Die Hard trilogy star Bruce Willis is reportedly considering legal actions against Apple over iTunes policy which governs the ownership of digital music files. The actor has amassed a music collection worth thousands of dollars that is being accessed via “many, many iPods”.

The action hero is keen on handing his vast digital music collection legitimately to his daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallaluh upon his death. Conversely, Willis has eventually discovered that under Apple’s pesky rules one does not actually own the tracks and instead borrows them under a non-transferable license.

Deciding enough is enough, the 57-year-old actor is reportedly prepping to unleash legal sharks on Apple in order to break Cupertino’s restrictive digital content policy, which could have major repercussions given Apple’s choke-hold of the music market…

UPDATE: Bruce Willis’s wife Emma Heming-Willis took to Twitter to debunk tabloid reports.

Neil Sears, writing for The Daily Mail, reports:

 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.

British tabloid The Sun also published the story.

Willis is reportedly supporting proposed legislation in five U.S. states that aims to give downloaders more rights to their digital content.

He’s also considering another interesting option which calls for his lawyers establishing family trusts as the “holders” of his downloaded music.

Actually, this same issue also piqued my interest three years ago, when I argued in a piece over at Bright Side of News* that Apple should allow folks to sell the apps they had bought for their iPhone.

I wrote:

When you think of it, this should be imposed by the letter of the law. You can legally sell purchased boxed software to anyone so why wouldn’t the same customer freedom apply to downloadable software for mobile devices?

I also wonder why it is taking so long for consumer advocates to bring this issue before the general public and pressure Apple into providing a satisfactory solution.

Over at Geek.com, I also opined that people should be entitled to read electronic books on whatever device they choose, regardless of their platform or device preference.

Now, Apple’s iTunes Store terms of service don’t specifically mention the transfer of ownership rights to purchased songs to another person.

As for mobile and desktop apps sold via the App Store and the Mac App Store, Apple’s policy is clear: your rights to purchased apps are limited to a nontransferable license to use them only on iOS devices and Macs that you own or control.

Music ownership was managed in a stricter manner back in the days when Apple had been enclosing music files in its FairPlay digital rights management solution to prevent unauthorized use.

Then Apple dropped DRM in favor of unprotected MP3s, making it easy to create copies of songs for personal use and play tracks on non-Apple devices. It’s the lack of DRM which also complicates any possible solution that might enable one to legally weave rights to their songs and transfer ownership to any one person.

Why?

Because those unprotected MP3s can now be easily be copied and used on multiple devices (though Apple still embeds a buyer’s Apple ID in song meta data).

At the end of the day, it’s a legal rather than technical matter.

All Apple needs to do is talk to labels, gain approvals for broader music rights and update iTunes terms of service.

Do you think Apple should broaden our rights to use digital content purchased via its many stores?

  • Im wondering who paid him to say that..

  • Ignacio Irigoyen

    Die hard is not a trilogy (there are 4 movies… So far)

    • I refuse to accept the last movie as a part of the Die Hard movies…

      • new die hard in feburary!

  • Gerard Hampton

    yippie-ki-yaaay mofos!

  • What am I not getting here? He merely has to leave his children his Apple ID and Apple devices where his music is stored and when he dies, the kids can do anything they want with his music.

    • His daughters prob have their own accounts this is a problem that needs to be solved I have two brothers who I wish had their own accounts but could use the music bought with our main account that we have had for seven years now. It gets annoying especially with iCloud syncing. If they post a reminder on their iPhone it goes on my Mac and my iPhone and I don’t want to receive this stuff. And he has an iPad so it’s not like I could just turn iCloud off on his devices that wouldn’t be fair.

    • Mohammad Ridwan

      Actually he can’t, It’s against iTunes TOS

      • But why not? The kids would inherit his gadgets. It should be like anything else one inherits. Which, I guess, takes us back to the purpose of this article.

      • Mohammad Ridwan

        Exactly

    • his kids cant use his apple id if he is dead. that would fall under the fraud law you cant use a dead mans info. you could change the payment info and that might work but his name would still be on the account under the email address which will have his information on it. the only way to do it without breaking the law is to get his email address that he uses with apple and change the name under that account and then proceed to do the same with apple itunes.

      • Well then something needs to change. Maybe adding a clause re inheritance? Benefactors? Something?

      • Thus why he’s ticked off.

  • CollegiateLad

    Umm… Apple doesn’t own the rights to the music.

  • If he win, Im going to sue not only Apple but PSN, XBOX Live, Steam, Origin and almost any digital company out there who sells music, games, movies and books.

    and btw, make sense that we should get better ways to “give” our digital stuff to other people. But i know it’s hard because I could download the music, give my ownership to a friend, he downloads, he gives his ownwership to another friend, that friend downloads the music… and all of the 3 have a “original copy”.

    So Bruce, you can still leave your user id and password to your daughters or make sure you have an external harddisk to download all the musics you bought.

  • Apple’s ludacris restrictions is why I’ve never bought a song from iTunes. I buy most mp3s from Amazon and the rest from the artist’s websites.

    • Hypothetical question, since I don’t know if you have daughters or not.

      Can you leave your Amazon digital music collection to your daughters?

      • Don’t see why not. But one thing I know for sure, I can leave as many mp3s to them on as many iPods as I like!

      • Same for Bruce Willis. So…why atacking iTunes if the whole system like that… thats the point. But this story was fake, like I’ve read a few minutes ago.

  • SuperchargedNL

    “Rumer, Scout and Tallaluh”
    Seriously, these are actual names of people..?

  • BLTKOR

    I think this is the only downside to buying digital content, old legacy devices gave you something you can hold in your hand ( walkman = cassette tape DVD players CD players etc) but now you pay £10 or $10 for a digital copy of a film or music which to me seams very expensive as before the CD/DVD cost & packaging & artwork would justify some of the cost now your paying for your internet connection + your content. I can understand where he is coming from but that is why you have fine print i mean surely a guy who signs contracts worth millions reads fineprint or terms and conditions?

  • ghulamsameer

    If you stand back, this is story is pretty funny actually.

  • Still not getting this. If the music is on, say Bruce’s iPad, then there’s your library. Enjoy!

    • You’re technically using his account since the music is linked to it, which is technically using his info. If he’s dead, that’s against the law.
      It’s stupid, really.

      • Yes, it is beyond stupid. Isn’t there some sort of Inheritance Law? Something? Anything? I don’t think Apple intended this to be so rigid. It’s as if they didn’t think far enough when they issued their Terms Of Agreement. That’s lawyers for you! Ha!

  • ridonkulous

    Never have nor will I ever buy an iTunes song. I either download as mp3 or buy cd and rip it to mp3. They will always be mine saved on external hd.

  • Andy

    Software companies and programmers are control freaks. If somebody buys a chair, and later wants to resell that chair in a yard sale or something, the manufacturer of said chair makes nothing off of the second transaction. Software companies have been trying to get around this for years with single use licenses and such because they think they’re gods.

  • i think is stupid to buy music in itunes….its better to have music for free….if u know what i mean

    • I’m sure ever musician agrees with you. They hate getting paid for their work as much as you hate getting paid for all the work you do.