It is only a matter of time before there is civil litigation over the ownership of a dead relative’s “tweets,” “posts,” or “texts.” (Tweet ownership has seen some action in courts already.)
While this might sound almost silly to many readers, that is only because it is novel both in the use of new language and in the notion that transient internet utterances capped at 142 characters and the like might have real and lasting value. But the fact is that now and for the foreseeable we are all relentlessly amassing digital autobiographies and, for some of us, this “body of work” that we will leave behind will be an asset to be valued, distributed, taxed, and so on. Are you ready to deal with that?
The Wall Street Journal recently addressed this issue in an article, quoting Gene Hennig of the Minneapolis-based law firm of Gray Plant Mooty. The article has some useful tips and considerations for those of us who have uploaded, downloaded, sideloaded, or archived significant amounts of data which, aggregated, is the closest thing one might ever have to a permanent record of one’s existence, one’s history, and one’s accomplishments in this digital age.