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Chapter: Cryptography and Network Security Principles and Practice : Legal And Ethical Aspects

Intellectual Property

Types of Intellectual Property · Intellectual Property Relevant to Network and Computer Security · Digital Millennium Copyright Act · Digital Rights Management


The U.S. legal system, and legal systems generally, distinguish three primary types of property:

                           Real property: Land and things permanently attached to the land, such as trees, buildings, and stationary mobile homes.

                           Personal property: Personal effects, moveable property and goods, such as cars, bank accounts, wages, securities, a small business, furniture, insurance policies, jewelry, patents, pets, and season baseball tickets.

                           Intellectual property: Any intangible asset that consists of human knowledge and ideas. Examples include software, data, novels, sound recordings, the design of a new type of mousetrap, or a cure for a disease.

This section focuses on the computer security aspects of intellectual property.


Types of Intellectual Property

There are three main types of intellectual property for which legal protection is avail- able: copyrights, trademarks, and patents. The legal protection is against infringement, which is the invasion of the rights secured by copyrights, trademarks, and patents. The right to seek civil recourse against anyone infringing his or her prop- erty is granted to the IP owner. Depending upon the type of IP, infringement may vary (Figure 23.2).

COPYRIGHTS Copyright law protects the tangible or fixed expression of an idea, not the idea itself. A creator can claim copyright, and file for the copyright at a national government copyright office, if the following conditions are fulfilled:4

                           The proposed work is  original.

                           The creator has put this original idea into a concrete form, such as hard copy (paper), software, or multimedia form.

Examples of items that may be copyrighted include the following [BRAU01]:

                           Literary works: Novels, nonfiction prose, poetry, newspaper articles and news- papers, magazine articles and magazines, catalogs, brochures, ads (text), and compilations such as business directories

                           Musical works: Songs, advertising jingles, and instrumentals

                           Dramatic works: Plays, operas, and skits

                           Pantomimes and choreographic works: Ballets, modern dance, jazz dance, and mime works



                           Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works: Photographs, posters, maps, paintings, drawings, graphic art, display ads, cartoon strips and cartoon characters, stuffed animals, statues, paintings, and works of fine art

                           Motion pictures and other audiovisual works: Movies, documentaries, travel- ogues, training films and videos, television shows, television ads, and interac- tive multimedia works

                           Sound recordings: Recordings of music, sound, or words

                           Architectural works: Building designs, whether in the form of architectural plans, drawings, or the constructed building itself

                           Software-related works: Computer software, software documentation and manuals, training manuals, other manual

The copyright owner has the following exclusive rights, protected against infringement:

                           Reproduction right: Lets the owner make copies of a work

                           Modification right: Also known as the derivative-works right, concerns modi- fying a work to create a new or derivative work

                           Distribution right: Lets the owner publicly sell, rent, lease, or lend copies of the work.

                           Public-performance rightApplies mainly to live    performances

                           Public-display right: Lets the owner publicly show a copy of the work directly or by means of a film, slide, or television image

PATENTS A patent for an invention is the grant of a property right to the inventor. The right conferred by the patent grant is, in the language of the U.S. statute and of the grant itself, “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the invention in the United States or “importing” the invention into the United States. Similar wording appears in the statutes of other nations. There are three types of patents:

                 Utility patents: May be granted to anyone who invents or discovers any new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture, or composition of matter, or any new and useful improvement thereof;

                 Design patents: May be granted to anyone who invents a new, original, and ornamental design for an article of manufacture; and

                 Plant patents: May be granted to anyone who invents or discovers and asexu- ally reproduces any distinct and new variety of plant.

An example of a patent from the computer security realm is the RSA public- key cryptosystem. From the time it was granted in 1983 until the patent expired in 2000, the patent holder, RSA Security, was entitled to receive a fee for each imple- mentation of RSA.

TRADEMARKS A trademark is a word, name, symbol, or device that is used in trade with goods to indicate the source of the goods and to distinguish them from the goods of others. A servicemark is the same as a trademark except that it identifies and distinguishes the source of a service rather than a product. The terms trademark and mark are commonly used to refer to both trademarks and servicemarks. Trademark rights may be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark, but not to prevent others from making the same goods or from selling the same goods or services under a clearly different mark.


Intellectual Property Relevant to Network and  Computer Security

A number of forms of intellectual property are relevant in the context of network and computer security. Here we mention some of the most prominent:

                 Software: This includes programs produced by vendors of commercial software (e.g., operating systems, utility programs, applications) as well as shareware, proprietary software created by an organization for internal use, and software produced by individuals. For all such software, copyright protection is available if desired. In some cases, a patent protection may also be appropriate.

                 Databases: A database may consist of data that is collected and organized  in such a fashion that it has potential commercial value. An example is an eco- nomic forecasting database. Such databases may be protected by copyright.

                 Digital content: This category includes audio files, video files, multimedia, courseware, Web site content, and any other original digital work that can be presented in some fashion using computers or other digital devices.

                 Algorithms: An example of a patentable algorithm, previously  cited, is  the RSA  public-key cryptosystem.


Digital Millennium Copyright Act

The U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) has had a profound effect on the protection of digital content rights in both the United States and worldwide. The DMCA, signed into law in 1998, is designed to implement World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) treaties, signed in 1996. In essence, DMCA strengthens the protection of copyrighted materials in digital format.

The DMCA encourages copyright owners to use technological measures to protect copyrighted works. These measures fall into two categories: measures that prevent access to the work and measures that prevent copying of the work. Further, the law prohibits attempts to bypass such measures. Specifically, the law states that “no person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.” Among other effects of this clause, it prohibits almost all unauthorized decryption of content. The law further prohibits the manu- facture, release, or sale of products, services, and devices that can crack encryption designed to thwart either access to or copying of material unauthorized by the copyright holder. Both criminal and civil penalties apply to attempts to circumvent technological measures and to assist in such circumvention.

Certain actions are exempted from the provisions of the DMCA and other copyright laws, including the following:

                          Fair use: This concept is not tightly defined. It is intended to permit others to perform, show, quote, copy, and otherwise distribute portions of the work for certain purposes. These purposes include review, comment, and discussion of copyrighted works.

                          Reverse engineering: Reverse engineering of a software product is allowed if the user has the right to use a copy of the program and if the purpose of the reverse engineering is not to duplicate the functionality of the program but rather to achieve interoperability.

                          Encryption research: “Good faith” encryption research is allowed. In essence, this exemption allows decryption attempts to advance the development of encryption technology.

                          Security testing: This is the access of a computer or network for the good faith testing, investigating, or correcting a security flaw or vulnerability, with the authorization of the owner or   operator.

                          Personal privacy: It is generally permitted to bypass technological measures if that is the only reasonable way to prevent the access to result in the revealing or recording of personally identifying information.

Despite the exemptions built into the Act, there is considerable concern, espe- cially in the research and academic communities, that the act inhibits legitimate secu- rity and encryption research. These parties feel that DMCA stifles innovation and academic freedom and is a threat to open source software development [ACM04].


Digital Rights Management

Digital Rights Management (DRM) refers to systems and procedures that ensure that holders of digital rights are clearly identified and receive the stipulated pay- ment for their works. The systems and procedures may also impose further restric- tions on the use of digital objects, such as inhibiting printing or prohibiting further distribution.


There is no single DRM standard or architecture. DRM encompasses a variety of approaches to intellectual property management and enforcement by providing secure and trusted automated services to control the distribution and use of content. In general, the objective is to provide mechanisms for the complete content management life cycle (creation, subsequent contribution by others, access, distribution, use), includ- ing the management of rights information associated with the content.

DRM systems should meet the following objectives:


1.                        Provide persistent content protection against unauthorized access to the digital content, limiting access to only those with the proper authorization.

2.                        Support a variety of digital content types (e.g., music files, video streams, digital books, images).

3.                        Support content use on a variety of platforms, (e.g., PCs, PDAs, iPods, mobile phones).

4.                        Support content distribution on a variety of media, including CD-ROMs, DVDs, and flash memory.


Figure 23.3, based on [LIU03], illustrates a typical DRM model in terms of the principal users of DRM systems:

Content provider: Holds the digital rights of the content and wants to protect these rights. Examples are a music record label and a movie studio.

Distributor: Provides distribution channels, such as an online shop or a Web retailer. For example, an online distributor receives the digital content from

the content provider and creates a Web catalog presenting the content and rights metadata for the content promotion.

                          Consumer: Uses the system to access the digital content by retrieving down- loadable or streaming content through the distribution channel and then pay- ing for the digital license. The player/viewer application used by the consumer takes charge of initiating license request to the clearinghouse and enforcing the content usage rights.

                          Clearinghouse: Handles the financial transaction for issuing the digital license to the consumer and pays royalty fees to the content provider and distribution fees to the distributor accordingly. The clearinghouse is also responsible for logging license consumptions for every consumer.

In this model, the distributor need not enforce the access rights. Instead, the content provider protects the content in such a way (typically encryption) that the consumer must purchase a digital license and access capability from the clearing- house. The clearinghouse consults usage rules provided by the content provider to determine what access is permitted and the fee for a particular type of access. Having collected the fee, the clearinghouse credits the content provider and distrib- utor appropriately.

Figure 23.4, from [IANN06], shows a generic system architecture to support DRM functionality. The system is access by parties in three roles. Rights holders are the content providers, who either created the content or have acquired rights to the content. Service providers include distributors and clearinghouses. Consumers   are

those who purchase the right to access to content for specific uses. There is system interface to the services provided by the DRM system:

                          Identity management: Mechanisms to uniquely identify entities, such as parties and content

                          Content management: Processes and functions needed to manage the content lifestyle

                          Rights management: Processes and functions needed to manage rights, rights holders, and associated requirements

Below these management modules are a set of common functions. The security/encryption module provides functions to encrypt content and to sign license agreements. The identity management service makes use of the authentication and authorization functions to identify all parties in the relationship. Using these functions, the identity management service includes the following:

                          Allocation of unique party identifiers

                          User profile and preferences

                          User’s device management

                          Public-key management

Billing/payments functions deal with the collection of usage fees from con- sumers and the distribution of payments to rights holders and distributors. Delivery functions deal with the delivery of content to consumers.


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