CS 545-1: Electronic Commerce in Intellectual Property

Database Seminar 4 April 1997

Speaker: J. J. Horning
Director, Strategic Technologies and Architectural Research Laboratory (STAR Lab)
InterTrust Technologies Corporation, Sunnyvale, CA


Some forms of electronic commerce are starting to flourish, especially on the Internet. Electronic distribution and storage offer significant advantages to both providers and customers of intellectual property (e.g., books, magazines, news, video, images, music, databases, software). However, the vast majority of digital--or potentially digital--IP is not yet vended electronically. A major reason is rightsholders' well-founded concern that their digital content will be copied and redistributed uncontrollably after an initial sale--without generating any more revenue.

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").


From Jim Horning
Subject: What's Jim Horning up to?
Date: Tue, 01 Apr 97 17:46:00 PM
X-Mailer: Microsoft Mail V3.0


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.

Jim H.