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rial that research scientists, students,

Intellectual- journalists, and others will lose the access
to intellectual property for academic and
public-interest purposes that they have
traditionally had.

Property Nonetheless, the sale of intellectual
property has so much potential for gen-
erating revenue, vendors plan to aggres-
sively pursue protective technologies.

A key concept for intellectual-prop-
erty-protection technology is the trusted

Opens Path for system. These systems, which can be
devices or applications, can be trusted to
follow usage-limitation rules imple-
mented by content owners.

E-commerce This can be a challenge on the PC plat-
form, though, which is not controlled by
content vendors and which makes the
copying of content very easy.
George Lawton “It is difficult on systems that are
open,” explained Mark Stefik, principal

scientist at Xerox PARC, who has con-
ne of the hottest areas of e-com- working on complex standards for pro- ducted extensive research into intellec-
merce is the online sale of tecting their products. (See the sidebar, tual-property protection.
music, documents, software, “Facing the Digital Music.”) This is why much of the work in intel-
and other forms of intellectual Content vendors take different lectual-property-protection technology
property. approaches to protecting their intellec- has focused on the PC.
To make these efforts successful, how- tual property. Some companies (such as Generally, vendors implement intel-
ever, vendors face a critical concern: how IBM, InterTrust, and Wave Systems) are lectual-property protection by inserting
to protect the intellectual property offering prepackaged multipurpose tech- machine-readable tags in the content.
they’re trying to sell over the Internet and nologies that vendors of various types of The tags, which the content vendor’s
keep people from copying, forwarding, content can purchase. intellectual-property-protection technol-
reselling, or otherwise using it without There are a number of concerns about ogy encodes with the applicable usage
payment or authorization. intellectual-property-protection technol- rights, can be placed into headers or
Preventing unauthorized use of intel- ogy. For example, some people are wor- woven into the content file itself. For
lectual property is a challenge when ried that the technology will give content example, with one music-protection
working in today’s online world. Digital owners so much control over their mate- technology, the tags are embedded into
technologies enable exact duplication of
commercial intellectual property, per-
mitting original-quality reproductions.
However, this works for both authorized Music
and unauthorized users. Meanwhile, ven- Intellectual- User’s
User rights
property- trusted
dors can use the Internet to sell intellec- Documents protection Encoded content Internet authentication
documents and payment
tual property, but individuals can also use technology player
it to improperly download and distrib- Encoded
ute content. video
With billions of dollars at stake, ven-
dors are investing in technologies for
encrypting intellectual property and Figure 1. Online content vendors’ intellectual-property-protection technology typically encodes
defining user rights. music, documents, or video with machine-readable tags. The tags describe how vendors want
For example, the music industry, to limit what users can do with the content, to keep them from playing, copying, or forwarding
which has suffered large-scale piracy it without authorization. Trusted content players decode the tags and enforce the limitations,
with the unauthorized distribution of after first verifying with online authentication servers that a user is authorized to access the
content provided via MP3 technology, is content.

14 Computer
the file as a subaudible signal.
As shown in Figure 1, a user’s trusted
device or a trusted application running Facing the Digital Music
on a nontrusted device checks with Digital music has become perhaps the most controversial area for intellec-
an online authentication and payment tual-property protection. The music industry has long-established brick-and-
server, and verifies that the user has paid mortar distribution channels but also wants profitable online channels.
for or is otherwise authorized to access However, the widespread unauthorized copying and distribution of digital
the content.The trusted player then de- music threatens both sets of channels. This has led to a flurry of intellectual-
codes the machine-readable tags and property-protection activity.
plays the content, while enforcing the
limitations by the vendor. MP3
For example, machine-readable tags One of the key drivers of music sales and piracy on the Internet has been MP3
written into plug-in intellectual-prop- technology, based on a standard developed by the Motion Picture Experts Group
erty-protection technology from Soft- (MPEG). MP3 compresses CD music into files one-twelfth the original size with
Lock. com can instruct players to restrict little quality loss, which makes online music transfer relatively quick.
an individual’s ability to copy, save, cut Content vendors then sell the MP3-based music over the Internet. Buyers can
and paste, or otherwise use a specified listen to the music over their PC or download it into a Walkman-like MP3 player,
Adobe Acrobat document in unautho- made by such companies as Creative Labs,
rized ways, said president and CEO Diamond, and Matsushita/ Panasonic.
Keith Loris. Forrester Research, a market research firm,
projects that the sales of digitally downloaded
MULTIPURPOSE APPROACHES music could grow from about $1 million in
Several vendors have developed mul- 1999 (compared to $890 million for online
tipurpose technologies that content ven- CD sales) to $1.1 billion in 2003 (compared
dors can purchase to protect their to $6.7 billion for online CD sales).
intellectual property. However, there are numerous Web sites that
let users download MP3 music for free, with-
IBM’s Cryptolope i2Go sells this eGo MP3 player. out the permission of the content’s owners.
IBM has developed a Java-based tech-
nology it calls Cryptolope (cryptographic SDMI
envelope), which can be used to protect The Secure Digital Music Initiative consortium of recording industry, consumer
audio, video, software, or documents. electronics, and IT companies has been working on a standard method for pro-
Protected content is wrapped in tecting MP3 and other types of digital music. SDMI executive director Leonardo
encryption. When a user tries to access Chiariglione said he has never seen such a complex standard progress so rapidly.
the content, either initially or subse- SDMI plans to develop the technology in stages. So far, the group has agreed
quently, the Cryptolope communicates on a subaudible screening signal, called a strong watermark, that will be incor-
via the Internet with an authentication porated into CDs or online music files. The strong watermark is robust enough
server. The server verifies the user cre- to maintain its integrity after the music has been compressed with virtually any
dentials required to access the product, audio codec, including MP3.
such as a credit card number for payment Another data signal, called a weak watermark, will also be embedded in the
or a record of previous payment. music. However, this signal will not survive if the music is illegally acquired and
When users properly access the con- compressed for online transmission. Future SDMI-compatible music players would
tent, a decryption key that is part of soft- then conclude, if they detect only the strong watermark, that the music was taken
ware placed on their machine opens the from a CD or a music file without authorization and would not play it.
Cryptolope transparently, noted Jeff Strong-watermark technology has been developed, but the SDMI consortium
Lotspiech, research staff member at is still working on weak-watermark technology. Proponents hope to develop
IBM’s Almaden Research Center. more refined watermark technology that can specify detailed user rights.
The user’s trusted device or applica- A number of vendors have announced plans to support SDMI in future music
tion reads any machine-readable tags players, intellectual-property-protection software, and content.
that are in the content and enforces any However, Matt Oppenheim, vice president and deputy general counsel of the
usage restrictions, with the help of the Recording Industry Artists Association (RIAA), said, “I think there will be no
Cryptolope opener software, he ex- single technology that will stand out as the best technology for all time and all
plained. methods of distribution. We will see a quickly evolving variety of technologies,
The software and the usage restrictions and the best system will be able to adapt as the new technologies are developed.”
are written in Java, which lets them work
across platforms, he said.

February 2000 15
I n d u s t r y Tr e n d s

InterTrust’s DigiBox Wave Systems: tent on a device that includes the chip.
Like the Cryptolope, InterTrust’s tech- a hardware approach Each chip offers a unique identifier code
nology uses a secure container—the Wave Systems has developed a flexi- so that a piece of content will run only
DigiBox—to protect content. ble, hardware-based intellectual-prop- on the machine with the chip.
However, with the DigiBox, once users erty-protection technology, the Embassy
pay for access to protected content, the chip, which can be embedded in a TV SOFTWARE: A SPECIAL CASE
authentication server, called the Inter- tuner card, a PC, a set-top box, a PDA, A considerable number of software
Rights Point, is downloaded onto their or another device. products are sold online. In some ways,
machines, explained InterTrust founder software is easy to protect because the
and chair David Van Wie. The server then Trusted systems developer controls the interface, which
checks occasionally via the Internet with are key to enforcing limits how users view and work with the
a transaction authority server managed rules that implement product. However, preventing outright
by InterTrust or one of its partners to intellectual-property piracy of software is a bigger challenge.
charge users’ accounts, if necessary, and Currently, many software vendors
to make sure the accounts are paid in full. control access to their products via a reg-
Because the authentication server is on istration-key code. A user must have the
the client, users can access protected con- The chip uses an open architecture and code to access the application. Of course,
tent even when offline. is programmable, which lets it host any individuals can send the codes to unau-
With many systems, when users pay intellectual-property-protection technol- thorized users.
for encrypted intellectual property, they ogy on demand. Some vendors protect their software
download it and then have to contact an A provider would protect its content by requiring users to attach hardware
online authentication server to decrypt it by developing its product so that it devices, known as dongles, to PC paral-
each subsequent time they want to access would run only with access to a security lel ports or Macintosh ADB (Apple desk-
it. This requires them to be online to applet on the Embassy chip. top bus) ports. Application users each
access the content. Purchasers would then play the con- have their own unique dongle.
A dongle can be a hardware key or key nology will give owners so much physi- Technical issues
diskette that an application has to access cal control over their content that schol- As with other forms of security, vendors
before running. This adds to the soft- ars, researchers, journalists, students, realize that crackers could break intellec-
ware’s cost and thus is generally used and others will lose their traditional right tual-property-protection technology.
only with software that is already expen- of fair use. Arnold Lutzker, a copyright attorney
sive or valuable. Under the US doctrine of fair use, an with Lutzker and Lutzker of Washing-
Dongles are difficult, but not impossible, individual can copy and use parts of a ton, D.C., said much of the Digital
to copy. In addition, some crackers have copyrighted work in a limited way (such Millennium Copyright Act of 1998
been able to alter dongle-dependent soft- as in a research paper) that does not inter- applies only to the initial access of con-
ware so it will run without the hardware. fere with the owner’s ability to market it. tent. Therefore, he said, subsequent use
Some observers are concerned that of content that was initially accessed
CONCERNS intellectual-property-protection technol- without authorization might not violate
The use of intellectual-property-pro- ogy would make it difficult or impossi- the law in all cases.
tection technology has sparked a num- ble to access, copy, cut and paste, and Perhaps the simplest way to break
ber of concerns. One issue is whether the otherwise use many documents, photo intellectual-property protection is to con-
ongoing improvement of technologies images, or audio and video clips, even for vert digital music, video, or documents
that control access to a growing amount fair-use purposes. into an analog format and then back to
of Internet content will make the Web “I think the issue is whether or not we digital, losing the intellectual-property
increasingly less open. are going to move to a pay-per-bit world. protection in the process. For example,
However, the most prevalent concerns Copyright law is supposed to be a balance analog music could be played into a PC’s
have been legal and technical. between ensuring a firm’s intellectual and sound card, recorded onto the hard drive,
financial investment and the need for an and then stored as a digital .wav file.
Legal issues educated country that has access to infor- With documents, a program such as
Some US legal experts are concerned mation,” said Lesley Ellen Harris, a Kleptomania could perform a screen cap
that intellectual-property-protection tech- Washington, D.C., copyright lawyer. Continued on page 21