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Issue No.08 - August (2001 vol.34)
pp: 24-30
<p>The traditional system of rights, royalties, and limits on reproduction of intellectual property has worked for books, records, motion pictures, and other physical media largely because of the difficulty and expense that reproducing them entailed. Currently, Napster, Gnutella, and other peer-to-peer sharing services have stretched if not broken this model, posing such a dire financial threat to content providers that the Recording Industry Association of America and five recording companies recently brought suit against Napster. </p> <p>If a consumer can duplicate a digital artifact and share it with a friend, the producer loses any profit from the duplicated artifact and any way to measure the duplicated item's relative popularity. Without a revenue stream or a means for measuring popularity, a producer cannot offer artists appropriate remuneration. Without payment, artists have little incentive for creating new work. </p> <p>Fortunately, technology--which helped create this problem--can also provide its solution. A digital library can protect intellectual properties by making unauthorized duplication impossible or at least extremely difficult, tracking each use of a given work while ensuring the user's anonymity, and allowing itself to be implemented inexpensively while remaining transparent to the consumer. </p><p>The digital battery's best chance for success stems from its theoretical ease of use, ubiquity, and low cost. As Napster has shown, consumers have few qualms about using pirated artifacts. Nor does guilt over the economic plight of artists appear to create a compelling obstacle to unauthorized copying. If, however, systems that incorporate digital batteries can provide consumers with access to items they desire, and do so in a way that's not overly intrusive, there may yet be hope for rescuing industries that depend on digital content. </p>
Timothy A. Budd, "Protecting and Managing Electronic Content with a Digital Battery", Computer, vol.34, no. 8, pp. 24-30, August 2001, doi:10.1109/2.940009
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