Following on from my post on intellectual property last week, a few of the comments made threw up yet another can of worms.
Blogs, particularly, but other types of social media can have an enormous amount of time invested in them. Some people I know pretty much dedicate most of their spare time to blogging and as a result, their blogs are something that if we could value, would be worth a substantial amount of money. Some people have secured jobs as a result of their excellent social media presence. Others have been asked to write books. Some people develop a lucrative speaking career. Some go on to have careers in media. All based on their blogs.
So what happens to the blog if there is a divorce? Is it like other items of value and forms part of the settlement? Here is Australia, a general rule is that assets are divided 50/50 before children are taken into account. If a blog can be valued (and I know there are sites around that place a dollar value on the number of posts, hits, comments, etc) can it and should it form part of a settlement? Could you or should you have to buy out 50% of your partner’s share of your blog? What if you couldn’t afford that? What if they claimed half of the blog was theirs? If they cooked dinner every night while you blogged away and if the blog has such value, they might well have a try.
It’s all a bit of a nightmare.
The comments last week particularly focused on blogs and social media accounts being left in a will; URLs, usernames and passwords being recorded so that access to them could continue after the blogger departed. Again, some blogs could be of significant value and if they were bequeathed, what would be the result? Could a beneficiary sell the blog if they couldn’t/wouldn’t continue the work? What if the blog wasn’t mentioned in a will? Lots of people don’t even have a will, let alone think of adding something intangible like a blog. Would beneficiaries take the matter to court if there was a dispute over the bequeathing of the blog?
As mentioned in last week’s post, the use of social media has outstripped some of the understandings we’ve had as a society for many years. We need to start talking about some of these issues to help develop procedures for such instances.