Bruce Willis was all set to wage a one-man war against what doubtlessly would have been his big screen alter ego’s toughest adversary: Apple Computers and their tough-as-nails iTunes User Agreement. Except, according to his wife, Emma Heming-Willis, and her Twitter account, “It’s not a true story.”
The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, broke the story over Labor Day weekend, issuing an uncited declaration of Willis’ intent to take on the tech giant over its policy of owning the music you pay for. According to The Daily Mail, Willis was perturbed over Apple’s legal disclaimer, which reads:
This license granted to you for the Licensed Application by Licensor is limited to a nontransferable license to use the Licensed Application on any Apple-branded products running iOS (including but not limited to iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch) (“iOS Devices”) or Mac OS X (“Mac Computers”), as applicable (collectively, “Apple Device(s)”) that you own or control and as permitted by the usage rules set forth in the Mac App Store, App Store and iBookstore Terms and Conditions (the “Usage Rules”). This license does not allow you to use the Licensed Application on any Apple Device that you do not own or control, and except as provided in the Usage Rules, you may not distribute or make the Licensed Application available over a network where it could be used by multiple devices at the same time. You may not rent, lease, lend, sell, transfer redistribute, or sublicense the Licensed Application and, if you sell your Mac Computer or iOS Device to a third party, you must remove the Licensed Application from the Mac Computer or iOS Device before doing so.
Basically, the fine print states that anything purchased by you, me, or Mr. Willis through Apple’s iTunes store is essentially “rented” and not owned. Your entire digital discography of the Bad Religion catalogue, in Apple’s eyes, dies with you. Willis, who apparently believed that his children, Rumer, Tallulah, Scout, and Mabel would one day want his accumulation of John Fogerty songs (probably), took umbrage with that policy to the point where he was allegedly willing to take Apple to the battlefield it so recently emerged from, victorious.
Apple, who has so far not commented on the Willis story or its debated veracity, recently won a landmark patent lawsuit against rival company Samsung Electronics regarding phone technology.
From a legal standpoint though, it seems the ball would once again be in Apple’s court considering that anyone who wants to use any of the Cupertino, Calif.-based company’s technology must abide by a lengthy contract written in the sort of legalese that leaves you uncertain to what you might have just agreed. But whether it is their problem that most people don’t read the technical stuff remains to be seen.
In the rush that accompanies breaking news these days, most of the Internet ran wild with the story, forgetting that sometimes these things are too good to be true. Now, for most of the media, this story is all about spin control, and Willis himself doesn’t have much to say.
Had the story been true, it would have been a highly visible opening shot in what is certain to be a long and bloody battle regarding ownership of electronic property. As it stands now, Willis, like the character he portrays in the Die Hard franchise, is the unwilling hero — one man against unfathomable odds. But maybe, just maybe, he’ll come around and, once again, save the day.