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Delaware Enacts Law Allowing Heirs To Access Digital Assets of Deceased

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 months ago | from the facebook-after-death dept.

Technology 82

An anonymous reader writes Ars reports: "Delaware has become the first state in the U.S .to enact a law that ensures families' rights to access the digital assets of loved ones during incapacitation or after death." In other states, the social media accounts and email of people who die also die with them since the companies hosting those accounts are not obligated to transfer access even to the heirs of the deceased. In Delaware, however, this is no longer the case. The article notes that even if the deceased was a resident of another state, if his/her will is governed by Delaware law, his/her heirs will be allowed to avail of the new law and gain access to all digital assets of the deceased.

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The horse has bolted and been beaten to death. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701411)

While this well illustrates another evil of the cloud - the data was never really the living person's, so why would it follow normal law of being passed onto the deceased's estate? - it's nice to see that a responsible government is stepping in to regulate antisocial corporate behaviour.

Unfortunately, in a world so stupid that it accepts a return to the dumb terminals and the mainframes of 40+ years ago, a little bit of foresight is a desalination plant in an ocean of piss.

Or (2)

penguinoid (724646) | about 2 months ago | (#47701431)

You could just give them your password.

Re:Or (4, Insightful)

ruir (2709173) | about 2 months ago | (#47701449)

There are too many implications. While I am trustworthy of my family, and my father could have robbed me blind and fuck up all my life, I know he would not do that. However, it is not the first and last case where some old people found a new love, and the family takes away all their assets. The ideal is to leave the password, or better yet, some means of changing it, in a sealed enveloped, together with your will. (better some means of changing it, because in the improbable case of foul play, you will know it). Nevertheless, the inheritance of accounts, specially of accounts that control movies or music go against the desire of the industry or selling, reselling and reselling again the same movies and musics to every citizen.

Re:Or (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701691)

industry can go suck a big fat dick. I paid for access to some files, what I do with sais access is nobodys business. If I give it as a gift to someone else it should be ok. If I die and that access goes to someone else it should be ok. Or did I actually just pay for some kind of personal use license? If I did so, please resend me the files I accidently deleted. I still have the license I paid for, right? Can I d/l the media from somewhere, or make back up copies of it?

Pick a goddamn business model, tell us what it is, or go pound sand. Fucking bait-and-switchers. Die in fire.

Re: Or (1, Interesting)

frikken lazerz (3788987) | about 2 months ago | (#47701775)

How about you read the terms and conditions before paying for something? If you just paid for the access, you're basically renting it and they can revoke your access at any time. If you don't like this, then don't buy their services and they will either change their business model or go out of business. Simple as that.

Re: Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47703391)

How about we put Terms and Conditions in human parseable language first before we start blaming everyone for not reading? I don't mind the hour it takes to puzzle through whatever EULA, TOS, Conditions or what have you, I am just tired on not being sure what they are actually saying when I am done. We need some sort of consumer rights laws that balance the fairness of these sorts of transactions. It would be nice if my fellow countrymen would just not do business with these types of companies, but unfortunately there are enough of them who think not at all, that this has become the standard way of operating and that leaves those of us who do care out in the cold. For us it's now either accept the bullshit or live in a cave.

Re: Or (1)

Rakarra (112805) | about 2 months ago | (#47707517)

How about we put Terms and Conditions in human parseable language first before we start blaming everyone for not reading?

Maybe if we tried to read the agreements that we signed, and we bitched and pestered companies, those Terms and Conditions would shrink.
But really, the real reason they're so long is that it's a legal agreement, and legal agreements cannot contain ambiguity. Every edge condition has to be thought of, parsed, and explained.

Re: Or (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47703481)

How about you go learn about the First Sale doctrine and fuck off? There are a lot of products (not services) that shouldn't "magically" stop being products just because they're "on a computer!"

Re: Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47704417)

Apparently you know nothing about First Sale doctrine. The doctrine protects you from legal recourse (i.e. a defense against lawsuits, in court) against your right to resell a product, it does not force the product seller to assist you or even make it possible for you to sell or transfer access though. Next time you want to try an look smart by waving around a term you heard elsewhere, at least take 5 minutes to peruse the Wikipedia article.

Re: Or (1)

Rakarra (112805) | about 2 months ago | (#47707471)

If I rent a disc from Blockbuster, ermm.... Redbox or whatever, I don't get to keep it and shout "First Sale" if they ask for it back. If you're SOLD something, you can keep it. If you're rented access, you don't get to keep it.

Content industries have been trying to move from a sale model to a pay-per-view model for a number of years, and the "let's stream everything, why would I want a physical disc anymore??" crowd have been helping them along.

Re:Or (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701457)

... and the keys to your house, car, number of your credit cards and access to the storage-box at your bank.

Its not like you have anything to hide or that some heirs simply can't be trusted ...

Re:Or (5, Interesting)

Jiro (131519) | about 2 months ago | (#47701511)

Some people have already replied that you might not be able to trust everyone with your password, but that's only one of the problems. The other problem is that although your heirs may be able to physically read the password from your sealed envelope and type it in, just typing in the password won't make your access authorized. Trying to download the deceased's ebooks, music, or apps would be piracy, and even just revealing that you accessed the account (by trying to use the information in it in a billing dispute, or to take it to the press if it is whistleblowing in nature, for instance) could subject you to a selectively prosecuted hacking charge in court to get you to shut up.

And even if you don't actually get in legal trouble for accessing the account, companies could use the illegal nature of the access to refuse to do things that they would do upon request of the account owner, such as closing the account (if you want it closed), leaving the account open (if you want to keep paying for it), or restoring or sending you a backup.

Re:Or (2)

turning in circles (2882659) | about 2 months ago | (#47702113)

It's Delaware. Give it a few years and there will probably be a form such as an electronic power of attorney, akin to a medical durable power of attorney, that will explain to the next of kin the rights and limitations of what can be passed on, and how to access the information. Probably other states will follow suit as soon as the wrinkles are worked out (and it is made clear what cloud-stored information is inheritable and what is not).

Re:Or (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 2 months ago | (#47702171)

In addition, it would make sense for certain on-line accounts to provide options for access in case of death or incapacitation. Particularly those with backup data storage, and probably email as well.

Re:Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47702257)

just typing in the password won't make your access authorized. Trying to download the deceased's ebooks, music, or apps would be piracy,

Having the password does not make you authorized. But being a dead persons heir, authorize you to take control of their posessions. Downloading the deceased's music is not piracy. similiar to how using the door key to enter the deceaseds home and grab the furniture is not burglary. It is all yours now - assuming the testament was not contested and all the heirs agreed on who gets what. Your brother got the sofa, you got the ebook collection, ...

and even just revealing that you accessed the account (by trying to use the information in it in a billing dispute, or to take it to the press if it is whistleblowing in nature, for instance) could subject you to a selectively prosecuted hacking charge in court to get you to shut up.

That would be a frivolous lawsuit then. Using a password obtained through legal means is not hacking in any sense of the word.

Re:Or (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#47702871)

Having the password does not make you authorized. But being a dead persons heir, authorize you to take control of their posessions. Downloading the deceased's music is not piracy. similiar to how using the door key to enter the deceaseds home and grab the furniture is not burglary. It is all yours now - assuming the testament was not contested and all the heirs agreed on who gets what. Your brother got the sofa, you got the ebook collection, ...

The deceased, unless they created the music, does not own the music. The purchased a license for them to listen to the music. Same with ebooks. You aren't buying anything, you are licensing the content. Most of these things are licensed to specific users (the one paying the fee) and are not licensed where anyone can use it as long as it is only one person at a time (although some are). However, the deceased party created the music, or photos or whatever, then they, as copyright owner, do own it. That is of course unless the service you turned it over to includes that you transferred copyright to them.

In short, except for user created content, there is no electronic data to inherit.

Sale by another name (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 months ago | (#47703507)

Chances are it was sold to them with a buy button and the description of the product was the product not the licence to the product. Chances are the payment was one time payment for permanent access to the copy. This is the definition of a sale. Calling a sale by another name does not change it from being a sale.

Re:Sale by another name (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#47704903)

Chances are it was sold to them with a buy button and the description of the product was the product not the licence to the product. Chances are the payment was one time payment for permanent access to the copy. This is the definition of a sale. Calling a sale by another name does not change it from being a sale.

Unfortunately, it does. You also don't usually buy software. It may look like a sale and even be called a sale, but you are accepting a license to use the product in a manner that the owner of the product deems appropriate. If it were a true sale, you would be the owner and thus could do with it whatever you want. Also, for a sale to take place, there has to be an exchange money for tangible property. Electronic distribution has already been determined by the courts not to be tangible personal property, so again, there cannot be a sale.

In reality, it makes no difference what the transaction is called, it is all about who retains ownership and with electronic content, it is not, usually, the person paying for it.

Re:Sale by another name (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 months ago | (#47706617)

That depends on where you live. In Europe you have

European Court of Justice ruled on July 3, 2012, that it is indeed permissible to resell software licenses even if the digital good has been downloaded directly from the Internet, and that the first-sale doctrine applied whenever software was originally sold to a customer for an unlimited amount of time, as such sale involves a transfer of ownership, thus prohibiting any software maker from preventing the resale of their software by any of their legitimate owners

In the United States the issue is working its way through the courts. Basically some courts are willing to call a spade a spade. And know a sale when they see one.

Re:Or (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47703527)

The deceased, unless they created the music, does not own the music. The purchased a license for them to listen to the music.

Bullshit. They most certainly do own that copy of the music, and none of your ridiculous FUD and RIAA shilling will change that.

Re:Or (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#47704987)

The deceased, unless they created the music, does not own the music. The purchased a license for them to listen to the music.

Bullshit. They most certainly do own that copy of the music, and none of your ridiculous FUD and RIAA shilling will change that.

It has nothing to do with the RIAA. An mp3 file is not considered tangible personal property, the media it is on is, however. It is also not considered real property (ie land and buildings). As such, there is nothing to transfer or inherit. Now, if the files are stored on a local computer, that is personal property and you can inherit that. However, your remote hosted drive is not owned by you and cannot be inherited.

I can buy a book and somebody can inherit it. I cannot buy a pattern of electrons called an ebook and somebody inherit it. You can only inherit tangible personal or real property. An ebook or other electronic media may have a license that allows it to be assigned to another person, in which case somebody else may have access to it after your death, but 1) most do not and 2) if they do, you still don't inherit it. Like the original purchaser, you don't own it, you just have a license to use it.

Re:Or (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47706137)

An mp3 file is not considered tangible personal property... I can buy a book and somebody can inherit it. I cannot buy a pattern of electrons called an ebook and somebody inherit it.

Nobody except the RIAA, MPAA, et. al. has ever made a legal argument that such a distinction exists. I do not believe it exists. I do not believe that any court has ruled that such a distinction exists or that any law has been enacted that creates such a distinction. I think you are an RIAA (et al) shill, spreading FUD.

Now put up or shut up.

Re:Or (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#47707411)

An mp3 file is not considered tangible personal property... I can buy a book and somebody can inherit it. I cannot buy a pattern of electrons called an ebook and somebody inherit it.

Nobody except the RIAA, MPAA, et. al. has ever made a legal argument that such a distinction exists. I do not believe it exists. I do not believe that any court has ruled that such a distinction exists or that any law has been enacted that creates such a distinction. I think you are an RIAA (et al) shill, spreading FUD.

Now put up or shut up.

It doesn't matter what you believe, only what the law/courts say. There are ample court cases, most of it under state sales and use tax laws to show that electronic content is not a sale but a contract agreement to use it. That's one of the reasons there are federal proposals to tax edelivery of content -- because current tangible property laws don't apply. It has nothing to do with the RIAA or MPAA. It has to do with 200 years of property law. Like all laws, if you don't like it, work to change it.

Re:Or (0)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 2 months ago | (#47712193)

There are ample court cases

O really? Then cite one or fuck off!

Re:Or (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47703699)

Some people have already replied that you might not be able to trust everyone with your password, but that's only one of the problems. The other problem is that although your heirs may be able to physically read the password from your sealed envelope and type it in, just typing in the password won't make your access authorized. Trying to download the deceased's ebooks, music, or apps would be piracy, and even just revealing that you accessed the account (by trying to use the information in it in a billing dispute, or to take it to the press if it is whistleblowing in nature, for instance) could subject you to a selectively prosecuted hacking charge in court to get you to shut up.

Exactly. When my father died, I had the password to his stock account, because he used the same password he used for every account (sigh). However, I knew better than to trade his stocks. I had to file a bunch of paper work with the company to get my own estate account to manage. Using his password would have been breaking many laws with the possibility of serious jail time. Which is all the way it should be.

Good for music, movies and ebooks (4, Insightful)

Camembert (2891457) | about 2 months ago | (#47701495)

I don't care much for the social media accounts, but it is good that bought ebooks, music and movies should be accessible to next of kin, just like their physical counterparts are.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (4, Insightful)

ruir (2709173) | about 2 months ago | (#47701527)

The problem is that unless you have physical possession of the files in a non-gardenwalled environment, you probably do not own them, but you are just renting them.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47704957)

phewf, inherited dad's steam library, that's all that matters

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (4, Informative)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 2 months ago | (#47702021)

Unfortunately, that's not the case. Bruce Willis raised a fuss a while ago about not being able to leave his iTunes music collection to his children. The Ts and Cs state that the license to listen to the music is strictly non-transferrable. (He should have just "pirated" it instead).

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 2 months ago | (#47702379)

Unfortunately, that's not the case. Bruce Willis raised a fuss a while ago about not being able to leave his iTunes music collection to his children. The Ts and Cs state that the license to listen to the music is strictly non-transferrable. (He should have just "pirated" it instead).

This is basically the reason I don't use ebooks - with a paper book, I can buy it and read it, then my wife can read it, I can lend it to friends/family, it can sit on book shelves for years and then my kids can read it, their kids can read it decades later, or I can sell it, etc. All this stuff is considered the "normal" way to use a book. Compare to an ebook: I buy it. Then my wife has to buy it(*). Them my friends/family have to buy it. Then my kids have to buy it. Their kids have to buy it. See the problem?

(*) The T&Cs of Google Play, at least, say that not only aren't you able to transfer your purchases to another Play account, but you're not even allowed to lend your tablet to a family member for them to read stuff you purchased.

So until the publishers see sense, I'll continue to read paper books.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 2 months ago | (#47702805)

I like the convenience of ebooks as I don't have to worry about carrying around a dead-tree book and can instead just use my phone (or kindle etc) which is generally lighter. I recommend using Calibre [calibre-ebook.com] to transfer e-books around if you don't mind breaking the Ts&Cs.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | about 2 months ago | (#47702883)

I like the convenience of ebooks as I don't have to worry about carrying around a dead-tree book and can instead just use my phone (or kindle etc) which is generally lighter. I recommend using Calibre [calibre-ebook.com] to transfer e-books around if you don't mind breaking the Ts&Cs.

I'm aware that the DRM can be trivially removed, but if I'm going to have to break copyright law in order to actually use what I've purchased, I'm left wondering why I wouldn't just break copyright law *instead* of purchasing it in the first place?

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 2 months ago | (#47703199)

Absolutely. I typically purchase e-books when I want to support the author (e.g. Warren Ellis, Charles Stross) or when it's easier than finding an illegitimate source. However, a lot of the books I read are by dead authors, so I don't feel much guilt in depriving their heirs of a few pennies.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 2 months ago | (#47703159)

Compare to an ebook: I buy it. Then my wife has to buy it(*). Them my friends/family have to buy it. Then my kids have to buy it. Their kids have to buy it. See the problem?

I might be ok with this for certain books if ebooks were substantially cheaper. Currently even for books I don't want to keep
it's cheaper to buy the book, read it, and resell it on amazon. If a $20 paper book gives the author $7 of royalties then at
a maximum an ebook should be priced at about $7.50 but because you can't turn around and resell that ebook it should
probably be priced closer to $3 or less. If ebooks actually started being priced at a rental price then it would make alot more
sense to buy ebooks. I still prefer paper books and most of the times the paperback and used copies are cheaper than
the ebooks even before you include resell value and alot of that goes to shipping. I would love to see 30 day rental fees for
ebooks be priced at or below the paperback/used book price instead of ebooks being priced at 70% of the hardback price.
It makes no sense that I can get a NEW physical paperback book SHIPPED to me cheaper than I can buy the electronic version.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 months ago | (#47703489)

I might be ok with this for certain books if ebooks were substantially cheaper. Currently even for books I don't want to keep
it's cheaper to buy the book, read it, and resell it on amazon. If a $20 paper book gives the author $7 of royalties then at
a maximum an ebook should be priced at about $7.50 but because you can't turn around and resell that ebook it should
probably be priced closer to $3 or less. If ebooks actually started being priced at a rental price then it would make alot more
sense to buy ebooks. I still prefer paper books and most of the times the paperback and used copies are cheaper than
the ebooks even before you include resell value and alot of that goes to shipping. I would love to see 30 day rental fees for
ebooks be priced at or below the paperback/used book price instead of ebooks being priced at 70% of the hardback price.
It makes no sense that I can get a NEW physical paperback book SHIPPED to me cheaper than I can buy the electronic version.

What makes you think a traditional author deserves that much money off an ebook? Neverminding the 30% cut Amazon takes in self-publishing?

In the traditional print model (the one most authors do with publishers), the ONLY THING the author delivers the publisher is a block of text. That's all they're contracted to provide.

From there, a gaggle of other people work to transform that block of text into a book. Someone needs to do the cover art, another needs to go through and at least try to fix the most egregious errors (this back-and-forth with the author takes the longest as the editor will catch an error, and they need to confirm with the author that it's really an error and not deliberate), then revise, edit, consult, etc. Once that's done, Other things is that the publisher needs ISBNs, someone to do a table of contents, an index (if necessary), rework illustrations (with the illustrator - or the author because they have no qualms about submitting a 160x160 pixel image for a full page illustration) as well as securing rights to use third party images (photos, illustrations, etc) that the author may have included. And all the other stuff in a book including author bio and other front and back matter.

And then, someone has to go and take that final work, and lay it out on the page (real or electronic) - ensuring graphics, text, photos, etc are all properly laid out together, scaled properly, and that it looks good - that dark image you included may end up as a black square on e-readers, for example as they have a limited palette. And make sure chapter headings and all that other stuff are properly inserted, and linked and everything is in its place.

And somehow, you think the author who gets $7 out of a $30 book deserves to get it all when the ebook is priced $7.50? After Amazon's cut, that's $5 and the author would probably get $3 tops because those other guys behind the work don't work for free.

In fact, the editing process is such that the cost of printing, shipping, warehousing, distribution is really only around 10% of the retail cost.

So of a $30 hardcover, the publisher gets $20. And they probably need to price it at $27 to make up for the 30% cut at the electronic store (Amazon, Apple, Google, Kobo, whatever, and 30% is on the LOW side! Amazon "makes deals" at 30%, showing their real take is often far higher (30% being forced by Apple's flat-rate plan)).

Maybe $25 to make it a nice number since there's $3 in savings due to not having to actually print/ship/distribute/warehouse/handle returns.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 2 months ago | (#47708989)

In fact, the editing process is such that the cost of printing, shipping, warehousing, distribution is really only around 10% of the retail cost.

If the printing and shipping (including the cost of amazon to ship it to me) is really only 10% then I will never be buying an ebook unless forced to
because it's worth alot more than 10% to me to have the physical book plus the resale value of the book is almost always worth more than 10%.

So what you're basically saying is that ebooks can't afford to compete with paper books on price which I find utter nonsense.
Amazon might have to reduce their commission or they might have to rethink how they do it but it makes no sense that an ebook
shouldn't be able to compete with a paper book and currently they are many times priced higher than the paperback versions.
This might make sense if the paperback versions had advertisement or something to offset the cheaper price but I don't believe this
is the case so why is the paperback version cheaper than the ebook?

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

Rakarra (112805) | about 2 months ago | (#47707583)

This is basically the reason I don't use ebooks - with a paper book, I can buy it and read it, then my wife can read it, I can lend it to friends/family, it can sit on book shelves for years and then my kids can read it, their kids can read it decades later, or I can sell it, etc. All this stuff is considered the "normal" way to use a book. Compare to an ebook: I buy it. Then my wife has to buy it(*). Them my friends/family have to buy it. Then my kids have to buy it. Their kids have to buy it. See the problem?

Oh, and people used to make fun of Stallman's The Right to Read [gnu.org] for being so far-fetched. Almost everything in there has already happened, and it only took 20 years, not 100.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (2)

sherr (3751965) | about 2 months ago | (#47702487)

Except that contracts do not superced the law, so if it becomes law that your heirs get your digital property then that overrules anything in anyone's Ts and Cs.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 2 months ago | (#47702769)

I hope that'd be the case, but I worry that it's not considered "digital property", but just "digitally licensed to you".

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 2 months ago | (#47703371)

so if it becomes law that your heirs get your digital property

They do, now, in Delaware. But music that you've licensed doesn't belong to you. It was licensed. It will take a separate law to make music license purchases online into music purchases online.

Re:Good for music, movies and ebooks (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 2 months ago | (#47702893)

I don't care much for the social media accounts, but it is good that bought ebooks, music and movies should be accessible to next of kin, just like their physical counterparts are.

Ebboks, movies, etc. are not personal property. They are simply licenses to view the copyrighted content. Physical books, on the other hand are tangible property and can be given, willed, etc. Until the license agreements change, it won't matter what Delaware's law says. You cannot inherit from the deceased what is not theirs in the first place.

My porn collection (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701513)

Why would I want my porn collection going to my wife? I'd much rather give it to my girlfriend. After all, we bought most of it together.

Re:My porn collection (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 2 months ago | (#47701599)

Why would I want my porn collection going to my wife? I'd much rather give it to my girlfriend. After all, we bought most of it together.

Starred in it too I hear.

Re:My porn collection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47702289)

You keep your credit card in your fleshlight? E-e-e-e-w-w-w!!!!

Re:My porn collection (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | about 2 months ago | (#47702965)

several lies here.

1) you have a wife. c'mon, this is slashdot.
2) you have a girlfriend. see above.
3) you bought porn. really?

Re:My porn collection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47703217)

I'd much rather give it to my girlfriend.

I see what you did there...

Re:My porn collection (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 2 months ago | (#47709883)

My will is going to come with a copy of DBAN with explicit instructions to format all of my hard drives.

Why death? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701603)

So transferring digital goods on death is now allowed.

How about when I'm still alive?

Re:Why death? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701993)

Step 1. Move to Delaware and establish residence.
Step 2. Create a will transferring all your digital goods to your heirs.
Step 3. Become "incapacitated" (temporarily), so your heirs can retrieve your digital goods.
Step 4. Have a miraculous recovery and move back home.

Re:Why death? (2)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 2 months ago | (#47706741)

Sorry, no, we'll have to kill you first.

Over MY Dead Body! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701607)

oh, wait.

Okay so what happens if... (1)

darkitecture (627408) | about 2 months ago | (#47701699)

So I read the article and I still don't get how this particularly helps in many, many situations.

Let's assume for a second that a US citizen who ia a Delaware resident and has a will governed by Delaware law has died. How does this provide his/her heirs the ability to:

for example, a) access an account on a database/web forum located solely on a computer in California;
or b) access an account for an online store residing in let's say, Japan or Australia or Argentina?

in example a, the account is located in another state and the owner of the forum/computer as far as I understand it isn't bound by Delaware law. Let's assume for the sake of simplicity that in the case of the forum, the website is being hosted by a Californian ISP and there are no out-of-state colos that hold the same account data.

in example b, the account, store, website and ISP hosting the website all reside not only out of Delaware but out of the country.

I truly appreciate what a law like this is trying to achieve. One of my parents passed away a year ago and although it wasn't vital, it certainly would've been handy to be able to have had access to their webmail account. I don't want to sound like I'm discounting the law because it doesn't affect many people, it's just that from my understanding, the law seems either unenforceable and.or toothless.

Anybody who is a lawyer want to chime in?

Re:Okay so what happens if... (1)

Hodr (219920) | about 2 months ago | (#47702139)

They will do it the same way they always do. If the company is "out of state" but does business in Deleware, they can be sued in Deleware. Same if they are out of Country.

Now, how effectively can Deleware (or the US if it is out of country) claim the assets from the judgement, that is obviously case by case.

An example would be someone sueing Google. Google doesn't recognize Deleware's authority, doesn't show up for trial. Summary judgement for claimant in $XXX. Claimant then sees a Google StreetView car parked in a Motel 6, calls the Sheriff and has the car seized and turned over. Rinse and repeat until the value has been reclaimed.

Re:Okay so what happens if... (1)

UncannyCleric (3569773) | about 2 months ago | (#47702601)

Did you try doing a password reset on your parent's webmail account? I was able to do that to my mother's Yahoo account after she died (since she had set up her security questions with truthful answers), and I was then able to do the same for her Facebook account, which was tied to that email.

Granted, I had to actually ask one of my aunts for the answer to one of the questions, since it was about something we had never discussed, but overall it wasn't too difficult.

It was actually kind of humorous, since my mother always made a fuss about making me turn around when she would enter her password, and I would tell her that she was being silly, and that if I *really* wanted to get into her account, I could. Heh, I still get the mental image of the look on her face she would always get whenever something happened that enabled me to tell her "I told you so!".

Old Virtual Money (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701761)

"Did you earn that gold, or did your dad give it to you?" "Death to bourgeoisie Pandaren!"

Blizzard entertainment will not comply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701803)

They don't even recognize Community Property laws enacted by other states. It is a violation of Blizzard's TOS to let your spouse play using your battle.net account. They want you to purchase an entirely separate account.

They certainly will not recognize digital assets.

Re:Blizzard entertainment will not comply (1)

Your.Master (1088569) | about 2 months ago | (#47701921)

The actual law specifies not just digital assets, but also digital accounts. Your Battle.Net account is absolutely an account.

(Do people *really* want to take over Battle.Net accounts when their spouses die?)

Re:Blizzard entertainment will not comply (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47702355)

Do people *really* want to take over Battle.Net accounts when their spouses die?

Maybe one of their kids, who is also into such games, would play their parents character to honor and remember them by ?

But consider something simpler: a remaining family member who wants to inform his/her game-friends that their game-mate has passed away.

Re:Blizzard entertainment will not comply (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 2 months ago | (#47706485)

(Do people *really* want to take over Battle.Net accounts when their spouses die?)

If I die tomorrow, my family should absolutely inherit access to my steam and gog and other accounts. My kids play those games daily right now.

Why should they have to re-buy everything just because I got hit by a bus?

My will reads (3, Insightful)

Renozuken (3499899) | about 2 months ago | (#47701809)

And to billy I leave my steam account which has a few good games and a couple hundred games I've never played...

This is good! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47701917)

I can now leave my steam account to my son :)

Interesting... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47702079)

This has interesting implications for the entire industry. Mainly because they'll now need to restructure their systems to deal with moving an asset from one account to another as well as deal with when one user ends up with 2 of the same media. It may seem simple from the outside but if they've never prepared for these problems it could be a major headache for them now.

Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47702301)

Not that hard. So lets say my brother has an accident, and leave me his Pink Floyd albums on iTunes.
If I don't have an account already, I simply start using the inherited account. Easy for them. Maybe I want the name changed.
If I already have an account, they can simply give me the albums he had. It is digital stuff, so there is no difference between a "new" instance of an album and and "old". So they won't need a special transfer mechanism - just give me a new copy of whatever is in the old account before deleting it. No new procedure, merely a "sale without the money". If I already had those albums in my own account it is even easier - no change! There is no such thing as "two instances" of the same album on iTunes.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47703281)

I think OP's point is that while stuff like this indeed seems trivial and can be easily explained in a back-of-the-envelope kind of way like you just did, actually implementing this into a system that has been running for a long time now can be one hell of a headache. You need to ensure consistent behaviour across all kind of exception situations, like what happens if you have a single and your brother has the full album, what happens to the ratings your brother submitted, what happens to in-app purchases, what happens to a product which he bought-and-returned (some stores allow cancellation within 24h and keep track of that stuff), ... You get all kinds of interactions and it's just a major headache to actually build. The fact that it all seems so trivial from a customer point of view only makes it worse because expectations are sky high and nobody understands the roadbumps you keep hitting implementing stuff like this.

Re:Interesting... (1)

ZombieBraintrust (1685608) | about 2 months ago | (#47703549)

and if you have 3 brothers and you want to split the albums between the 3 of you? And a judge and lawyers get involved over the Pink Floyd album?....

Re:Interesting... (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 2 months ago | (#47709481)

Not that hard. So lets say my brother has an accident, and leave me his Pink Floyd albums on iTunes.
If I don't have an account already, I simply start using the inherited account. Easy for them. Maybe I want the name changed.
If I already have an account, they can simply give me the albums he had. It is digital stuff, so there is no difference between a "new" instance of an album and and "old". So they won't need a special transfer mechanism - just give me a new copy of whatever is in the old account before deleting it. No new procedure, merely a "sale without the money". If I already had those albums in my own account it is even easier - no change! There is no such thing as "two instances" of the same album on iTunes.

You clearly don't work in IT. Software doesn't work that way. If the datatable is shaped like this:
Customers
--------------------
name, cust_id, credits

Items
--------------------
Cust_id, song

Then your system would work. But it probably is not organized like that. That's very inefficient. What if the items table is like this:
Items
--------------------
Pinfloyd - the wall Y/N?
Pinfloyd - the Division bell Y/N?
Pinfloyd - Live Y/N?

Each of those Yes/No's only takes up 1 bit of space. It's either 1 or 0 on the datatable.
Now what if you and your brother both own "The wall" ?
How do they reflect that you now own 2?
What if you're 10? And the song is for adults only?
What if you were previously banned from iTunes?!?!

There are 1000 ways to store this data and only a few lend themselves to easily transferring songs from one person to another.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47704151)

Especially since so many companies are Delaware corporations. Many companies will be forced to comply because of that or they can move their business elsewhere.

Well I Think That's Swell! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 months ago | (#47702495)

The relatives of the deceased have a wonderful opportunity to learn new things about their dearly departed relative. Things they never would have suspected, when that person was alive! What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Well I Think That's Swell! (1)

Jiro (131519) | about 2 months ago | (#47703083)

If the deceased had things on paper, or on their computer at home, they would certainly be able to learn things about the deceased. How is this different?

Do you want to prevent people from inheriting paper documents from the deceased so relatives can't find out about their gay love letters or whatever?

Re:Well I Think That's Swell! (1)

Greyfox (87712) | about 2 months ago | (#47709537)

Ok, you have a valid point, true. But your gay love letters don't have the immediacy of, say, a video of the recently departed wearing a diaper and being spanked with a riding crop by a woman wearing a leather corset and a Richard Nixon mask.

Steamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47702603)

Steam is going to hate this. IIRC, Steam does not want accounts to be transferable after death.

Re:Steamed (1)

vakuona (788200) | about 2 months ago | (#47702971)

They won't be. It would be ridiculously easy to make it economically unattractive for someone to take over an account, for example, by including a discretionary discount in the account that is removed upon death.

Alternatively, they could just get their customers to agree to new T&Cs specifically stating that the contract ends on their death.

Google already has a feature where they ask people to specify what happens to their accounts on their death. I can't see law trumping the express wish of the deceased.

So if corporations are people now...? (1)

Voxol (32200) | about 2 months ago | (#47702605)

So if corporations are people, does this give creditors a legal right to digital assets of companies incorporated in Delaware after bankruptcy?

No exemptions for zero-knowledge services? (1)

gurnec (1011007) | about 2 months ago | (#47702611)

A "zero-knowledge" service provider (allegedly) has no access to most of the digital assets stored by their service (e.g. LastPass, SpiderOak, etc.). They store encrypted blobs of data on your behalf, and send you these encrypted blobs at your request. Your PC (and not their servers) then decrypts this data using your password (of which the service provider has no knowledge).

I scanned through the bill, and it doesn't seem to acknowledge that such services exist. It doesn't even acknowledge that passwords themselves may not be retrievable, and instead groups passwords into the same category as other "digital assets."

Now IANAL, and it's entirely possible that some other bit of language in the bill or in a service provider's ToS could help to alleviate this, but if I ran such a service, I'd be a bit concerned....

Re:No exemptions for zero-knowledge services? (1)

Jiro (131519) | about 2 months ago | (#47703325)

It says that the heir has the same rights as an authorized user. An authorized user who lost the password in this situation would not be able to get it by asking the company, so the heirs would not be able to ask the company either. On the other hand, if the heirs do get the password (maybe the deceased left it in a safety deposit box), it would stop the company terminating the account for TOS violation.

Delete My Browser History Act of 2014 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47703515)

This is the law that really needs to be passed.

This is frightening (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47703561)

I want all of my digital stuff to be destroyed when I die. I really don't want my family combing through all my personal shit when I'm dead.

Re:This is frightening (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 2 months ago | (#47703723)

I want all of my digital stuff to be destroyed when I die. I really don't want my family combing through all my personal shit when I'm dead.

Unless you take strong measures on your own, there's zero chance that any of your "digital stuff" will be destroyed when you die.

Your choices, if any really exist, are having your family comb through it, setting up a dead-man switch, or having a corporation use it for their own profit. Because once they're sure you're dead, the zaibatsus would sell your toes to foot fetishists if they could get away with it. Their sole purpose for existence is to maximize profit within the law. And some of them interpret that last bit to mean "anything I can get away with is effectively legal".

Simple fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47704039)

Since one is merely licensing the content, just license under the family (use Surname as the First name, and Family as the Last name). Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't...

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47705783)

If I want my family to have access to anything online, I will make sure they end up with the password.

As of state authority, online information is not under the control of a state unless the state owns the system, and the state governments are well within their authority to ignore it.

If I run a BBS or a web site in say Ohio, and somebody In Delaware has an account on my system, I'm not giving out the password to somebody just because Delaware says so. I will require a court issued warrant.

Sorry folks, but you will be SOL with me.

The Four Final Things (1)

v. Konigsmann (808666) | about 2 months ago | (#47706907)

This would be the last thing on my mind.

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