Download licence agreements

Digital downloads have some specific provisions under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

A digital download is classed as data which is produced and supplied in a digital format. 

Most terms and conditions state that you get a licence to use a digital download and set out what you're entitled to do with the copy of the download you've purchased.

You don’t get ownership of the download in the same way that you would if you’d bought a tangible product, which you could usually sell or give away as you pleased.


  • You don't get ownership of downloads, instead you have a licence to use it
  • You have no rights to give away or pass on your download
  • But some companies will allow next of kin to take ownership if they request access
  • You do have rights when digital content is faulty under the Consumer Rights Act

What happens to downloads if I die?

When you buy a digital download you buy a licence to use that download - you don't buy the download itself. 

You are effectively renting your music track, ebook or game for your lifetime. This means you have no rights to give away or pass on the download - even after your death. 

Most downloads are associated with a specific person and profile, for example an iTunes account. 

According to most download policies, your digital footprint is deleted when you die, which means your downloads often do too.

Passing on your downloads 

However, some companies will allow your next of kin to take ownership of your digital downloads after your death, if they write and request access.

Some companies, such as Google, are now offering digital executor services for your emails and other online accounts.

Be aware that passing on physical copies of digital downloads, for example an iPad preloaded with your music collection, is easier than passing on a digital library stored in the cloud.

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