As a practical matter, a laptop and any software purchased for it gets put as a single line item on an estate appraisal for personal effects. Our appraiser certainly didn't want to boot up the laptop and examine its contents for valuable files. The only times I've turned on that laptop in the past year have been to look for clues about financial documents, look for pictures to use at her funeral, and to make sure I had a backup of her phd thesis.
Personally, I'm thankful that digital assets are non-transferrable because in my case, no one would have wanted them, and it allows me to feel no guilt about not putting them on an estate tax return.
Also, digital media are not the only non-transferrable assets that can potentially belong to an estate. Season tickets to sporting events and vehicle registrations come to mind, but I'm sure there are others.
I guess the question comes down to: if Apple allowed you to buy transferable licenses to music in the iTunes store at $1.50/song and non-transferable licenses at $1.00/song, which would you buy? I suspect the overwhelming majority of Americans would choose the $1.00 non-transferable license. Also, I suspect estate planning would almost never enter into that decision making process.
Thankfully, at least with iTunes music, this is not an issue of DRM. If there had been any music on my mom's laptop that I wanted, it would have been easy to transfer it.
Maybe smart people would buy the transferable for $1.50 then later sell it "used" for 75 cents, which is a win for both the seller and buyer.
With iTunes music sure. What about TV shows and movies? Books?
Right now, if you can't even freely share stuff between the living in your own household, you don't really "own" it, and you can forget about a way to pass it on to your heirs.
You don't own stuff you merely rent, and you can forget about passing it on.
I disagree. There is no difference, with respect to copyright, between a vinyl record of the Beatles and the iTunes equivalent. It's not copyright (which is an agreement between you and Apple Records) that is keeping you from bequeathing the iTunes copy to your heirs, it's the licensing terms (which is an agreement between you and Apple Computer).
Don't confuse the two!
Also, copyright is not an agreement between me and Apple Records. I've never agreed to anything, yet I'm still bound by it. The agreement is between society and/or the state and Apple Records.
Edit: better wording
This is the crux of the issue. I don't know if the general public doesn't understand this (because this "indefinite lease" is a relatively new business model), or if they think it is so laughable that when they paid $13 for a "book" on their Kindle, they only really bought a license to lease the book under Amazon's terms, they figured the law will work itself out somehow & "common sense" will prevail...
I'm not holding my breath...
Many purchases are disposable, and it seems to me that this is the realm where digital media is aimed right now. If you think about it, this is always the way we've bought some media, like newspapers and magazines.
How many times have you heard the announcer on a tv ad say "Own it on Blu-Ray or DVD now"? So much for truth in advertising.
Sadly, that seems to be the actual situation. It is therefore reasonable to demand that the word "buy" not be used to refer to those transactions ...
I really would like to see that tested in court.
This is clearly a problem that needs to be worked on, and people are working on it. But the answer is not the elimination of copyright.
Think about an analogous situation. If you would have told people 40 years ago that a variant of Unix would be made, completely open-source and free, and with large companies working on it too, not just some hobbyists, would they have believed something like that is possible. And yet, Linux still exists. I know copyright is very relevant for Linux (GPL etc...) but I want to show that it is possible for completely other systems to develop than the traditional, where you pay for an (unexpirable) license on the copyrighted work which is kept completely proprietary with some fair use additions.
In any case, fixing copyright doesn't seem that hard. In a world with copyright, which is perfectly fine by the way, the term could be much much shorter. >70 years is a disaster. 7 years seems fair and I think it would vastly enrich our culture, for a very small price to the creators of original work. Obviously it's more complicated than that, but that seems like a good start.
> Don't be so naive, a world without copyright could perfectly work.
Nobody forces authors to rely on copyright and authors are not all stupid sheep. So why doesn't the market lead to copyright-free books if they are viable?
And even if it works for some books, who says it can work for most (or all) books? Just like FOSS is a good model for Linux and lots of science/enterprise/commodity software, but still hasn't caught on in many other areas. What is holding video games without copyright back from overtaking traditional AAA titles?
A copyright limited to 7 years would be interesting.
Huh? Of course people will take copyright if it's offered, because they get it for nothing. Just like most farmers will take subsidies offered to them, whether or not they actually need them. Just because someone retains (and makes money off) the copyright to a novel they wrote doesn't mean they wouldn't have written it in the absence of copyright.
>Just like FOSS is a good model for Linux and lots of science/enterprise/commodity software, but still hasn't caught on in many other areas. What is holding video games without copyright back from overtaking traditional AAA titles?
I think it's a very unusual set of circumstances, and some dedicated idealists, that have lead to the success of OSS. But again, even if there were no OSS programs, that wouldn't mean that a world without copyright would have no programs. People tend to take rewards they are offered.
I don't doubt for a second that some music would be recorded and some software be written without copyright. But for it to be "perfect" or anything close to that, it'd have to be of the same amount or at least quality. How is it naive to doubt that this would be the case?
If we take the word naive to mean "lacking experience, information or clear judgement", I would say a person is naive is he believes a world without copyright would lead to no creative works appearing at all. You say some works would still be created but the original post I replied to implied nothing would be created at all.
I think it's important to realise, there is no way to know whether a world without copyright would work other than just doing it. But I've heard enough arguments in favour and I'm reasonably sure it would.
You're right. Sadly, the hard part is making politicians fear enough for their jobs so that they don't bend to the desires of special interests.
Because the problem is so specific though, I would think it could be addressed by a few precedent-setting court cases, or perhaps legislation.
What about passion? Sense of accomplishment?
Perhaps the author could make money on book signing, interviews, or even donations. Writing a good story could open doors to writing a movie scenario...
To be honest I don't really care how the authors can get some revenues, nor the programmers.
Data must be free, and this is far more important than how someone can make money on it.
You could swap `book' and `author' with `code' and `programmer' and you get the open source model.
Writing a good story could open doors to writing a movie scenario...
Data must be free, and this is far more important than how someone can make money on it.
The comparisons to open source software never do much to convince me. Many people think that it is a good model and make money through it sure, but I believe commercial software makes more money and that money is easier made (for example money from a sale instead of money from support seems much easier to do and scale).
The digital music space has been improving (iTunes has been DRM free for a while now) and it's hopefully going to get better - probably as more of the old media people retire and the companies enter the control of people who have grown up with digital content. The only way things will move forward is if both sides compromise but the mentality some people have of 'I want it now, I want it in the format I want, and I want it free' doesn't do much to convince music/movie/book companies. It makes them want to lock things down tighter, not open them up.
Making money out of it is irrelevant.
Whether or not you can copy a file is a moral question, and this has a higher priority than how to make a business model out of it.
You can't argue about if something is good by checking if you can easily build a business around it.
I will take an extreme example here (just so we get out of the copyright environment):
What if I want to make money by kidnapping children? I believe I could make a descent living out of it (especially if I have some kind of law on my side). However this 'business' aspect is never considered, because it doesn't pass the morality check, and thus is irrelevant.
I know it's an extreme example, but this shows there's a hierarchy when we need to determine if something is acceptable. Making money ISN'T among the firsts.
I'm not saying you can't make money without copyrights, but it simply can't be an argument.
Here's the bit distributors haven't figured out yet, I want it now and I'm willing to pay. Hell, I've literally just infringed copyright today because my only legal alternative is to wait 12 months for local release (and I do it every week). There's a missed opportunity.
Remember, there will be no data if people can't make some money off of it.
But anyway copyright is just one way of monetizing one's creation. People will pay to see their favorite bands, or to have the original of a painting or sculpture even if copies can be freely made. There are free ad-supported newspapers. Many artists get public funding. Many projects are supported by donations, and so are some individual programmers.
I'm all for deprecating copyright-dependent business models and encouraging the development of alternatives. Kickstarter has some good examples of what can be done through donations, and I can see similar models replacing much of the copyright-based economy.
 See http://ardour.org/node for an example.
Eliminating copyright wouldn't destroy the software creators jobs, only the industry of consumer retail software products would need to change (i.e, a rapid move to SaaS), and that is just a minor (although very visible) part of the industry. Almost all other industry would be ok and workers can make their money.
As someone who has released open source code I don't think this analogy translates very well.
I write code because I need it, I can then release it so hopefully others will use it and make it better.
I can see how maybe a biographer would write a book because they wanted it to exist, but my belief is that the vast majority of authors don't write for this reason.
> Data must be free
I don't think you can just state this as a fact anymore than I can state, no person should be able to own more than $10,000,000.00.
Neither of which put food on the table.
Are people only realizing now that the game has changed? This was obvious from day one: stores selling digital goods have it in their best interest to keep you buying the same thing over and over again, whether you buy the Playstation game you already own on PSN, or you have your buddy "buy" an album on iTunes because you can't let him borrow the CD.
Theoretically, this loss of convenience/utility should lower the price for the consumer. It is really up to the market to decide if they want to save a few bucks, or retain the right of first sale (or gift, in this case).
So if you're like my and consider CDs to be unreasonable, what other options do we have? If I have kids someday, I would certainly want to be able to pass down my music collection.
And, for the last point: What happens to our licenses if/when Amazon or Apple cease to exist?
(Side note: I'm comparing 10k CDs to 10k Books, because 10k Songs is vastly smaller than 10k Books.)
Movies and Kindle books are a real issue though, and if you think CDs are heavy.... :-)
Possession is illegal only for drugs and kiddie porn - for everything else, only distribution really counts.
As successful as iTunes and Apple currently are, media distribution is still undergoing massive disruption. It's likely that something completely new and utterly amazing compared to any current online media store will win out in the end. Distribution services that provide a sub-par experience on the majority of hardware out there are doomed to fail even sooner. i.e. iTunes does not provide a good user experience under anything but OSX, and even there it's love/hate. Amazon and Google Play are serious contenders despite the artificial iOS obstacles Apple is heaping in their paths.
One might argue that iTunes will live on even if other stores win out, but legacy support only goes so far. Once iTunes stops making Apple money they'll wait a respectful period of time and then quietly shut everything down.
I know many will disagree with me on iTunes' fate, but all I have to do is to live long enough and I'm virtually guaranteed to have the last laugh!
iTunes: m4a, has your name and email address encoded
Amazon: mp3, has Amazon's unique song id in the ID3 comments
And in terms of the cloud:
iTunes: $25/yr for iTunes Match, which is completely optional
Amazon: Free storage for songs you purchase from Amazon + 5gb extra
The important issue is to keep your music backed up, since both Amazon and iTunes offer limited options if your harddrive fails.
Anyway, to address your point, Dropbox or a manual file transfer would be your best bet for multi-device support.
How common is this though? I've half-heartedly done a bit of research from time to time about Kindle DRM, but always give up after (perhaps incorrectly) confirming that it is still mostly the default, and after finding pages and pages of results of blog posts bemoaning or defending some DRM related news from last year, or two years ago, or four years ago. It's why I, like many others in this thread, still buy print even though I'd consider a Kindle for convenience.
So if Kindle books without DRM are common, or even the majority, I'd genuinely like to know.
> Just as with iTunes, people should stop repeating what was once true, and focus more on what is true.
I'm probably guilty of repeating anti-DRM complaints regarding the Kindle, but you have to admit that with iTunes and Amazon music, it's clear cut and there's no question when it comes to DRM.
The magic phrase "At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied." is usually added to the product description.
Take ebooks as a much simpler example. The distribution costs of a single ebook are essentially zero. Even if you, as a publisher, pay Apple/Amazon 30% you're better off than retail and retail typically has a higher markup, means printing books, storing them in warehouses, shipping them across the country/world, etc.
On top of this ebooks are basically nontransferable whereas paper books can of course been sold secondhand. The latter is such a "problem" that the textbook industry, as just one example, will keep changing editions each year or two just to kill the secondhand market.
It should come as no surprise that ebooks are nontransferable either.
Given all these restrictions and lower costs of production it seems logical that ebooks should be cheaper than their dead tree equivalents. But oh no, they're typically the same price or even more expensive. This is nothing but greed. What's more, publishers are shooting themselves in the foot (long term) here because they should be encouraging a system whereby you can buy a given textbook, it can't be sold secondhand and the original owner keeps getting updates (people don't typically rebuy later editions of the same textbook I would guess).
Music isn't really that different. CDs, which are transferable, have the same costs of printing, storage, distribution and retail markup, even against the 30% (is this confirmed for music?) margin Apple/Amazon take yet I don't think you'll be saving any money by buying whole MP3 albums vs CDs (more often than not).
If electronic media were cheaper like it should be I think consumers would have an easier time accepting the nontransferability aspect. People, on the whole, have an innate sense of fairness (IMHO).
As far as iTunes accounts and the like go, on a practical level you can simply take over the account. Apple has a facility to change the Apple ID. I can't see any barriers to this.
EDIT: From :
Traditional publishing has a traditional formula for calculating the retail list price, the price printed on the book. That list price is typically about eight times the cost of manufacturing. In clothing retail terms, that translates into a markup of about 88% between publisher and reader.
There are several reasons for the big percentage. Not only does the actual bookseller require a markup, but often there are two “middlemen” between the publisher and the bookstore: a distributor and a wholesaler who must each get a piece of the action. And of course the publisher wants to make a profit and better not sell merely for the cost of manufacturing.
which basically confirms the 12% figure. But I was referring to the retail markup and costs of distribution (distributor/wholesaler).
Selling to B and N with a 55% discount from lightning source should make the books appear with a 40% discount off the list price. Amazon generally matches those discounts.
The list price will be $44. 44 * 0.6 = 26.4
Using the Createspace royalty calculator, $44 with a 300 page book produces a royalty of ~$22.
Amazon discount don't reduce Createspace royalties. I may be overlooking something, or some part of the plan might fail of course.
On the other hand, apparently increases in the cost of books have roughly matched the rate of inflation, so any other explanation may be bogus.
I don't understand why this is greed. If I grow an apple, is it greedy for me to sell it in a way that maximises my revenue? And if I write a book or record a song, is it greedy for me to licence it in a way that maximises my revenue?
This is my own personal belief, but my main objection to ebook pricing is the apparent price collusion that is going on in the publishing market (here's a link to a news story about one DOJ case: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75028.html). This isn't the first time that a format change prompted increased prices: when the CD was introduced, music labels charged much higher prices for CDs than prior formats -- notably, all of the labels also seemed to converge on a single, higher price. Arguably, the higher price was justifed due to better audio fidelity; maybe the same could be said for ebooks' features vs dead tree books. For at least a decade $20 CDs were the norm despite much lower music prices in the cassette era and much lower prices now. Check out Knopper's 'Appetite for Self-Destruction' or Kernfeld's 'Pop Song Piracy' if you're interested in the music industry specifically.
To cut it short: in a government-granted monopolized market, it seems a bit fishy when the entire market lurches in the (same) higher priced direction simultaneously.
CDs frequently cost $17 in the early 1980s; LPs cost $9. It's a few pages before chapter 2, which unfortunately isn't available for free.
You are right about the cost of CD players, which were incredibly expensive compared to older formats.
Also, please don't edit your post to reply. Use reply to reply.
It wouldn't surprise me if meta-content like user reviews and histories become more interesting as targets for preservation. Who knows, maybe my grandkids in 2064 will be interested to know what I read and watched in 2012 and what I thought of it?
Yeah, in theory, but do not forget who you are dealing with. Majors and related industries depend on unit-by-unit sales model currently, and they will trying to avoid that conversion as much as they can. While I agree with you it makes sense.
They may or may not have to be transferable in the EU.
I wonder if the case of the OP - someone leaving behind a very large digital library and a heir that demands to use it - could lead to more court rulings here.
eBook DRM is my biggest digital problem right now. It seems I will only have O'Reilly books to pass on :(
I think people accepting nontransferability would be a bad thing. A very bad. Revocability is the next step after nontransferability and that is a truly ugly thing.
It does raise the broader issue of households, though. When I have a family, shouldn't I be able to give them access to ebooks I've read and songs I've enjoyed? That's trivially easy with the physical versions (if sometimes annoying that someone else is reading a book you want to read) but how will companies handle the digital equivalent of sharing within a family?
But I can understand what they are afraid of, in a digital world it would be trivial to set up a lending service letting users automatically borrow books from each other. But really, I should be able to lend out to my family, friends and colleagues for as long and often I want (that I can't read it myself while it is borrowed and that I can only lend it out to one person at a time are very reasonable limitations that mimics physical books).
> “I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family
> would be OK with losing a collection of 10,000 books and
> songs,” says Evan Carroll, co-author of “Your Digital
And I find it hard to imagine a situation where a family will be fighting Apple to transfer Britney Spears' last CD from grandpa's account to his favorite granddaughter's account. Or that cool Angry Birds iPhone app he paid 99 cents for back 20 years ago.
I realise young folk think they are immortal, but people don't just die from old age. And the problem is, digital media companies like Apple and Amazon don't implement a concept of a "household" account.
I am sure I don't live in the only household where the kids watch stuff from an iTunes library populated from the account of one parent. Granted if a parent died the kids' first thought would not be "Drat, no Backyardigans" but it is definitely an issue beyond bequeathing media that nobody else is interested in.
An iTunes library may very well be an asset worth hundreds of dollars to survivors. Even if you know each others' passwords, technically it is still illegal to keep using the dead person's account.
In fact, if the DRM'ed stuff you've bought is a one-time purchase (as opposed to a subscription of some kind), then it's in the provider's economic best interest to drop support as soon as possible. There's not going to be any more money coming in from the user once he's made his purchase, but there's going to be money going out to pay the DRM servers' costs because they consume physical space, power, bandwidth and technical expertise on an ongoing basis (as well as hardware that wears out and needs to be replaced).
I personally support as little DRM-crippled content as possible. I only purchase e-books in open formats, use GamersGate instead of Steam (avoiding DRM-crippled products), and buy a fair number of physical books and DVD's. I've actually walked away from imminent purchases, both online and in stores, when I discovered that the product I was about to purchase had aggressive DRM.
Anything else I still buy physical: books I care about, music, etc. As an example, if I was after a design-patterns book, I'd buy a physical copy. Algorithms book? Physical. PHP programming book: digital. The latest "how to launch your startup book"?: digital. I own CD's for all of my music.
As an electrical engineer I have had the experience of collecting hundreds of physical data books only to throw them all away years later. That world has changed completely with the availability of freely downloadable PDF data sheets and data books. The same is the case with most mechanical components catalogs and product information books. Open and free websites and/or PDF files have replaced the world of hard-copy manuals, books and catalogs.
And so the question might very well be: What are other book genres going to look like in ten, twenty, thirty or fifty years? It could very well be that book authors discover that they can earn a lot more money if their book is published digitally and made available openly while being supported by advertising or donations. While most would reject the idea of a 300 page PHP book with an add on every header or every page, the idea that this book would be free to the reader might change their viewpoint.
Catalog or data-book providers have an incentive for providing these book or documents for free: They are trying to sell you what's inside them. That transition was a no-brainer. Novels, fiction, business, political, hobby and other books might not have such strong tie-ins with revenue generating opportunities. This means that they have to make some money per unit sold (or unit read). Maybe all books will become websites with advertising and many opportunities to monetize them. And, at the same time, the reader will have the option to pay a nominal amount to turn off all advertising.
The idea of transferring ownership of digital assets to survivors might eventually translate into simply providing a list of the books, songs, etc. that the survivors can freely explore as a sample of what the deceased like to read or listen to. In the end, I think only a limited set of physical items hold sentimental value. As far as real monetary value, well, I think that books and records hardly count as investments save for very, very rare stuff.
In the past, the labls/publishers/whoever wanted to create content, be able to sell it, and have a monopoly on it. The way to do this was to sell physical instances of the creation, like books, DVDs, and CDs. This worked wonderfully, because it's simple for people to understand giving money over to receive a physical good, which you own, and which you can e.g. later sell, or transfer to your kids.
In short, the old way was: "buying" == "getting a physical copy of the media".
The problem is, since digital media arose, there has been a slow shift in the meaning of buying content. The producers are acting like "buying" no longer means "getting a physical copy of the media". They're acting like it means "having access to consume the media". E.g., buying a song from Queen means I get to listen to the song. It has nothing to do with having the physical file.
In other words, the new model is: "buying" == "getting the (legal) ability to consume the media".
This is true in many ways, both good and bad for the consumer.
The good is that, e.g., when I buy an audiobook on Audible, the physical file is irrelevant. I can delete it, and download it again. It's my ability to get the book that they're selling. I can have many physical copies of the book, on my computer/iPhone/laptop/whatever, and they're fine with it. The bad is that a lot of the rules for physical media are no longer relevant - I can't sell it, I can't lend it, I can't let people inherit.
Actually, this doesn't bother me much. Because I don't think of owning an Audiobook in the same way I think of owning a physical book. My thoughts are "I pay $10 to hear this book, once". Of course, this says a lot about me, because I don't have this same thought about ebooks - I do equate them to physical books.
My prediction is that the world will be going in a direction in which physical ownership of digital media is irrelevant. This has to happen, because of the way digital media works. People will be buying the "ability" to listen to songs, not buying actual songs. Programs like Amazon's "lend books" will be seem very antiquated and irrelevant. Arguably, the way these will work is by buying subscriptions to services, i.e. $10 for all the music you can listen to ala Spotify. I think this is the only way the world can go which will make sense to consumers, although I fear for the publishers.
(I know Amazon somehow let's you lend books for limited time but I'm talking about industry in general)
Subscription services will eventually win over large locally owned media. It's so nice to have access to any song I want for $10 /month, without having to worry if my iPhone has enough storage to hold it all.
Who inherits my iTunes library (or kindle library etc etc)? My estate does.
Oh no - I have so much music that a physical storage model doesn't scale - in fact, I have so. much. music. that I can't afford to own it in physical media! I can only afford to license it for my lifetime! Whatever shall I do?
This isn't to say that transferable digital assets are unimportant, but just to point out that part of the reason people in previous generations did not suffer our terrible woes is that only very few of them tried to accumulate obscenely large collections. (I have 27 GB of music accumulated - that's 16 days of nonstop music. When I cast my eye over history, I am in the obscenely wealthy 0.001% (pick a number) who could command over two weeks of nonstop music on a whim. It's nothing less than obscene.)
If you keep a moderate library, there's nothing wrong with physical media.
Digital content enables a certain class of packrat, to be sure. But they're tangentially relevant, at best.
You're right, digital media bring all kinds of convenience and portability that make them valuable forms of media that should be transferable. (More important is that they should be transferable across formats/devices in time - I don't think my kids will be able to play my mp3s when I die :-)
But digital media uniquely encourage large library size - they are uniquely prone to accumulation.
How many times have you seen the following argument made, "If you made it easy to buy a digital copy legitimately, I wouldn't pirate?" Well, with successful stores (such as iTunes) the purchasing process has been made extremely easy.
What happens when you have extreme ease of purchase coupled with negligible storage cost? That's a recipe for inadvertent hoarding if I ever saw one!
Digital media enable us to lose all sense of scale of how much we have accumulated(because we have no physical objects to haul about. I don't think it's just a certain class of packrat that suffers, I think we all suffer from this loss of perspective.
It makes the question of transferability more acute to us, because we're investing more (money, time, attention) in gathering and consuming media than we would otherwise. So I stand by my original post - this is a first world problem :-)
It seems to me unlikely that digital content will remain the domain of relatively cheap music, books and videos.
So I should listen to the same disc over and over?
That's one battle won, now we need to get rid of DRM for video and ebooks...
1. Are the rights under the EULA / ToS transferable due to terms explicitly in the EULA governing transferability?
2. If there are no explicit terms, what is the "default setting" for transferability?
3. Are the digital items being sold considered goods, services, or some combination? (I'd imagine it's much easier to terminate a contract for ongoing services than to negate heirs' rights to goods the deceased has purchased.)
4. Is there a catch-all "escape clause" in the EULA which says "We're allowed to terminate your right to access these songs or movies at any time for any reason, or no reason"?
5. What about the first sale doctrine? Doesn't it say that you have some right to transfer items regardless of what the EULA / ToS says?
From a practical standpoint, you can probably transfer the account by just giving the password to the receiving heir. Making new purchases on the old account may no longer be possible if they check to make sure the name on your credit card matches the name the account is registered to, but I'd imagine many providers don't do this check and only care about what your CC info says if they start getting chargebacks.
If you don't know the password and don't have access to the deceased's email to use the usual password reset mechanism, you may be facing an uphill battle.
It would also be a micromanagement nightmare to have several accounts on the same service with different content. It might also trigger provider's alarms if you access several different accounts from the same IP address (although if the number is reasonably small -- less than ten, let us say -- hopefully they'll assume it's legit, i.e. multiple accounts belonging to different people living in the same house with a single NAT'ed Internet connection.)
The simple fact of the matter is that most Web businesses' domain modeling assumes that customers live forever. What happens when they don't is basically anarchy. We're still at the point where most of the people who die never had a large online presence, but in 30-50 years that will no longer be true.
An ideal situation for content providers would be for all content to be destroyed when someone dies, because then the next generation would have to buy it if they wanted it instead of inheriting it. The problem is that this leads to cognitive dissonance, because heritability of possessions is a central feature of many cultures, including ours.
An ideal situation for consumers is complete transferability. The first problem is that this encourages piracy -- if there was a free and legal resale market where any song could be sold for (let us say) $0.50, while songs can be bought on iTunes for $1.00, iTunes would make exactly $1.00 on each song it released, because exactly one person would buy it, then resell it (keeping a local copy), and its buyer would resell it, etc. The second problem is that it's difficult for a company halfway around the country to differentiate between the legitimate heir of someone who's actually died and an account thief.