Mar 09

iPass away – do my digital downloads die with me? (Which Conversation, Feb. 20, 2012):

If you’ve built up a proud collection of books, records and DVDs, you’d expect to be able to pass them on to your next of kin. But what happens to all of the downloads you’ve paid for during your life?

The digital afterlife is an uncertain business, it seems. We challenged both Apple and Amazon on whether digital downloads could be passed on after death, and neither could give us a definitive answer.

As more and more purchases are made in a digital, rather than physical form, we think it’s time for the main digital retailers to clear up our rights to pass on property we’ve paid for.

Purchasing a product, or renting a licence?

As it stands, the rights of iTunes and Amazon customers look pretty shaky when it comes to passing on downloads. If you buy a music track from a digital store, you’re essentially buying a licence to play that track – a licence granted to you only, which isn’t transferable upon death.

Legally you’re essentially just renting tracks – you don’t actually own them, as Matthew Strain of law firm Strain-Keville pointed out to us in the latest issue of Which? Computing:

‘We do not “own” what we purchase on iTunes, we only have the right to use it. The right to the “product” is therefore limited and passing it on to someone else is not likely to be accepted by Apple.’

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Nov 26

Apple iTunes flaw ‘allowed government spying for 3 years’ (Telegraph, Nov. 24, 2011):

An unpatched security flaw in Apple’s iTunes software allowed intelligence agencies and police to hack into users’ computers for more than three years, it’s claimed.

A British company called Gamma International marketed hacking software to governments that exploited the vulnerability via a bogus update to iTunes, Apple’s media player, which is installed on more than 250 million machines worldwide.

The hacking software, FinFisher, is used to spy on intelligence targets’ computers. It is known to be used by British agencies and earlier this year records were discovered in abandoned offices of that showed it had been offered to Egypt’s feared secret police.

Apple was informed about the relevant flaw in iTunes in 2008, according to Brian Krebs, a security writer, but did not patch the software until earlier this month, a delay of more than three years.

“A prominent security researcher warned Apple about this dangerous vulnerability in mid-2008, yet the company waited more than 1,200 days to fix the flaw,” he said in a blog post.

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