Friday, April 1, 2016

Digital Assets

Mississippi nor Tennessee Courts have addressed digital assets in a divorce.  A digital asset can be anything from a social media account, to a blog, to an iTunes account.  It can even include Bitcoin and digital storage. Does a Facebook page have a value? Does a series of YouTube teaching videos? What about domain names?

Some of these “properties” can be divided using the models used when a court divides intellectual property.  Others cannot be divided at all, but one spouse can buy-out the other, or the income stream can be divided with post-separation efforts factored into a decrease of the shared income stream over time.

Many sites like Facebook prohibit their customers from transferring or allowing access to an individual’s page, but this should not bar a court from coming up with an equitable remedy to divide, allocate, or value these assets.  The arguments of preemption in the fields of patents, copyrights, and trademarks have not prevented courts from dividing these assets in a divorce.

This is an area ripe for litigation and largely unexplored.  I think some expert valuation testimony would be needed though to make much of this. 

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