Rightsholders need credible assurances that each use of their content will be consistent with the controls they choose to associate with it (e.g., payment, usage reporting). Customers need to be able to find out easily what something costs and to pay for each use easily. It should be much easier to be honest than to cheat. Personal information should be controlled as scrupulously as financial information.
I will discuss some design requirements for a ubiquitous system of electronic commerce in IP. Then I will outline the approach developed by InterTrust. Digital content or business rules can be packaged in a DigiBox(TM) secure container, which can be processed only by an InterTrust Commerce Node(TM), a tamper-resistant execution environment residing on participating machines. The architecture supports electronic versions of many kinds of traditional commerce. Interesting new forms of commerce, such as "superdistribution," become feasible when persistent electronic controls supplement legal restrictions (e.g., copyright) and physical restrictions (e.g., "copy protection").
Well, it's not the front page of the New York Times, but some information about the InterTrust STAR Lab is now available via a link from InterTrust's home page. I will be adding more information as I find time.