An Interesting Legal Idea

If it hasn’t already happened, soon you will see that the logic you are learning and practicing through your LSAT prep will seep into your everyday world. Though I know you’d love to shut the doors of your LSAT world tightly to ensure it won’t stain any part of your everyday life, there’s no stopping it. Soon the LSAT will start creeping into your subconscious and show up even in your dreams! On the same line, I felt this same way when I was in law school. Anytime I was away from class and thought I was cozily and safely tucked away from principles, rules and legal analysis, it crept back into my thoughts without a second's delay...well, you get the idea.

Something that kept creeping back to me and continues to is the idea of digital property. Property was always a class that piqued my interest. I am an avid collector of audiobooks. I guess it started because of law school. I had a solid 25-minute commute every morning and 40-minute commute back. I can’t listen to music for more than 10 minutes without zoning out. I mean just how much of Carly Rae Jepson can one girl handle, you know? So, I got an audiobook subscription. And once I left the world of law school I continued to listen to audiobooks on my drives, runs and even while cleaning and doing chores. So I have a respectable collection of audiobooks, and as my collection continues to grow, I’ve been thinking about the idea of digital property.

Each one of my audiobooks costs around $30-$50 (if you take away the fact that I’m paying a membership fee to get a discount). That means I have a good amount of money invested in this digital audio property of mine. It got me thinking: if I were to, God forbid, have an untimely death, who would get my audiobook library? More so, even if you don’t have audiobooks, most people have a pretty respectable music inventory, and many people have bought those songs legally from iTunes (okay, maybe not many, but a good handful!). Also, there are those ruffians and blasphemers who own eBooks on their kindles or nooks (I’m not a fan). What happens to those?

Oddly enough, while the thought crossed my mind, I was driving home listening to my audio subscription of the Wall Street Journal, and I came upon a very interesting article called Who Inherits Your iTunes Library? What you can own and how you can come by owning it has always fascinated me.

The article pointed out that digital law is vastly underdeveloped. Someone in this day and age who owns a couple thousand hardcover books or vinyl records could bequeath them to their family or friends, but passing on your digital libraries seems to be a much more difficult task. A main hindrance is that unlike print books and CDs, one does not actually own their digital property; they merely have a license to use it.

“Apple and grant ‘nontransferable rights to use content, so if you buy the complete works of the Beatles on iTunes, you cannot give the ‘White Album’ to your son and ‘Abbey Road’ to your daughter,” the article points out.  According to Amazon’s terms of use, you do not have ownership rights in the software or music content you have downloaded. Apple limits the use of digital files to Apple devices used by each individual account holder.

The law is an ever-changing, ever-progressing entity. As mankind grows and adapts, the law too must grow and adapt. In the case of digital property, the law needs to catch up. So far, there seems to be a vast digital black hole in the legal world that is continuing to loop attorneys ‘round and ‘round.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, what’s the point of all that LSAT prep anyway? To become a lawyer, right? So, you should be looking into the different fields and areas of law that interest you. It seems to me that the digital world is a burgeoning new area of law that needs to be taken advantage of by up-and-coming attorneys and future-attorneys like yourself. Think about it!

Happy Studying!

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