A Network-Centric Design for Relationship-based Rights Management

Martin Röscheisen, Stanford Computer Science (Digital Libraries Project)

Seminar on People, Computers, and Design
Stanford University April 11, 1997


Interoperable rights management is one of the service layers that the current Internet is still lacking. In this talk, I describe FIRM, a relationship-based approach to rights management in heterogeneous, networked environments that we have prototyped as part of the Stanford Digital Libraries project.

FIRM defines a platform for "smart contracts" that is based on a computational reification of contract law; it is realized as part of a novel, network-centric architecture for managing control information that generalizes previous models centered around clients or servers.

By radically reducing the transaction costs involved in managing one-to-one relationships, FIRM makes it possible to recast issues such as security and privacy from a "protection" framework into one where these properties are obtained as the ancillary of successfully managed one-to-one relationships.


Martin Röscheisen is a PhD student in Computer Science at Stanford. In addition to his research as part of the digital libraries project, he has developed other network-related systems, including a service targeted at the legal community, (the "Yahoo for Legal Profesionals") FindLaw and the LawCrawler, and hosts Eritrea Online/Dehai, the country network of Eritrea. He has also done infrastructure deployment planning for North-East Africa (here at Stanford as part of the Afronet project at the Communications Satellite Planning Center).


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