Re: Napster: thoughts and comments.

Date: Wed Jul 12 2000 - 18:19:37 MDT

Lee writes:
> Another great frustration of mine in this never-ending discussion is
> having to constantly remind people of the difference between copyrights,
> trademarks, and fraud. Passing someone's work off as your own is fraud,
> and trading on the good name of an artist without eir consent is a
> violation of the trademark on their good name, and I absolutely
> support prosecution of those and always have.

Right, and here is an area where technology can probably work in favor
of these desires.

Trademarks can be transformed into cryptographic signatures by the
author's key. This will make it impossible to pass something else off
as being by another author, without their consent.

Fraud is more difficult, but the specific case of taking someone else's
work and claiming it is yours may be able to be dealt with by using
digital watermarks. The author's name could be embedded quasi-invisibly
in their work. If someone else claimed to have created it, the author
could release a short program which would decrypt and expose the hidden
data. Watermarks are not a particularly robust technology at present,
but this could work in some circumstances.

A simpler method would be digital timestamps, in which a secure notarizing
service allows the author to prove that they were the first one to create
a particular work. In that case it would be easy to handle cases of
disputed authorship.


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