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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Preserve a "Digital Inheritance"? 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.
First time accepted submitter ron-l-j writes "The last few months a digital inheritance idea has been floating around in my head, and I am sure the thought has crossed your mind as well. With Google talking about the inactive account program it made me wonder, how do I make sure my children get my iTunes, and amazon movies? I have plenty of mp4 movies on my server that will just set itself to admin with no password after I do not log in within a 6 month time frame. But what about the huge amount spent on digital content every year? What's the best way to make sure your "digital inheritance" gets passed down?"
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Way To Preserve a "Digital Inheritance"?

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  • You don't own (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:54AM (#43452667)

    Any of it.

  • by grewil (2108618) on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:54AM (#43452671)

    Few would care for their parents music collection.

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:56AM (#43452691) Journal

    What's the best way to make sure your "digital inheritance" gets passed down?

    Put it on physical media and give it to them. Or remove the DRM (if any) and put it on a disc and give it to them. Or (if you're okay with it) move it to a third party pay system like Google Drive where you can make it readable to them. Keep in mind that in doing so you will almost certainly be violating the usage agreement you clicked on with the distributors your got that music from -- in some cases you are violating it two or three different ways in that scenario.

    This story [slashdot.org] wasn't true but you'd essentially be facing the same obstacles.

    Based on principle that I don't want to get into, I refuse to purchase anything from Apple. So I don't have to deal with that problem. I do make purchase on Amazon, however, whenever a Big Bach box of 100 Bach songs goes on sale for $1. So what I do is I download them all in mp3 and put them out on a redundant SAN in my house. I do this with all books, music and movies -- if I buy the CD or DVD I rip them out to this. If I get a DRM'd ebook, I free it with calibre and put it out there. Pretty sure I'm violating a ton of shit [amazon.com] doing this but ... meh:

    2.2 Restrictions. You must comply with all applicable copyright and other laws in your use of the Music Content. Except as set forth in Section 2.1 above, you may not redistribute, transmit, assign, sell, broadcast, rent, share, lend, modify, adapt, edit, license or otherwise transfer or use the Music Content.

    Every five years or so I upgrade the drives to medium quality drives that are larger for more storage. So this machine running as an internal server to my home is unencrypted and I can access it with my PS3, Xbox or computer. I will simply hand over that machine and drives to my offspring in my final will and testament.

    You should honestly still be asking about MMORPG accounts, apps and games that you paid for ... I'm sad that I cannot give my children my old Lucas arts games. The media is archaic and my "license" with the company is meaningless more and more each day as Disney dismantles and guts LucasArts. I wrote a journal entry [slashdot.org] about this in 2006 and it was on the front page but that discussion seems to have been lost to the ages. I'm certainly not the first person to puzzle over this quandary and it will only snowball further and further.

  • by MasseKid (1294554) on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:56AM (#43452699)
    IANAL, and I haven't checked the license, but I suspect you legally don't own rights that can be passed on upon your death.
  • by DoomSprinkles (1933266) on Monday April 15, 2013 @11:57AM (#43452707)
    I bet Hollywood and the RIAA would like to assume you'll make the only sensible option and inform your beneficiaries to use your life insurance to repurchase all such content you think you own.
  • by Qzukk (229616) on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:08PM (#43452821) Journal

    The account would still have to be in your name and the company would have to believe you were still alive.

    Well, that's easy. Incorporate and have Anonymous Coward, Inc. buy all your music and movies and such for you. Pass on the corporation and its assets in your will.

    Undeath: Not just for soulless corporations and liches anymore!

  • by ShanghaiBill (739463) * on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:08PM (#43452825)

    Few would care for their parents music collection.

    A few years ago, I was helping my teenage daughter with her homework. My wife walked in, and told us that Michael Jackson had died. My daughter asked "Who's Michael Jackson?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:19PM (#43452937)

    You can spend your entire life researching Michael Jackson and the question will at most change from "Who's Michael Jackson?" to "Who the fuck is Michael Jackson?!"

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PhotoJim (813785) <jim@photoj[ ]ca ['im.' in gap]> on Monday April 15, 2013 @12:40PM (#43453133) Homepage

    It's down the list, but it's stuff that has value, so it's not that insane.

    On the same continuum would be photographs - photographs can have a great deal of historical value, both to a community and to a family. Having some sort of a plan to ensure that they get passed on to someone who will care about having them and value them is a good thing.

  • Think bigger. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ledow (319597) on Monday April 15, 2013 @01:09PM (#43453349) Homepage

    Think bigger.

    1) Your kids probably don't want it. How much of your grandfather's-era of music would you actually listen to? Not much. Sure, they'd like to keep a photo or two for "show-and-tell" but it won't mean much to them later, and 99.9% of what you want to give them, they won't be interested in. When people die, they have a lot of crap to go through, and most of it gets destroyed or sold - nobody keeps EVERYTHING. The first things to go are mass-market commercial items that can easily be replicated / recovered.

    2) Your kids won't know what to do with it. It's become hard to play web video from 10-15 years ago (when was the last time you installed Quicktime / Realplayer?). Doesn't matter what you do, they probably won't be able to play it (DRM, etc.) - you can scream open-source all you like, the fact is that by the time they grow up, unless they are as geeky as you, they won't be able to play it.

    3) Out of all the crap I could have "inherited", I kept only what was personal and important. There probably *WAS* value in the old 78's that I took to the charity shop, but to be honest, it wasn't sentimental value so who cares? There's no way I could listen to the music on them and tolerate the slow-droning that passed for music back then. And the stuff I did keep was daft, for a reason and - without exception - tangible. There's enough non-tangible stuff in my head from dead people without some "virtual" music that I could pick up in seconds if I really wanted it.

    4) When they get older, they'll care less. They will be working and could buy your favourite music on the format of the day for nostalgia, if they wanted it. Chances are they won't dig out the old CD player except to blow the dust off and show the kids how music "used to be" (like previous generations would demonstrate their phonographs etc.). Fast forward a generation and all your Netflix accounts (assuming that company is even AROUND by then) won't mean anything to your family. That favourite movie that they always snuggled up to watch as children? Chances are they don't remember as adults or - if they do - they'd prefer it on a convenient modern format which they would buy themselves anyway.

    5) The generation problem. I know things about my grandparents. I know next-to-nothing about my great-grandparents. I'd never seen them, they were dead before I was born. Hence, I don't really have more than a passing interest in them. I know zero about their parents and the further back you go, the less I know and the less I care. I probably *am* related to someone famous at some point - almost everybody is and even simple maths provides the answer - every famous person of ten generations ago probably has nearly a thousand people who can trace their ancestry directly to them today, and millions more whom can get there with third-cousins twice-removed or whatever.

    Sure, it'd be cool to have a piece of documentation etc. for filling in a family tree but - thinking about it - my dad probably does have that kind of stuff about his own granddad. But why would he show it to me / pass it to me? I have no connection with the person it came from and it would mean almost nothing.

    Now consider what it would mean to see a list of music that your grandfather liked, or your great-grandfather. Now consider how much it would be different to have that music in some online-only account that's tricky to get into (and almost certainly the details will be lost by then), impossible to play if you do, may not even exist any more, etc. It's not as much as you think.

    And by then most of that stuff will be so old-hat it won't even be put onto TV / radio as it would have been repeated a billion times and gone through the "gold" nostalgia channels and be next-to-worthless, like asking me to watch something that my great-grandad saw at a music hall. Interesting. Once. For a minute. That's about it.

    6) All this effort takes you away from your kids. They honestly won't give a shit beyond lip-service and keeping

  • by dgatwood (11270) on Monday April 15, 2013 @01:11PM (#43453379) Journal

    And that tends to always be true. The thing about music from a few decades back is that the only old music people still listen to after all that time is usually the good stuff. For a fair comparison, you need to compare Taylor Swift or One Direction with bubblegum pop.

  • Re:You don't own (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArsonSmith (13997) on Monday April 15, 2013 @01:15PM (#43453413) Journal

    Exactly, if you want to insure your children get your digital collection, fight for more sane copyright term lengths.

  • Re:Make a list (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy (595695) on Monday April 15, 2013 @01:43PM (#43453673) Homepage
    You know what used to happen when people died? some information got lost. Scary isn't it. Seriously, this is just too complicated. Just make sure your spouse is listed as a joint account holder on all bank accounts, and that you have you will in order. Does it really matter if your email account is inaccessible? Who cares if your MP3's disappear? If your worried, just back them up on CD/DVD and call it a day. If I died, most of my online accounts would be inaccessible, but I don't think that really matters. Maybe I could ensure that my domain name stuff gets carried on, but I really don't care about my Twitter or Facebook accounts being accessible.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday April 15, 2013 @03:15PM (#43454557) Journal

    I already ran into this with Steam.
    When my sons started getting Steam games as gifts, they were too young for their own account (2004?) - they were 7? 8? so I (I guess, stupidly) applied their games to mine, would log on and let them play.

    Over the years, we just kept accumulating games, and applying them to "the house account". We did open an extra account once, so we could multiplayer (I think we have Magicka on that one too.), and then (by accident, since 14 year olds are often more interested in getting "that game" installed than thinking about) a couple more games got installed on that account too.

    Now they're 17+ and (obviously) have their own accounts.

    Unfortunately, I have games and stuff on my account that are technically theirs...Civ5, Magicka and a ton of expansions, Skyrim, etc. I don't play them, I don't want access to them, etc. I'd love to just xfer them to their account, and be done. But right now we basically have to text each other "Dad, you on steam account (X) tonight, or can I play on it?" because we have my (main) account, our other (house) account, and then each of their accounts.

    (I tried to raise this concern earlier here, and the Slashmob attacked me for lying, fabricating the situation, and all sorts of things. Not sure why? But I simply doubt many of these services, and certainly Terms, weren't drafted with a 10+ year timeframe expected. Now I am paying the price for not thinking it through, either.)

Just because he's dead is no reason to lay off work.

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