Very much has changed about the way businesses and people in society handle their work and personal business. With the introduction of advancements in technology, a great many improvements have been made that have benefited us and helped improve our quality of living. The internet, for example, has greatly revolutionized the way we retrieve information, and it has also expanded our ways of communicating with one another. What could only be done through landline phones can now be done over the computer via instant messaging, chat rooms, and video conferencing.
How we communicate and how we conduct business are not the only things that have changed. One sector that plays an important role in a lot of people’s lives has also made great strides in technology. That sector is music and all things that are related to music. The way we listen to music has changed, and the way we record our music has also changed as more instruments feature better ways of recording. From instruments to the very songs that we listen to, technology has definitely changed the way we utilize these things in our everyday lives.
First came the 8 track. Then the cassette tape. Then the compact disc, and now music is downloadable via the internet. The usual cost of a single song is about 99 cents, but some sites will offer whole albums at a discounted price, and sites like Zune allow unlimited downloads for just a few bucks every month. There is no need to buy an actual compact disc at a record store anymore, which has affected music stores nationwide. Many big music names, such as Wherehouse and Virgin, have shut down many, if not all, of their outlets.
The other bad side about digital music files is the issue of piracy, and it has cost many musicians millions of dollars in lost sales. File-sharing programs and sites are readily available and accessible by just about anyone who has access to a computer and the internet. Thus, these files can be uploaded onto a computer and shared freely over these file-sharing sites and programs. At the expense of musicians, all it takes is one person to buy these files, make them available on these sites or programs, and virtually anyone can download them.
There is no way to monitor each individual who downloads files that are protected by copyright laws, and it is up to the individual to decide whether or not they will or will not use these file-sharing sites or programs for their music.
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Cypherpunks Freedom and the Future of the Internet – Julian Assange with Jacob Appelbaum, Andy Muller-Maguhn and Jeremie Zimmermann
Image by Iron Man Records
"Cypherpunks is gripping, vital reading, explaining clearly the way in which corporate and government control of the internet poses a fundamental threat to our freedom and democracy". — Oliver Stone
"Obligatory reading for everyone interested in the reality of our freedoms." — Slavoj Zizek
"The power of this book is that it breaks a silence. It marks an insurrection of subjugated knowledge that is, above all, a warning to all." — John Pilger
Cypherpunks are activists who advocate the widespread use of strong cryptography (writing in code) as a route to progressive change. Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief of and visionary behind WikiLeaks, has been a leading voice in the cypherpunk movement since its inception in the 1980s.
Now, in what is sure to be a wave-making new book, Assange brings together a small group of cutting-edge thinkers and activists from the front line of the battle for cyber-space to discuss whether electronic communications will emancipate or enslave us. Among the topics addressed are: Do Facebook and Google constitute "the greatest surveillance machine that ever existed," perpetually tracking our location, our contacts and our lives? Far from being victims of that surveillance, are most of us willing collaborators? Are there legitimate forms of surveillance, for instance in relation to the "Four Horsemen of the Infopocalypse" (money laundering, drugs, terrorism and pornography)? And do we have the ability, through conscious action and technological savvy, to resist this tide and secure a world where freedom is something which the Internet helps bring about?
The harassment of WikiLeaks and other Internet activists, together with attempts to introduce anti-file sharing legislation such as SOPA and ACTA, indicate that the politics of the Internet have reached a crossroads. In one direction lies a future that guarantees, in the watchwords of the cypherpunks, "privacy for the weak and transparency for the powerful"; in the other lies an Internet that allows government and large corporations to discover ever more about internet users while hiding their own activities. Assange and his co-discussants unpick the complex issues surrounding this crucial choice with clarity and engaging enthusiasm.
Publication November 2012 • 192 pages
Paperback ISBN 978-1-939293-00-8 • Ebook ISBN 978-1-939293-01-5
Julian Assange is the editor in chief of WikiLeaks. An original contributor to the cypherpunk mailing list, Assange is the author of numerous software projects in line with the cypherpunk philosophy, including the Rubberhose encryption system and the original code for WikiLeaks. An ‘ethical hacker’ in his teens, and subsequently an activist and internet service provider to Australia during the 1990s, he is the co-author (with Sulette Dreyfus) of Underground, a history of the international hacker movement. "Julian is currently a refugee under the protection of the government of Ecuador, and lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London."
Jacob Appelbaum is a staff research scientist at the University of Washington, and a developer and advocate for the Tor Project, which is an online anonymity system for everyday people to fight against surveillance and against internet censorship.
Andy Müller-Maguhn is a long time member of, and former spokesman for, the Chaos Computer Club in Germany. A specialist on surveillance he runs a company called Cryptophone, which markets secure voice communication devices to commercial clients.
Jérémie Zimmermann is the co-founder and spokesperson for the citizen advocacy group La Quadrature du Net, the most prominent European organization defending anonymity rights online and promoting awareness of regulatory attacks on online freedoms.
AN EXCHANGE FROM CYPHERPUNKS:
I want to look at what I see as a difference between a US cypherpunk perspective and the European perspective, which I think is quite interesting. The US Second Amendment is the right to bear arms. Just recently I was watching some footage that a friend shot in the US on the right to bear arms, and above a firearms store it says ‘Democracy, Locked and Loaded,’ and that’s the way that you ensure that you don’t have totalitarian regimes – that people are armed and if they are pissed off enough, then they simply take their arms and they retake control by force. Whether that argument is still valid now is actually an interesting one because of the difference in the types of arms that have occurred over the past 30 years. So, we can look back to this declaration that code-making, providing secret cryptographic codes that the government couldn’t spy on, was in fact a munition, and this big war that we fought in the 1990s to try and make cryptography available to everyone, which we largely won.
In the West?
In the West we largely won and it’s in every browser – it is now perhaps being back-doored and subverted in different kinds of ways. The notion is that you cannot trust a government to implement the policies that it says that it is implementing, and so we must provide the underlying tools, cryptographic tools that we control, as a sort of use of force, in that if the ciphers are good no matter how hard it tries a government cannot break into your communications directly. Maybe it can put a bug in your house or whatever.
Force of authority is derived from violence. One must acknowledge with cryptography no amount of violence will ever solve the math problem.
And this is the important key. It doesn’t mean you can’t be tortured, it doesn’t mean that they can’t try and bug your house or subvert it some way but it means that if they find an encrypted message it doesn’t matter if they have the force of the authority behind everything that they do, they cannot solve that math problem. This is the thing though that is totally non-obvious to people that are non-technical and it has to be driven home. If we could solve all of those math problems, it would be a different story and, of course, the government will be able to solve those math problems if anyone could.
But it’s just a fact. It just happens to be a fact about reality, such as that you can build atomic bombs, that there are math problems that you can create that even the strongest state cannot directly break. I think that was tremendously appealing to Californian libertarians and others who believed in this sort of ‘democracy locked and loaded,’ and here was a very intellectual way of doing it – of a couple of individuals with cryptography standing up to the full power of the strongest suit of power in the world. And we’re still doing that a little bit, but I wonder, I have a view that the likely outcome is that those are really tremendously big economic forces and tremendously big political forces, like Jérémie was saying, and that the natural efficiencies of these technologies compared to the number of human beings will mean that slowly we will end up in a global totalitarian surveillance society. By totalitarian I mean a total surveillance, and that perhaps there’ll just be the last free living people – and these last free living people are those who understand how to use this cryptography to defend against this complete, total surveillance, and some people who are completely off-grid, neo-Luddites that have gone into the cave, or traditional tribes-people. And these traditional people have none of the efficiencies of a modern economy so their ability to act is very small. Are we headed for that sort of scenario?
First of all, if you look at it from a market perspective, I’m convinced that there is a market in privacy that has been mostly left unexplored, so maybe there will be an economic drive for companies to develop tools that will give users the individual ability to control their data and communication. Maybe this is one way that we can solve that problem. I’m not sure it can work alone, but this may happen and we may not know it yet. Also it is interesting to see that what you’re describing is the power of the hackers, in a way – ‘hackers’ in the primary sense of the term, not a criminal. A hacker is a technology enthusiast, is somebody who likes to understand how technology works, not to be trapped into technology but to make it work better. I suppose that when you were five or seven you had a screwdriver and tried to open devices to understand what it was like inside. So, this is what being a hacker is, and hackers built the Internet for many reasons, also because it was fun, and they have developed it and have given the Internet to everybody else. Companies like Google and Facebook saw the opportunity to build business models based on capturing users’ personal data. But still we see a form of power in the hands of hackers and what is my primary interest these days is that we see these hackers gaining power, even in the political arenas. In the US there has been these SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) legislations – violent copyright legislation that basically gives Hollywood the power to order any Internet company to restrict access and to censor the internet.
And banking blockades like the one we’re suffering from.
Exactly. What happened to WikiLeaks from the banking companies was becoming the standard method to fight the evil copyright pirates that killed Hollywood and so on. And we witnessed this tremendous uproar from civil society on the Internet – and not only in the US, it couldn’t have worked if it was only US citizens who rose up against SOPA and PIPA. It was people all around the world that participated, and hackers were at the core of it and were providing tools to the others to help participate in the public debate.
What would you say if you were told that you were losing thousands upon thousands of dollars on a piece of software that you have created and are trying to make a profit off of? Well, it is the truth. Software piracy is a problem that has brought the software industry to a near standstill, costing the industry billions of dollars each and every year in lost revenue, not to mention thousands upon thousands of software and IT jobs in the United States.
Something must be done about the issue of software piracy but what? Copyright infringement is a faceless crime; the victim is often the hard working programmer but the assailant could be anybody; you could look them in the face and not know who they are. For this reason, it is important to protect your digital media as much as you possibly can because of all intellectual property is it at the most risk of infringement by others, and those who can take advantage of a weak security process or a hole in programming certainly will.
The world is full of those who want to profit from something that they had no part in. It has been going on since the beginning of time and the only difference now is that technology has allowed people to take advantage of the work of others like never before, as well as giving them an even more efficient means of distributing and even profiting from the work of others. It seems you don’t have to have a software programming degree or experience to make money selling computer programs or similar digital media; all you have to do is be the proud owner of a CD or DVD burner and maybe even a few good hacking skills.
Good digital rights management techniques are necessary now more than ever before. Unfortunately it is another investment in its own but there are services out there that are making good digital rights management services more and more affordable, just to offset the enormous killing that software piracy is causing to the industry.
If you have created a software program, take the necessary steps to prevent it form being copied or utilized by others to make a profit. A computer program or video game, picture or e-book is just as important as a painting or novel and it is just as wrong to sell and distribute one as the other. Without having appropriate digital rights management procedures in place you are leaving yourself open to an unnamed amount of money in profits. Do the right thing and protect your digital property somehow or another.
Think of all of the digital media that flows through the internet, such as e-books, copyrighted images, articles, software, and other things. The internet is not as secure as it could and probably should be, and if you are one of those people who are using the computer and Internet to your advantage to gain a skill and gain something monetary from it, you are more at risk than ever before.
Just why is that, you ask? It is rather simple. As technology advances and gives you the tools and capabilities necessary to create innovative products it also gives other people out there license to take it and that can fast defeat the purpose of creating software to sell for profit in the first place.
If you were creating something for fair use and share with other people, digital rights management would not be important but in the case that you are creating something to make available to customers for a price, digital rights management is an important thing to take into consideration. For every person that takes your software or product and comes by it illegally or immorally, they are bound to share it with at least one person. That not only takes out of your pocket what you are due by their having possession of your product but it also doubles that due to their likelihood to share it with another person.
Luckily, there are services out there for people who do not have their own method of digital rights management in place. Service like Lock It Now! And Software Defender provides photographers, e-book creators and software entrepreneurs the opportunity to protect their product with an automated registration verification system, protecting you against repeat ‘refunders’ (those who order your product just to copy it and request a refund of their money, thereby having obtained your product for free).
Copyright infringement and software piracy are as real as any computer program, e-book or digital image out there so it is important to make sure that you take the necessary steps to protect your intellectual property from people who care not to pay for the things in life that they want.
Rod Beckwith is a successful software and services publisher that has created “Lock It Now!,” which protects digital products from piracy, refunds and chargebacks. For more info click on the link. Lock It Now!
A Bitcoin You Can Flip
Image by jurvetson
My son has become fascinated with bitcoins, and so I had to get him a tangible one for Xmas (thanks Sim1!). The public key is imprinted visibly on the tamper-evident holographic film, and the private key lies underneath.
I too was fascinated by digital cash back in college, and more specifically by the asymmetric mathematical transforms underlying public-key crypto and digital blind signatures.
I remembered a technical paper I wrote, but could not find it. A desktop search revealed an essay that I completely forgot, something that I had recovered from my archives of floppy discs (while I still could).
It is an article I wrote for the school newspaper in 1994. Ironically, Microsoft Word could not open this ancient Microsoft Word file format, but the free text editors could.
What a fun time capsule, below, with some choice naivetés…
I am trying to reconstruct what I was thinking, and wondering if it makes any sense. I think I was arguing that a bulletproof framework for digital cash (and what better testing ground) could be used to secure a digital container for executable code on a rental basis. So the expression of an idea — the specific code, or runtime service — is locked in a secure container. The idea would be to prevent copying instead of punishing after the fact. Micro-currency and micro-code seem like similar exercises in regulating the single use of an issued number.
Now that the Bitcoin experiment is underway, do you know of anyone writing about it as an alternative framework for intellectual property?
IP and Digital Cash
@NORMAL: Digital Cash and the “Intellectual Property” Oxymoron
By Steve Jurvetson
Many of us will soon be working in the information services or technology industries which are currently tangled in a bramble patch of intellectual property law. As the law struggles to find coherency and an internally-consistent logic for intellectual property (IP) protection, digital encryption technologies may provide a better solution — from the perspective of reducing litigation, exploiting the inherent benefits of an information-based business model, and preserving a free economy of ideas.
Bullet-proof digital cash technology, which is now emerging, can provide a protected “cryptographic container” for intellectual expressions, thereby preserving traditional notions of intellectual property that protect specific instantiations of an idea rather than the idea itself. For example, it seems reasonable that Intuit should be able to protect against the widespread duplication of their Quicken software (the expression of an idea), but they should not be able to patent the underlying idea of single-entry bookkeeping. There are strong economic incentives for digital cash to develop and for those techniques to be adapted for IP protection — to create a protected container or expression of an idea. The rapid march of information technology has strained the evolution of IP law, but rather than patching the law, information technology itself may provide a more coherent solution.
Information Wants To Be Free
Currently, IP law is enigmatic because it is expanding to a domain for which it was not initially intended. In developing the U.S. Constitution, Thomas Jefferson argued that ideas should freely transverse the globe, and that ideas were fundamentally different from material goods. He concluded that “Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.” The issues surrounding IP come into sharp focus as we shift to being more of an information-based economy.
The use of e-mail and local TV footage helps disseminate information around the globe and can be a force for democracy — as seen in the TV footage from Chechen, the use of modems in Prague during the Velvet Revolution, and the e-mail and TV from Tianammen Square. Even Gorbachev used a video camera to show what was happening after he was kidnapped. What appears to be an inherent force for democracy runs into problems when it becomes the subject of property.
As higher-level programming languages become more like natural languages, it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish the idea from the code. Language precedes thought, as Jean-Louis Gassée is fond of saying, and our language is the framework for the formulation and expression of our ideas. Restricting software will increasingly be indistinguishable from restricting freedom of speech.
An economy of ideas and human attention depends on the continuous and free exchange of ideas. Because of the associative nature of memory processes, no idea is detached from others. This begs the question, is intellectual property an oxymoron?
Intellectual Property Law is a Patch
John Perry Barlow, former Grateful Dead lyricist and co-founder (with Mitch Kapor) of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that “Intellectual property law cannot be patched, retrofitted or expanded to contain digitized expression… Faith in law will not be an effective strategy for high-tech companies. Law adapts by continuous increments and at a pace second only to geology. Technology advances in lunging jerks. Real-world conditions will continue to change at a blinding pace, and the law will lag further behind, more profoundly confused. This mismatch may prove impossible to overcome.”
From its origins in the Industrial Revolution where the invention of tools took on a new importance, patent and copyright law has protected the physical conveyance of an idea, and not the idea itself. The physical expression is like a container for an idea. But with the emerging information superhighway, the “container” is becoming more ethereal, and it is disappearing altogether. Whether it’s e-mail today, or the future goods of the Information Age, the “expressions” of ideas will be voltage conditions darting around the net, very much like thoughts. The fleeting copy of an image in RAM is not very different that the fleeting image on the retina.
The digitization of all forms of information — from books to songs to images to multimedia — detaches information from the physical plane where IP law has always found definition and precedent. Patents cannot be granted for abstract ideas or algorithms, yet courts have recently upheld the patentability of software as long as it is operating a physical machine or causing a physical result. Copyright law is even more of a patch. The U.S. Copyright Act of 1976 requires that works be fixed in a durable medium, and where an idea and its expression are inseparable, the merger doctrine dictates that the expression cannot be copyrighted. E-mail is not currently copyrightable because it is not a reduction to tangible form. So of course, there is a proposal to amend these copyright provisions. In recent rulings, Lotus won its case that Borland’s Quattro Pro spreadsheet copied elements of Lotus 123’s look and feel, yet Apple lost a similar case versus Microsoft and HP. As Professor Bagley points out in her new text, “It is difficult to reconcile under the total concept and feel test the results in the Apple and Lotus cases.” Given the inconsistencies and economic significance of these issues, it is no surprise that swarms of lawyers are studying to practice in the IP arena.
Back in the early days of Microsoft, Bill Gates wrote an inflammatory “Open Letter to Hobbyists” in which he alleged that “most of you steal your software … and should be kicked out of any club meeting you show up at.” He presented the economic argument that piracy prevents proper profit streams and “prevents good software from being written.” Now we have Windows.
But seriously, if we continue to believe that the value of information is based on scarcity, as it is with physical objects, we will continue to patch laws that are contrary to the nature of information, which in many cases increases in value with distribution. Small, fast moving companies (like Netscape and Id) protect their ideas by getting to the marketplace quicker than their larger competitors who base their protection on fear and litigation.
The patent office is woefully understaffed and unable to judge the nuances of software. Comptons was initially granted a patent that covered virtually all multimedia technology. When they tried to collect royalties, Microsoft pushed the Patent Office to overturn the patent. In 1992, Software Advertising Corp received a patent for “displaying and integrating commercial advertisements with computer software.” That’s like patenting the concept of a radio commercial. In 1993, a DEC engineer received a patent on just two lines of machine code commonly used in object-oriented programming. CompuServe announced this month that they plan to collect royalties on the widely used GIF file format for images.
The Patent Office has issued well over 12,000 software patents, and a programmer can unknowingly be in violation of any them. Microsoft had to pay 0MM to STAC in February 1994 for violating their patent on data compression. The penalties can be costly, but so can a patent search. Many of the software patents don’t have the words “computer,” “software,” “program,” or “algorithm” in their abstracts. “Software patents turn every decision you make while writing a program into a legal risk,” says Richard Stallman, founder of the League for Programming Freedom. “They make writing a large program like crossing a minefield. Each step has a small chance of stepping on a patent and blowing you up.” The very notion of seventeen years of patent protection in the fast moving software industry seems absurd. MS-DOS did not exist seventeen years ago.
IP law faces the additional wrinkle of jurisdictional issues. Where has an Internet crime taken place? In the country or state in which the computer server resides? Many nations do not have the same intellectual property laws as the U.S. Even within the U.S., the law can be tough to enforce; for example, a group of music publishers sued CompuServe for the digital distribution of copyrighted music. A complication is that CompuServe has no knowledge of the activity since it occurs in the flood of bits transferring between its subscribers
The tension seen in making digital copies revolves around the issue of property. But unlike the theft of material goods, copying does not deprive the owner of their possessions. With digital piracy, it is less a clear ethical issue of theft, and more an abstract notion that you are undermining the business model of an artist or software developer. The distinction between ethics and laws often revolves around their enforceability. Before copy machines, it was hard to make a book, and so it was obvious and visible if someone was copying your work. In the digital age, copying is lightning fast and difficult to detect. Given ethical ambiguity, convenience, and anonymity, it is no wonder we see a cultural shift with regard to digital ethics.
Piracy, Plagiarism and Pilfering
We copy music. We are seldom diligent with our footnotes. We wonder where we’ve seen Strat-man’s PIE and the four slices before. We forward e-mail that may contain text from a copyrighted news publication. The SCBA estimates that 51% of satellite dishes have illegal descramblers. John Perry Barlow estimates that 90% of personal hard drives have some pirated software on them.
Or as last month’s Red Herring editorial points out, “this atmosphere of electronic piracy seems to have in turn spawned a freer attitude than ever toward good old-fashioned plagiarism.” Articles from major publications and WSJ columns appear and circulate widely on the Internet. Computer Pictures magazine replicated a complete article on multimedia databases from New Media magazine, and then publicly apologized.
Music and voice samples are an increasingly common art form, from 2 Live Crew to Negativland to local bands like Voice Farm and Consolidated. Peter Gabriel embraces the shift to repositioned content; “Traditionally, the artist has been the final arbiter of his work. He delivered it and it stood on its own. In the interactive world, artists will also be the suppliers of information and collage material, which people can either accept as is, or manipulate to create their own art. It’s part of the shift from skill-based work to decision-making and editing work.”
But many traditionalists resist the change. Museums are hesitant to embrace digital art because it is impossible to distinguish the original from a copy; according to a curator at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, “The art world is scared to death of this stuff.” The Digital Audio Tape debate also illustrated the paranoia; the music industry first insisted that these DAT recorders had to purposely introduce static into the digital copies they made, and then they settled for an embedded code that limited the number of successive copies that could be made from the a master source.
For a healthier reaction, look at the phenomenally successful business models of Mosaic/Netscape and Id Software, the twisted creator of Doom. Just as McAfee built a business on shareware, Netscape and Id encourage widespread free distribution of their product. But once you want support from Netscape, or the higher levels of the Doom game, then you have to pay. For industries with strong demand-side economies of scale, such as Netscape web browsers or Safe-TCL intelligent agents, the creators have exploited the economies of information distribution. Software products are especially susceptible to increasing returns with scale, as are networking products and most of the information technology industries.
Yet, the Software Publishers Association reports that 1993 worldwide losses to piracy of business application software totaled .45 billion. They also estimated that 89% of software units in Korea were counterfeit. And China has 29 factories, some state-owned, that press 75 million pirated CDs per year, largely for export. GATT will impose the U.S. notions of intellectual property on a world that sees the issue very differently.
Clearly there are strong economic incentives to protect intellectual property, and reasonable arguments can be made for software patents and digital copyright, but the complexities of legal enforcement will be outrun and potentially obviated by the relatively rapid developments of another technology, digital cash and cryptography.
Digital Cash and the IP Lock
Digital cash is in some ways an extreme example of digital “property” — since it cannot be copied, it is possessed by one entity at a time, and it is static and non-perishable. If the techniques for protecting against pilferage and piracy work in the domain of cash, then they can be used to “protect” other properties by being embedded in them. If I wanted to copy-protect an “original” work of digital art, digital cash techniques be used as the “container” to protect intellectual property in the old style. A bullet-proof digital cash scheme would inevitably be adapted by those who stand to gain from the current system. Such as Bill Gates.
Several companies are developing technologies for electronic commerce. On January 12, several High-Tech Club members attended the Cybermania conference on electronic commerce with the CEOs of Intuit, CyberCash, Enter TV and The Lightspan Partnership. According to Scott Cook, CEO of Intuit, the motivations for digital cash are anonymity and efficient small-transaction Internet commerce. Anonymity preserves our privacy in the age of increasingly intrusive “database marketing” based on credit card purchase patterns and other personal information. Of course, it also has tax-evasion implications. For Internet commerce, cash is more efficient and easier to use than a credit card for small transactions.
“A lot of people will spend nickels on the Internet,” says Dan Lynch of CyberCash. Banks will soon exchange your current cash for cyber-tokens, or a “bag of bits” which you can spend freely on the Internet. A competitor based in the Netherlands called DigiCash has a Web page with numerous articles on electronic money and fully functional demo of their technology. You can get some free cash from them and spend it at some of their allied vendors.
Digital cash is a compelling technology. Wired magazine calls it the “killer application for electronic networks which will change the global economy.” Handling and fraud costs for the paper money system are growing as digital color copiers and ATMs proliferate. Donald Gleason, President of the Smart Card Enterprise unit of Electronic Payment Services argues that “Cash is a nightmare. It costs money handlers in the U.S. alone approximately billion a year to move the stuff… Bills and coinage will increasingly be replaced by some sort of electronic equivalent.” Even a Citibank VP, Sholom Rosen, agrees that “There are going to be winners and losers, but everybody is going to play.”
The digital cash schemes use a blind digital signature and a central repository to protect against piracy and privacy violations. On the privacy issue, the techniques used have been mathematically proven to be protected against privacy violations. The bank cannot trace how the cash is being used or who is using it. Embedded in these schemes are powerful digital cryptography techniques which have recently been spread in the commercial domain (RSA Data Security is a leader in this field and will be speaking to the High Tech Club on January 19).
To protect against piracy requires some extra work. As soon as I have a digital bill on my Mac hard drive, I will want to make a copy, and I can. (Many companies have busted their picks trying to copy protect files from hackers. It will never work.). The difference is that I can only spend the bill once. The copy is worthless. This is possible because every bill has a unique encrypted identifier. In spending the bill, my computer checks with the centralized repository which verifies that my particular bill is still unspent. Once I spend it, it cannot be spent again. As with many electronic transactions today, the safety of the system depends on the integrity of a centralized computer, or what Dan Lynch calls “the big database in the sky.”
One of the most important limitations of the digital cash techniques is that they are tethered to a transaction between at least three parties — a buyer, seller and central repository. So, to use such a scheme to protect intellectual property, would require networked computers and “live” files that have to dial up and check in with the repository to be operational. There are many compelling applications for this, including voter registration, voting tabulation, and the registration of digital artwork originals.
When I asked Dan Lynch about the use of his technology for intellectual property protection, he agreed that the bits that now represent a bill could be used for any number of things, from medical records to photographs. A digital photograph could hide a digital signature in its low-order bits, and it would be imperceptible to the user. But those bits could be used with a registry of proper image owners, and could be used to prove misappropriation or sampling of the image by others.
Technology author Steven Levy has been researching cryptography for Wired magazine, and he responded to my e-mail questions with the reply “You are on the right track in thinking that crypto can preserve IP. I know of several attempts to forward plans to do so.” Digital cash may provide a “crypto-container” to preserve traditional notions of intellectual property.
The transaction tether limits the short-term applicability of these schemes for software copy protection. They won’t work on an isolated computer. This certainly would slow its adoption for mobile computers since the wireless networking infrastructure is so nascent. But with Windows ’95 bundling network connectivity, soon most computers will be network-ready — at least for the Microsoft network. And now that Bill Gates is acquiring Intuit, instead of dollar bills, we will have Bill dollars.
The transaction tether is also a logistical headache with current slow networks, which may hinder its adoption for mass-market applications. For example, if someone forwards a copyrighted e-mail, the recipient may have to have their computer do the repository check before they could see the text of the e-mail. E-mail is slow enough today, but in the near future, these techniques of verifying IP permissions and paying appropriate royalties in digital cash could be background processes on a preemptive multitasking computer (Windows ’95 or Mac OS System 8). The digital cash schemes are consistent with other trends in software distribution and development — specifically software rental and object-oriented “applets” with nested royalty payments. They are also consistent with the document-centric vision of Open Doc and OLE.
The user of the future would start working on their stationary. When it’s clear they are doing some text entry, the word processor would be downloaded and rented for its current usage. Digital pennies would trickle back to the people who wrote or inspired the various portions of the core program. As you use other software applets, such as a spell-checker, it would be downloaded as needed. By renting applets, or potentially finer-grained software objects, the licensing royalties would be automatically tabulated and exchanged, and software piracy would require heroic efforts. Intellectual property would become precisely that — property in a market economy, under lock by its “creator,” and Bill Gates’ 1975 lament over software piracy may now be addressed 20 years later.
——–end of paper———–
On further reflection, I must have been thinking of executable code (where the runtime requires a cloud connect to authenticate) and not passive media. Verification has been a pain, but perhaps it’s seamless in a web-services future. Cloud apps and digital cash depend on it, so why not the code itself.
I don’t see it as particularly useful for still images (but it could verify the official owner of any unique bundle of pixels, in the sense that you can "own" a sufficiently large number, but not the essence of a work of art or derivative works). Frankly, I’m not sure about non-interactive content in general, like pure video playback. "Fixing" software IP alone would be a big enough accomplishment.
As the Internet is evolving, it’s becoming easier and easier to download and stream movies and music illegally. How badly is this hurting the entertainment industry? Laci discusses a shocking new study saying that a good amount of people that pirate content also purchase a lot of music and movies!
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File-Sharers Buy 30% More Music Than Non-P2P Peers
“One of the most comprehensive studies into media sharing and consumption habits in the United States and Germany reveals that file-sharers buy 30% more music than their non-sharing counterparts.”
Study Finds Pirates 10 Times More Likely To Buy Music
“Piracy may be the bane of the music industry but according to a new study, it may also be its engine. A report from the BI Norwegian School of Management has found that those who download music illegally are also 10 times more likely to pay for songs than those who don’t.”
Portsmouth University Study Show Movie Pirates’ Motives
“People who illegally download billions of pounds worth of movies also love going to the cinema and do not mind paying to watch movies, according to researchers at the University of Portsmouth.”
No Stopping Illegal Downloads
TestTube Wild Card
Will Internet Kill Religion?
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Are you aware of how much money you are losing if you sell digital products on the internet. Digital piracy is becoming an ever increasing problem for anyone who delivers digital products of any kind including PDF files, software, ebooks, video’s, software and so on. As the internet grows so does illegal access to protected content. Don’t you think It’s time you start protecting your digital assets?
As amazing as this might seem over half of internet user feel that it OK to share protected content. Due to the internet being the information highway most user don’t even realize how big a problem digital piracy has become. The problem has now grown into a multi billion dollar a year industry.
You are probably thinking to yourself that the majority of loss is with large companies like Microsoft or the record industry and to a certain extent you are correct. But, by not protecting digital assets internet marketers, writers, and software developers are taking a big hit and it is costing most more than they realize.
If you sell digital products than you know that most shopping carts have built in protection systems but what is protecting your files after that? What about the percentage of sales that you end up refunding? I can’t count how many times someone has purchased an ebook from me, downloaded the file, and then asked for a refund just minutes later. There was no possible way that they could have read my book that fast. Wouldn’t you consider that to be digital piracy? If I would have had digital download protection software I could have repossessed my files.
Look at the financial side of digital piracy. Just for sake of example lets estimate your software sales at 150 per month on a product that sells for $ 45. That would be a total of $ 6,750 per month. If your average refunds are 10% of your purchases than you lost $ 675 or $ 8,100 over the course of a year. That is a lot of money to me but piracy doesn’t stop there. Many of your files are probably being shared on forums or with your buyers friends and family. Some may even be sold illegally.
The whole thought of losing that much money is probably making you sick to your stomach. Well don’t fret because there are now products which can completely stop all types of piracy. There are not very many but there are some out there. When you want to stop losing money there are some things you will want to look for when analyzing available digital download protection products.
Look for a feature rich product which has the ability to lock your files, disable them, and repossess them. I would definitely purchase a product that offered unlimited file protection. To prevent sharing look for products that track usage. Products that allow you to set Expiration dates and trial periods can really pay off for you.
The sooner you start protecting your digital products the sooner your income will start to grow. You will start to see more sales, less refunds, and more money in the bank! Wouldn’t it be absolutely priceless to see the look on the face of one of your customers who refunded their product and then tried to use it.
Beofe you purchase any digital download protection software on the internet be sure to check out M. E. Millers awesome review of Digital Download Protection and Digital Piracy
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The Internet blacklist legislation—known as PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) in the Senate and Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—invites Internet security risks, threatens online speech, and hampers innovation on the Web. (blacklists.eff.org)