Re: Content Provider Problem?

Fisher Mark (
Fri, 16 Sep 1994 14:41:00 +0200

Karl Auerbach writes in <>:
(> > is Brian Behlendorf):
> > > Basically, the problem decomposes into two areas:
> > > 1)Can you protect the information from being distributed.
> > No.
> > > 2)Can you mark the information such that if it is distributed, you can
> > > track the one who distributed it.
> > No.
> > My opinion, and echoed by people around here: content providers are just

> > going to have to deal with these realities. It's *unnatural* to the
> > medium to try to do 1 and 2.
>I suspect that if this were true that the big information providers
>won't publish through the web and will invent an alternative
>mechanism more to their liking. You might say that this means
>they are going against the tide. However, for a lot of information
>they are the only game in town and folks will jump through a lot of
>hoops to get (and pay for) their information.

If you are truly talking about information (HTTP server statistics, Internet
address lists, # of telephones by country, etc.), it is far too fluid to
easily be constrained by (1) or (2). The legal protections for information
are few. If they were not, almanac publishers would be out of business.
The expressions of information (like a particular almanac, William Gibson's
latest novel, etc.) are much more strongly protected under law. If you
abuse your rights to copy these items, the publishers have the legal clout
to protect themselves from you.

Programs are just one type of information, with the added ability to protect
themselves ("active information"). As someone who spent many hours working
on copy-protection schemes, I can tell you from experience that it is just
not possible to protect information 100%, even when it can defend itself
(like programs can). "Passive information" just doesn't have a chance.
Strangely enough, the "value-added" from legally dealing with the company
that manufactured the software has been enough motivation to people that the
software industry did not collapse and die when copy-protection pretty much
died off in the PC world, despite the predictions of some software

It is not possible to protect information on paper 100% (although copying is
lots more expensive!) -- let's not kid ourselves that we can obtain 100%
protection in cyberspace.
Mark Fisher Thomson Consumer Electronics Indianapolis, IN

"Just as you should not underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon
traveling 65 mph filled with 8mm tapes, you should not overestimate
the bandwidth of FTP by mail."