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IEEE P1817 Standard for
Consumer-ownable Digital Personal Property

Consumer Misconception Number One

The single most often misunderstood aspect of P1817 is its absence of usage and sharing restrictions. People hear "digital personal property" and think, "What's that?" They hear "movies, music, books, and games" and think, "DRM", by which they mean "digital rights management" or "digital restrictions management". They hear "no restrictions", but they assume that it must really mean "weak restrictions". Nevertheless, it is true &mdash P1817 applies no restriction on usage or sharing.

Security for Singularness

The security mechanisms of P1817, including the use of encrypted data and cryptographic keys, preserve the singularness of each product item delivered to a consumer, but do not restrict its usage. That singularness is embodied in the uncloneable, but easily moved digital receipt.

Printed Books Don't Police

The singularness of a printed book is inherent in its physical nature. That nature also poses modest, but reasonably effective, impediments to the basic acts of copyright infringement &mdash counterfeiting and stranger sharing. Counterfeiting is the replication of a book so as to appear like an original, usually done for profit. Stranger sharing is the public redistribution of the book's content &mdash a right legally reserved for the copyright holder. There is no policing mechanism built into the book to detect or block any act that its possessor might commit, even though that act might infringe copyright.

P1817 emulates the singularness that naturally occurs with a printed book, and that singularness offers significant impediments to basic acts of copyright infringement. Also like a book, it doesn't police consumer behavior or disclose consumer behavior to a policing authority.

Printed Books Don't Judge

A printed book doesn't know who owns it. It doesn't refuse to be read, regardless of who opens it and peruses its pages. Not only does a book preserve no tethers to authors, publishers, manufacturers, or vendors that could either monitor or limit a reader's behavior, but the book has no tethers to the reader either. All issues of book ownership and usage are evaluated, managed, and resolved by human actions and judgements. We may write our names inside the front cover to preserve our claims of ownership, but the book doesn't read the name and take any action based upon it; we humans do.

Under P1817, the same is true for every digital personal property. A product item doesn't know who owns it or who shares it; it simply makes itself useful to any player device with whom a person has shared its encrypted data and the URL of its digital receipt. The ecosystem of P1817 doesn't track who owns the item either, nor who shares it, nor even who has owned or shared it in the past.

Simple and Non-judgemental

Imagine how complicated it would be to build an electronic system that could interpret copyright laws, jurisdictional boundaries, end-user license agreements, and the variety of possible human behaviors, and then restrict people's behavior so as to violate neither content-owner rights nor consumer rights, and without offending either side. It's not only really hard, it's completely impossible. Wherever human and legal judgements are involved, full automation is inappropriate.

Now imagine how much simpler the system would be if it didn't need to impose restrictions, but rather depended on the natural social consequences of our product usage to preserve a balance between the rights of suppliers and consumers. P1817 depends on social consequences instead of usage and sharing restrictions.

How simple!

Copyright ©2011 IEEE-SA
(Modified: 25 February 2011)