Today in my first year Property class I plan to discuss how possession of some “thing” is evidence of ownership but possession does not equal ownership in all cases. Possession creates a rebuttable presumption. And Apple’s fine print may just win over an individual’s claims to own music purchased via iTunes. Is that a license or a transfer of title to the music? That’s what Bruce Willis wants to know. Maybe you do too!
A lawfully acquired physical copy, of course, is treated differently. But electronic goods pose challenging questions in the 21st century to what constitutes “ownership” of a lawfully acquired electronic file. Willis’s fight against Apple to pass on ownership of his music collection to his children is case-in-point:
“Bruce Willis has vanquished terrorists, basement rapists and the defenses of Cybill Shepherd. But in his three decades in Hollywood he may not have faced as daunting an opponent as Apple. According to an unconfirmed report in a British publication, Willis wants to bequeath his extensive iTunes music collection to his daughters — something that’s not permitted under the current iTunes terms.”