Preserving your digital legacy: What happens to your MP3s when you die?

With digital download sales booming, Caroline Donnelly finds out how to go about passing on these assets post-death

E-books after death

Amazon's Kindle store terms of use seem to take a similarly dim view of people who might want to pass on their e-book collections, post-death. "Unless specifically indicated otherwise, you may not sell, rent, lease, distribute, broadcast, sublicense, or otherwise assign any rights to the Kindle Content or any portion of it to any third party," it states. The same goes for rival e-reader maker Kobo, who told IT Pro that once a customer dies, their account will remain open, but no-one can use it and ownership of it cannot be transferred to a third-party. It is also impossible to bequeath a Kobo account in a will.

These days, part of how a person is remembered is defined by their residual online presence and once they're gone, there's not much loved ones can do about it.

"However, if the owner of the Kobo account gives the email address and password...to someone before dying, the person who has the Kobo credentials can log into the Kobo account  and use it," a statement from Kobo to IT Pro helpfully states. In fact there is nothing to stop users of any of these services passing on their login details, adds Etherington. "I suspect what people will practically come to do is leave behind a little book of their passwords, and provided someone has [that] they can get in. Apple or whoever won't know who is logging in," he adds. The cyber security risks associated with taking this kind of approach are obvious, but it might be the simplest, if not the most secure, way of passing on access to your digital assets after death. Particularly if people have accounts with a large number of digital media providers, such as Apple, Amazon, Kobo, and use streaming service such as Netflix and Spotify too.

Planning ahead

The work involved to shut down someone's account, if ownership transfer is not allowed, can be arduous as each company tends to have its own way of handling things. This is why, Emma Myers, head of wills, probate and lifetime planning at Sagalegal.co.uk, says people need to start planning what will happen to their digital estate after death sooner rather than later. "Without a properly planned digital legacy, your loved ones can face a stressful struggle to gain access to online accounts and shut them down," Myers tells IT Pro.

Tweeting after death

Twitter users unwilling to let the small matter of death stop them accruing followers should sign up to automatic tweet generation service Liveson.

Once people sign up, Liveson will analyse their Twitter feeds and then generate Tweets based on what's been written before once they've died.

The company's tagline is "when your heart stops beating, you'll keep tweeting" and around 417 people have signed up to use it since its launch.

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