This project, undertaken as a three-year PhD studentship at The University of Strathclyde, explores different legal and regulatory concepts, including notions of access, control, propertisation, ownership and succession of digital assets. It encompasses appropriate areas of private law, intellectual property law, personality law and privacy law, with a comparative perspective, and seeks to determine the nature of digital assets, what they encompass and whether they could fall within the scope of classical legal notions and concepts or whether these concepts perhaps need to be reconsidered and adjusted.
Having determined the nature of digital assets, the research aims to explore possibilities of their transfer in life and on death, using interviews with different stakeholders: users, lawyers, families and intermediaries. The research aims to provide some practical solutions and recommendations that could be useful for users, regulators and the industry, delivering both direct and indirect impact on quality of life of those nearing the end of life, by increasing their awareness of what kind of digital assets they would leave post-mortem and aiding formal implementations of their transer and succession wishes. The project will consider the concerns of families with regard to what happens to assets with both emotional and monetary value that the deceased leave post-mortem, particularly assets that the families would like to have access to.
Outcomes from this project will contribute to the cohesiveness and welfare of Internet user groups (e.g. social networks users, gaming communities) giving them an opportunity to have control over the assets they create, decreasing uncertainty and possible abuses in these communities.