on 20 March 2002
This is a book that a whole industry has been waiting to see and Rosenblatt, Trippe and Mooney have prepared a seemingly comprehensive cover of this strategically important and currently under-regarded field. Covering everything from Origins to Opportunities, standards, business models and technology a book of this type should provide a one stop reference to anyone whose business pivots on the dissemination of intellectual property over networks, be it text, music, video or software.
However closer reading leaves the uneasy feeling that one has when one finds that parts of the material that one is familiar with are inaccurate or incompletely research, casting doubts on the chapters which one is not equipped to judge.
The authors tread on thin ice in their discussion of encryption and through poor understanding to the relative strengths of cryptographic systems present cryptographic systems as a rather more level playing field than is actually the case. In particular they seriously underestimate the algorithmic strength of the longer key-length versions of the US Advanced Encryption Standard and overplay the chances that open systems of this sort - ones that have been studied publicly for several years by the world leading cryptographers - will have secret trapdoors known only to governments and overlooked by cryptographers. Even their peculiar interpretation of the US Advanced Encryption Standard's original name, Rijndael, suggest that they have nor studied the literature first hand. On the other hand Kerckhoff's axiom seems to be unknown to them and they do not focus on the serious technical problems of protecting digital content once the keys have been made available to unlock the content.
Watermarks within encrypted files have been in use since 1999 in systems such as Perimele's bespoke systems and DITSS information security products. Rendering and decryption applications which do not need a stand alone application or plug-in are indeed a holy grail for the reasons that the authors have outlined and as the authors indicate do change the very nature to the business case - but far from being impossible at present these have been in widespread use since 1997 in a range of products in the Pay2See family of solutions.
There is still excellent material on Technology standards although the authors do not seem to be aware of the demise of XMCL and rise of MPEG-21. All in all a good read and well worth skimming if you are in the business but certainly not enough reliable information to make informed decision from and by no means the definitive guide that it purports to be.... By Mark Baker.