From The Digital Reader:
Do you know that clause in the TOS for the Kindle Store and many other digital content stores which says that the content is licensed to you and is nontransferable?
The state of Delaware just negated that clause (in part). Last week Governor Jack Markell signed House Bill (HB) 345, “Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act”, giving heirs and the executors to estates the same rights over digital content which they would have over physical property.
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Delaware is the first state to follow the latest suggestion from the Uniform Law Commission, a non-profit group that crafts model legislation and lobbies to enact it across all jurisdictions in the United States. Last month the ULC adopted a new legal standard, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA), which laid out what rights heirs should have over digital content belonging to the deceased.
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The new law in Delaware only affects Delaware residents and will being probated there. It does not affect the tech companies registered in the state, according to one spokesperson. “If a California resident dies and his will is governed by California law, the representative of his estate would not have access to his Twitter account under HB 345,” Kelly Bachman, a spokesperson for the Delaware governor’s office, said by email.
Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to SFR for the tip.
PG did a quick scan of the Delaware law and is skeptical that it permits ebooks to be inherited.
Instead, it appears to be designed to permit an executor or designated agent access to electronic accounts for things like ID’s/passwords, email, financial services, social media, domain registration, online store accounts, health insurance, etc.
The powers of the executor or agent are specifically limited to the relevant EULA’s which, in the case of ebooks, place limits on ability to transfer ebooks.
As mentioned, these conclusions are based upon a fast skimming of the legislation and PG could be wrong about his conclusions.
As Kris Rusch has mentioned, authors should pay attention to what’s going to happen to their literary properties after they die and make appropriate arrangements to avoid lots of expense and hassle after their death.
PG is not an estate planning lawyer and the laws of inheritance are state-based in the United States so they will vary from state to state.
Trusts are commonly used planning tools. The author’s assets, including copyrights and publishing contracts, are transferred to a trust, which can be created either while the author is alive or upon the death of the author, and the trustee – someone the author designates – manages those assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries of the trust – the author’s surviving spouse, children, etc.
If the author creates a corporation or limited-liability company (LLC) to operate the author’s self-publishing business, transfer of the author’s shares in the corporation to the author’s heirs will transfer all assets in the corporation and the business will continue without interruption upon the author’s death.
There are tax implications for various estate planning tools and, while there is a federal estate tax, many states also have state inheritance taxes, so estate planning also includes tax planning which will vary from state to state.