into rock ‘n roll, you won't be listening to any cloudy concerts, because all your heroes will probably be in the other place...)

But back to the topic at hand. Who owns your music if you die? If you're old-school, and all your music is in hard currency, either on vinyl or optical disc — or, more likely, both — your children can fight over who gets what. (My kids would probably be encouraging each other to take the lot, as in ‘who'd want to listen to dad's music?') My tip to them is that since I think at my last count that I owned around 10,000 CDs, selling them could get one of them nearly half-way to a nice new car, even if they only got a buck each for them at a garage sale.

But I do have some music stored in the cloud. Maybe my wife would like to listen to that music some time, streamed down to our her hi-fi system? Herein lies a problem. Since the cloud access is in my name, she might not have access to it after I'm dead. There seems to be some legal debate about exactly who owns your digital assets after you die — your Facebook page, your internet site, your cloud storage, your Tidal or Roon accounts... not to mention any so-called ‘life-time' subscriptions to music software programs such as MediaMonkey or dBPoweramp.


Australian Hi-Fi Magazine November / December 2018


So if you die, and the company storing and/or supplying your digital assets becomes aware of your passing, all your ‘stuff' could just vanish.

Earlier this year the NSW Law Reform Commission issued a consultation paper titled ‘Access to Digital Assets Upon Death or Incapacity' that raised such questions as: Who should be able to access those assets? What assets should they be able to access? What purposes should they be able to access them for? What documentation should be needed to authorise access? What restrictions should there be? It also posed such questions as: If a law was introduced to provide third party access to a person's digital assets, how should those assets be defined and how could the law balance privacy considerations with access rights? There's also the problem of how to address conflicting provisions in service agreements, particularly in cases when an agreement uses a law from some other jurisdiction.

We'll have to wait to hear the outcome of this paper but in the meantime, my advice is that you should make a record of all your digital assets, including the URLs, login-ins, passwords and email addresses associated with those assets, as well as the methods made to make payments (PayPal, Direct Debit etc) if these are ongoing, and the log-ins and passwords associated with those accounts as well. This information should then be stored as hard copy at a licensed document storage facility to which another family member has access.


--- Greg Borrowman



Australian Hi-Fi Magazine

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