Re: Napster: thoughts and comments.

From: Lee Daniel Crocker (
Date: Thu Jul 13 2000 - 02:11:37 MDT

> 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.

Trademark enforcement is made easier by the fact that a trademark's
value is inherently correlated with how well-known it is. We might need
digital signatures to prevent me from forging an email in your name,
but if I tried to pass off my book as the next Steven King novel,
everyone would know about it and I wouldn't get to square one. No
fancy technology needed--just a call to Mr. King's agent.

> 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.

Signed timestamps have been in use for a long time--the BETSY service
will take incoming text over email and sign it with a timestamp. It's
original intent was to prove "prior art" in patent disputes, but it
can be used in combination with digital signature for fraud prevention
as well.

Watermarks are trickier. You can't really embed them in text, but you
can in images and probably music. It should be quite possible, for
example, for a band to create files of its songs that contained
a steganographic watermark that pointed to the band's own website, so
that anyone who got the file from any source could still ask eir
appropriately-configured software where it came from and how ey can
get more of the same. I should probably recommend a standard for this
to the OGG Vobis folks, as they are the format that will probably take
over from MP3.

Lee Daniel Crocker <> <>
"All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past,
are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used or modified
for any purpose, without permission, attribution, or notification."--LDC

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