[Paper Overview] [DRM-Workshop Homepage]

Digital Goods' Position Paper for W3C:

Jonathan Schull
Founder and Chief Scientist
Digital Goods, Inc.

Three fundamental problems of the Digital Era can be addressed with one fundamental solution. (We should reshape digital policy debates, preserve and protect the digital commons)

Three fundamental problems are growing exponentially and compounding each other.

  1. Copyright Protection as valuable information proliferates, information creators are threatened.
  2. Privacy Protection as digitalized personal information proliferates, personal privacy is threatened.
  3. The Crisis of the Patent System as e-business method patents proliferate, independent inventors, the new economy, and patent system itself are threatened.


ever-more digitalization, bandwidth, and computing power means more copying

Recommended Strategies: exploit rather than suppress copying; create a convenient, fair and secure.

consumer-friendly persistently protected passalong, pay per use, and other rights-protecting compensation models.


ever-more cyber-people and ever-better tracking technologies

make privacy protection practical and profitable, not onerous

turn personal information into consumer-owned personal property, then let individuals set their own terms (the Personal Information Trust)


ever-more-burdensome bilateral licensing, litigation, and royalty payments

Recommended Strategy: put a new-age digital infrastructure in front of lawyer-intensive fall-backs

augment litigation and bilateral negotiations with:

  1. collaborative multilateral deliberation (IP Security Council)
  2. automated disbursement  of copyright and patent royalties

A Common Solution:Generalized Infomediary Architecture

A generalized infomediary architecture

Provides compensation for Copyright Holders

Cleanses, anonymizes, and adds value to personal information

Supports privacy protection and one-to-one marketing

Lets patent holders replace multilateral deliberation and automated compensation

Adversaries would become allies.

Consumers become privacy-protected copyright holders (of personal IP)

Copyright holders benefit from copying and receive compensation

Marketers have access to qualified and willing consumers

Patent holders have an efficient forum for mediation and compensation

Privacy advocates could wield carrots instead of sticks

Policy makers could make things better instead of worse

An infomediary architecture (1992)

SoftLock's US Patent 5509070, filed 1992; issued 1996:

A centralized DRM service that

2001:the Model Proliferates:

2001:Many new businesses, many new patents, many new lawsuits.