Re: How about a Safe Virtual Machine? or extensable network directories and agent functionallity

Karl Auerbach (
Wed, 5 Oct 1994 20:44:14 +0100

> >We can get part way there just by having common standards for posting
> >rates, terms and conditions. (By analogy with a restaurant, that's
> >like posting the menu to a restaurant outside the door. Of course it
> >doesn't tell you whether the food is good, but at least you know the
> >price and whether they take checks.)
>In addition, one thing I've been cogitating on is how to express
>copyright restrictions/licensing terms/payment agent information in a
>way that a user's automated browser can read *before* fetching the
>entire document (i.e. using a HEAD request). Making copyright
>comprehensible to a *program* (especially in my self-imposed limit of
>400 bytes, max) is a bit of a challenge.
>I also have to address this issue. We should collaboratively make a list of
>the elements in question, then we can better divide what needs to be done
>with each element and how we as a group can handle it.
>I have stated before that I think it is pertinant to be able to
>automatically search a "distributed directory of information"
>that would contain some of these elements. An agent, client ...
>whatever could then find all relavent materials ( bounded by
>some constaints ( part of the agent or client request, a multimedia
>"time to live" on steroids type of functionallity :) ) and
>return these to the actual user. The user software then can
>intelligently (we hope!) choose what information, and at what
>cost, copyright... they are willing to commit to downloading.

I think it is also important to add enough information so that the
user (or his/her client software) can "know" what restrictions are
imposed upon further use, copying, or redistribution of the material.

For example, I might publish a program and let you have a free copy,
but require that you do not distribute it further. I.e, I want to
remain the one and only publisher of my intellectual property.

It may or may not be possible for me to actually prevent you from
republishing by technical means, but I think it is important that you
know up-front what your obligations are with respect to a document
should you chose to fetch it.

In the case of the copyright expression, I've been considering that we
have meta-headers that say what the terms and conditions are for
fetching the document and that there be a URL (URN?) embedded into the
meta headers which points to a document describing the restrictions on
use of that document after it has been fetched.

(This could get to be a recursive problem, as I know of people who
have copyrighted their software license contracts.)

I don't think these ideas necessarily apply in what I've been calling
the "Woolworth's" mode of WWW buying and selling -- i.e. simple
retail. However, I think they are important to the big information