Re: ECON: Intellectual Property Again

Grant Sparks (
Fri, 22 May 1998 12:19:30 +1000

Sorry to jump in the middle of your thread guys, but you got me thinking
about a particular example.

-----Original Message-----
From: Michael Lorrey <>
>There are many ways to doctor information to ensure that it can be
identified as a copy.
>For example, in my work, I deal with mail list brokers. We do mailstream
processing for
>their customers. The broker will send us a tape or disk with file(s) that
the customer
>rents from the broker for a single or more use. The customer then does his
or her mail
>campaign with the rented list. The doctoring comes in in that the list is
seeded with
>dummy name records which are set up by the broker.

The problem of course on the internet with this method is knowing *who* the
client is that has pirated your list.

For my example I will use a software purchase over the internet. In it's
simplest form;
1) The customers requests and pays for the software
2) The software is "watermarked" in some way to identify who it was sold to
3) The customer downloads this package, and if any pirate copies turn up
then we've got him.

The problem here is of course that there is currently no way of providing
this sort of identity matching. Short of smartcard implants at birth or DNA
authenticators on PC's, there may never be an effective way of doing this.

If you use my credit card number to watermark the file, it does you no good
to track me down because even though it was a *valid* credit card, I had
circumvented the bank's identification policy and got it in a false name.
You won't catch me because you don't know who to chase after.

In fact any "digital signature" is only as strong as it's policy for being
issued by the authority who makes it.

I'm interested in any pointers to discussions about how the information
economy will operate given the above conditions. In my opinion this is a
fundamentally different problem than has previously been addressed by any
economic model. How does Tim May's "Crypto-Anarchic Manifesto" translate to
real life and real economic activity ?

Keep the thread going, it's an interesting discussion. Better than A=!A
etc.. Ignore this detour if it isn't central to your point - I just wanted
to have expand on it a bit.

Grant Sparks