Bruce Willis is more usually seen escaping from explosions and battling terrorists to save the world.
His latest battle, however, takes him to the considerably quieter world of the courtroom – although he still faces a formidable opponent.
The Hollywood action hero is, according to The Sunday Times, considering legal action against technology giant Apple over his desire to leave his digital music collection to his daughters.
If he succeeds, he could benefit not just himself and his family but the millions who have purchased songs from Apple’s iTunes Store.
Willis has discovered that, like anyone who has bought music online, he does not actually own the tracks but is instead ‘borrowing’ them under a licence.
Most purchasers do not bother to read the details of the terms and conditions they agree to when buying an album but the small print makes it clear that music bought through iTunes should not be passed on to others.
Since Willis – who occasionally sings with a blues band and has appeared in a video for Damon Albarn’s band Gorillaz – has apparently spent thousands of dollars downloading music on to ‘many, many iPods’, he is keen to be able to hand it on legitimately to daughters Rumer, Scout and Tallaluh.
One approach he is reportedly considering is to ask his legal team to establish family trusts as the ‘holders’ of his downloaded music.
Another option is to support ongoing legal action in five US states to give downloaders more rights to do what they want with their music.
The legal actions face immense difficulties thanks to the enormous powers Apple established for itself at the start of the digital music age.
It can freeze the iTunes accounts of those it believes are passing on music to others and forbids the transfer of songs to MP3 players other than its own iPods.
Similar problems apply to the digital books millions download to electronic reading devices such as Amazon’s Kindle.
And, with sales of digital media rocketing, the issues around ownership of the books, music and films involved are affecting more people.
Solicitor Chris Walton said: ‘Lots of people will be surprised on learning all those tracks and books they have bought over the years don’t actually belong to them. It’s only natural you would want to pass them on to a loved one. The law will catch up, but ideally Apple and the like will update their policies and work out the best solution for their customers.’
Willis’s time as an occasional musician has helped make him passionate about who owns digital recordings.
Originally in a blues band called Loose Goose, he has more recently played guitar and sung with The Accelerators – performing with them in London and for US troops in Iraq.
Willis, 57, had daughters Rumer, 24, Scout, 20, and Tallulah, 18, with ex-wife Demi Moore, 49.
The family has a public-spirited streak that suggests the battle with Apple may be aimed at helping others – the children have spent summer holidays with their parents building a house for the poor in Guatemala.
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