LORNE GLADSTONE of Toronto is 58, but prudently ponderinghow to bequeathhis
digital property. Doing the paperwork after his parents’ death was a challenge.
“When my time comes, I wonder if my children will even know what paper is,” he
says. As a software developer, his virtual assets are both valuable and vitalto
his business. That exemplifies a problem. Online lives have increasing economic
and sentimental value. But testamentary laws offer muddledand incomplete ways of
bequeathing and inheriting them.
prudently adv. 谨慎地；慎重地
ponder v. 仔细考虑；衡量
bequeath v. 遗赠；把…遗赠给；把…传下去
virtual asset 虚拟资产
exemplify v. 例证；举例说明
testamentary law 遗嘱法
Digital assets may include software, websites, downloaded content, online
gaming identities, social-media accounts and even e-mails. In Britain alone
holdings of digital music may be worth over ￡9 billion ($14 billion). A fifth of
respondents to a Chinese local-newspaper survey said they had over 5,000 yuan
($790) of digital property. And value does not lie only in money. “Anyone with
kids under 14 years old probably has two prints of them and the rest are in
online galleries,” says Nathan Lustig of Entrustet, a company that helps people
manage digital estates.
social-media account 社交网络账号
holding n. 财产；持有量
Service providers have different rules—and few state them clearly in their
terms and conditions. Many give users a personal right to use an account, but
nobody else, even after death. Facebook allows relatives to close an account or
turn it into a memorial page. Gmail (run by Google) will provide copies of
e-mails to an executor. Music downloaded via iTunes is held under a licence
which can be revoked on death. Apple declined to comment on the record on this
or other policies. All e-mail and data on its iCloud service are deleted on the
death of the owner.
executor n. 执行者；遗嘱执行人
revoke v. 取消；撤回；废除
This has led to litigation in America. In 2004 the family of Justin
Ellsworth, a marine killed in Iraq, took Yahoo! to court in Michigan to get
copies of his e-mails. This year, a court in Oregon ruled that another bereaved
American mother could use her dead son’s password to enter his Facebook account
for a short period. Now five American states have enacted laws giving executors
control over the social-networking profiles of deceased users.
litigation n. 诉讼；起诉
take …to court 把……告上法庭
bereaved adj. 丧失亲人的；死了……的
enact v. 颁布；制定法律
deceased adj. 已故的 n. 死者
But this raises the subject of privacy. Passing music on is one thing; not
everyone may want their relatives snooping on their e-mails. Colin Pearson, a
London-based lawyer, says access should come only with an explicitprovision in a
pass on 传递；转让
snoop on 偷偷窥探
explicit adj. 明确的；清楚地；直率的
provision n. 规定；条款
Such clearly expressed wishes may help. An internet law expert in New
Delhi, Gurpreet Singh, has already seen a few cases of wills including digital
estates. “People are slowly realising the value,” he says. A nascentindustry is
emerging to simplify the process. Entrustet, newly acquired by a Swiss
competitor, SecureSafe, says it has 10,000 clients. It safeguards their
passwords, and a list of who can access what when they die.
emerge v. 形成；出现
simplify v. 简化
But laws, wills and password safes may clash with the providers’ terms of
service, especially when the executor is in one country and the data in another.
Headaches for the living—and lots of lovely work for lawyers.
clash with 与……冲突；不调和