Joseph M. Reagle Jr.,
INTERNET-DRAFT                          MIT
<draft-reagle-pics-copyright-00.txt>    December 1996 (Expires July 1997)

            Using PICS for Copyright Notice and Control

Status of this Memo

    This document is an Internet-Draft.  Internet-Drafts are
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    This document presents an alternative expression mechanism
    for the copyright status of Web resources. Specifically it
    employs the Platform for Internet Content Selection (PICS)
    [2] label format to associate web resources with their
    copyright and usage information. This in turn can be used by
    search engines, proxy servers, agents, clients, and users for
    content selection or to aid in rights compliance. This
    document employs the copy control system described in [1].

1. Introduction

    Intellectual property on the Internet has been a contentious
    topic for a number of reasons. These include (1) does the
    nature of the technology require us to change the legal
    status of copyright as it stands now, (2) what rights should
    be associated with Web content, (3) how to express the
    rights, and (4) should the expression of the rights be used
    for notification, enforcement, or payment negotiation? This
    draft only addresses the expression of rights and uses the
    copy control method/rights found in [1]. We argue that PICS
    is an effective method of communicating intellectual property
    information about Web content.

2.1 Copyright Status and Control

    How intellectual property rights should be expressed is
    affected by the following questions. Are the rights human
    readable, machine readable? Are the rights easily encoded,
    efficiently encoded? Does this encoding change across
    multiple media (ASCII, images, audio, video, etc.) where size
    and speed considerations may be of importance? In this draft
    we do not address these issues in detail, rather we use the
    copy control system specified in [1] and use PICS to
    associate the copy control information with Web content.

    In [1], Daviel specified a system in which a Web document has
    "Print", "Save", and "Quote" variables associated with it,
    where ({0 = disallowed}, {1 = conditionally allowed}, {2 =
    unconditionally allowed}). These permissions are associated
    with a document by encoding them in an HTTP header, or HTML
    META tag. PICS is a more effective means of associating Web
    resources with their copyright status and control information
    as demonstrated in section 2.3.

2.2 PICS Expression of Copyright Status and Control

    Consider the case in which Mark Twain wrote the material at . He also has a page
    describing the copyright statement in fuller detail at . He uses the copy
    control system in [1] to create the following label:

       (PICS-1.1 ""
         by "Mark Twain"
         labels on "1994.11.05T08:15-0500"
                for ""
                full ""
                ratings (print 1 save 1 quote 2))

2.3 Benefits of Using PICS labels for Copyright Status and

    The benefits of using PICS labels for copyright status and
    control include:

    1. Detached labels can easily associate copyright information
       with any web referenceable resource including audio and visual
    2. Multiple distribution methods (embedded within the document,
       transported by the server, or distributed from a label bureau)
       improve copy status and control management. Organizations can
       control the use and access to their IPR from their server or
       proxy. Organizations can also create "audit" spiders to
       understand the distribution and use of their content on the
    3. Generic labeling (implicitly rates every URL for which the
       specified URL is the prefix of) improves the management of the
       copyright information, since one doesn't have to label every
       document in a directory if the tree has a homogenous copyright
    4. Capabilities for digital signatures are provided in the PICS
    5. PICS is being widely used in other domains.

3.  Security Considerations

    This document does not address the integrity of intellectual
    property assertions, cases of unauthorized disclosure, nor
    enforcement mechanisms. However, PICS labels can provide the
    basic information that the advanced functionality operate

Author's Address

    Joseph M. Reagle Jr.
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Laboratory for Computer Science
    W3C, NE43-350
    545 Technology Square
    Cambridge, MA 02139

    Telephone: + 1.617.258.7621
    Fax: + 1.617.258.5999


    [1] A. Daviel, "Copy Control for Web Documents.", Vancouver
    Webpages, INTERNET DRAFT, <draft-daviel-web-copy-control-
    00.txt>, November 1996.
    [2] PICS, "Label Syntax and Communication Protocols",
    INTERNET DRAFT, "draft-pics-labels-00.txt", 11/21/95.

Joseph Reagle Jr.  Personal:
Policy Analyst     World Wide Web Consortium: