Social Media Account as an Object of Virtual Property
This article analyzes the concept of virtual property as well as the legal nature of social media accounts to explore whether these can be considered objects of property, in particular, of virtual property rights. It examines the essence of virtual property and reveals the specifics of owner’s powers regarding to digital assets. It also specifies what kind of objects should be treated as digital assets. The technical and legal nature of a social media account are analyzed to reveal whether the latter can be considered as “possession” in terms of Protocol No. 1 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Some legal issues regarding to the use of a social media account including the division of rights to business accounts and inheritance of social media accounts are investigated. The approaches in various countries to the problem of determination of the post-mortem fate of digital assets are analyzed, and a unified tendency to consider social media accounts as part of the estate transferred to the heir is revealed. The conclusion is drawn that the extension of the property regime to social media accounts could ensure an appropriate legal protection of users’ rights.
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