Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Digital assets on death

digital, assets, digital assets

The virtually limitless ability to create digital content has seen an increasing amount of media attention focused on ownership of content, particularly in the event of death.

In most jurisdictions, government legislation does not separately deal with digital assets, and therefore, the same rules that apply to physical assets will generally apply.

Unfortunately, many of the rules in this area lack this sophistication required to deal with digital platforms that are normally either hosted outside Australia, or alternatively, perhaps outside any discrete jurisdiction on the basis that they are cloud based.

While most digital platforms do offer deactivation mechanisms or automatic closure due to inactivity (similar to the much publicised approach taken by Google), these features do not necessarily of themselves assist in relation to ownership of the data.

Ultimately therefore, digital assets should be treated in the same way as any other asset, and to the extent that they are of significant emotive or financial value, dealt with in the last will of the owner.

Alternatively, digital assets (including passwords) should at least be communicated via documents such as letter of wishes or memorandum of directions (click here for a template memorandum of directions on the View Legal site - via the 'learn' and then 'resources' tabs).

Some of the specific information that should be documented includes a listing of every digital platform utilised, account, user name and passwords for each platform, security question answers, and even directions as to post death activity and ultimate closure of the various accounts.

Until next week.

Image Credit: TheRealMichaelMoore via Flickr