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SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR SECURE TRANSACTION 
MANAGEMENT AND ELECTRONIC RIGHTS PROTECTION 


This invention generally relates to computer and/or 
electronic security. 

More particularly, this invention relates to systems and 
techniques for secure transaction management. This invention 
also relates to computer-based and other electronic appliance- 
based technologies that help to ensure that information is accessed 
and/or otherwise used only in authorized ways, and maintains the 
integrity, availability, and/or confidentiality of such information 
and processes related to such use. 

The invention also relates to systems and methods for 
protecting rights of various participants in electronic commerce 
and other electronic or electronically-facilitated transactions. 

The invention also relates to secure chains of handling and 
control for both information content and information employed to 
regulate the use of such content and consequences of such use. It 
also relates to systems and techniques that manage, including 
meter and/or limit and/or otherwise monitor use of electronically 
stored and/or disseminated information. The invention 
particularly relates to transactions, conduct and arrangements 
that make use of, including consequences of use of, such systems 
and/or techniques. 


Field(e) of the Invention^) 


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* • 

The invention also relates to distributed and other operating 
systems, environments and architectures. It also generally relates 
to secure architectures, including, for example, tamper-resistant 
hardware-based processors, that can be used to establish security 
at each node of a distributed system. 

Background and Summary of the Inventions) 

Telecommunications, financial transactions, government 
processes, business operations, entertainment, and personal 
business productivity all now depend on electronic appliances. 
Millions of these electronic appliances have been electronically 
connected together. These interconnected electronic appliances 
comprise what is increasingly called the -information highway." 
Many businesses, academicians, and government leaders are 
concerned about how to protect the rights of citizens and 
organizations who use this information (also "electronic" or 
"digital") highway. 

Electronic Content 

Today, virtually anything that can be represented by words, 
numbers, graphics, or system of commands and instructions can be 
formatted into electronic digital information. Television, cable, 
satellite transmissions, and on-line services transmitted over 
telephone lines, compete to distribute digital information and 
entertainment to homes and businesses. The owners and 
marketers of this content include software developers, motion 
picture and recording companies, publishers of books, magazines, 
and newspapers, and information database providers. The 
popularization of on-line services has also enabled the individual 
personal computer user to participate as a content provider. It is 


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estimated that the worldwide market for electronic information in 
1992 was approximately $40 billion and is expected to grow to 
$200 billion by 1997, according to Microsoft Corporation. The 
present invention can materially enhance the revenue of content 
5 providers, lower the distribution costs and the costs for content, 

better support advertising and usage information gathering, and 
better satisfy the needs of electronic information users. These 
improvements can lead to a significant increase in the amount and 
variety of electronic information and the methods by which such 
10 information is distributed. 


The inability of conventional products to be shaped to the 
needs of electronic information providers and users is sharply in 
contrast to the present invention. Despite the attention devoted 

15 by a cross-section of America's largest telecommunications, 

computer, entertainment and information provider companies to 
some of the problems addressed by the present invention, only the 
present invention provides commercially secure, effective solutions 
for configurable, general purpose electronic commerce 

20 transaction/distribution control systems. 


Controlling Electronic Content 

The present invention provides a new kind of w virtual 
distribution environments (called *VDE" in this document) that 

25 secures, administers, and audits electronic information use. VDE 

also features fundamentally important capabilities for managing 
content that travels "across" the "information highway These 
capabilities comprise a rights protection solution that serves all 
electronic community members. These members include content 

30 creators and distributors, financial service providers, end-users, 


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and others. VDE is the first general purpose, configurable, 
transaction control/rights protection solution for users of 
computers, other electronic appliances, networks, and the 
information highway. 

A fundamental problem for electronic content providers is 
extending their ability to control the use of proprietary 
information. Content providers often need to limit use to 
authorized activities and amounts. Participants in a business 
model involving, for example, provision of movies and advertising 
on optical discs may include actors, directors, script and other 
writers, musicians, studios, publishers, distributors, retailers, 
advertisers/credit card services, and content end-users. These 
participants need the ability to embody their range of agreements 
and requirements, including use limitations, into an "extended" 
agreement comprising an overall electronic business model. This 
extended agreement is represented by electronic content control 
information that can automatically enforce agreed upon rights and 
obligations. Under VDE, such an extended agreement may 
comprise an electronic contract involving all business model 
participants. Such an agreement may alternatively, or in addition, 
be made up of electronic agreements between subsets of the 
business model participants. Through the use of VDE, electronic 
commerce can function in the same way as traditional 
commerce— that is commercial relationships regarding products 
and services can be shaped through the negotiation of one or more 
agreements between a variety of parties. 

Commercial content providers are concerned with ensuring 
proper compensation for the use of their electronic information. 


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Electronic digital information, for example a CD recording, can 
today be copied relatively easily and inexpensively. Similarly, 
unauthorized copying and use of software programs deprives 
rightful owners of billions of dollars in annual revenue according 
5 to the International Intellectual Property Alliance. Content 

providers and distributors have devised a number of limited 
function rights protection mechanisms to protect their rights. 
Authorization passwords and protocols, license servers, 
"lock/unlock" distribution methods, and non-electronic contractual 
10 limitations imposed on users of shrink-wrapped software are a few 

of the more prevalent content protection schemes. In a commercial 
context, these efforts are inefficient and limited solutions. 

Providers of "electronic currency" have also created 
15 protections for their type of content. These systems are not 

sufficiently adaptable, efficient, nor flexible enough to support the 
generalized use of electronic currency. Furthermore, they do not 
provide sophisticated auditing and control configuration 
capabilities. This means that current electronic currency tools 
20 lack the sophistication needed for many real-world financial 

business models. VDE provides means for anonymous currency 
and for "conditionally" anonymous currency, wherein currency 
related activities remain anonymous except under special 
circumstances. 

25 

VDE Control Capabilities 

VDE allows the owners and distributors of electronic digital 
information to reliably bill for, and securely control, audit, and 
30 budget the use of, electronic information. It can reliably detect 


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and monitor the use of commercial information products. VDE 
uses a wide variety of different electronic information delivery 
means: including, for example, digital networks, digital broadcast, 
and physical storage media such as optical and magnetic disks. 
5 VDE can be used by major network providers, hardware 

manufacturers, owners of electronic information, providers of such 
information, and clearinghouses that gather usage information 
regarding, and bill for the use of, electronic information. 

10 VDE provides comprehensive and configurable transaction 

management, metering and monitoring technology. It can change 
how electronic information products are protected, marketed, 
packaged, and distributed. When used, VDE should result in 
higher revenues for information providers and greater user 

15 satisfaction and value. Use of VDE will normally result in lower 

usage costs, decreased transaction costs, more efficient access to 
electronic information, re-usability of rights protection and other 
transaction management implementations, greatly improved 
flexibility in the use of secured information, and greater 

20 standardization of tools and processes for electronic transaction 

management. VDE can be used to create an adaptable 
environment that fulfills the needs of electronic information 
owners, distributors, and users; financial clearinghouses; and 
usage information analyzers and resellers. 

25 

Rights and Control Information 

In general, the present invention can be used to protect the 
rights of parties who have: 


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(a) proprietary or confidentiality interests in electronic 
information. It can, for example, help ensure that 
information is used only in authorized ways; 


5 (b) financial interests resulting from the use of 

electronically distributed information. It can help 
ensure that content providers will be paid for use of 
distributed information; and 


10 (c) interests in electronic credit and electronic currency 

storage, communication, and/or use including 
electronic cash, banking, and purchasing. 


Protecting the rights of electronic community members 
15 involves a broad range of technologies. VDE combines these 

technologies in a way that creates a "distributed" electronic rights 
protection "environment." This environment secures and protects 
transactions and other processes important for rights protection. 
VDE, for example, provides the ability to prevent, or impede, 
20 interference with and/or observation of, important rights related 

transactions and processes. VDE, in its preferred embodiment, 
uses special purpose tamper resistant Secure Processing Units 
(SPUs) to help provide a high level of security for VDE processes 
and information storage and communication. 

25 

The rights protection problems solved by the present 
invention are electronic versions of basic societal issues. These 
issues include protecting property rights, protecting privacy rights, 
properly compensating people and organizations for their work and 
30 risk, protecting money and credit, and generally protecting the 


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security of information. VDE employs a system that uses a 
common set of processes to manage rights issues in an efficient, 
trusted, and cost-effective way. 

5 VDE can be used to protect the rights of parties who create 

electronic content such as, for example: records, games, movies, 
newspapers, electronic books and reference materials, personal 
electronic mail, and confidential records and communications. The 
invention can also be used to protect the rights of parties who 

10 provide electronic products, such as publishers and distributors; 

the rights of parties who provide electronic credit and currency to 
pay for use of products, for example, credit clearinghouses and 
banks; the rights to privacy of parties who use electronic content 
(such as consumers, business people, governments); and the 

15 privacy rights of parties described by electronic information, such 

as privacy rights related to information contained in a medical 
record, tax record, or personnel record. 

In general, the present invention can protect the rights of 

20 parties who have: 

(a) commercial interests in electronically distributed 
information - the present invention can help ensure, 
for example, that parties, will be paid for use of 
distributed information in a manner consistent with 

25 their agreement; 

(b) proprietary and/or confidentiality interests in 
electronic information - the present invention can, for 
example, help ensure that data is used only in 

30 authorized ways; 


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(c) interests in electronic credit and electronic currency 
storage, communication, and/or use -- this can include 
electronic cash, banking, and purchasing; and 

(d) interests in electronic information derived, at least in 
part, from use of other electronic information. 

VDE Functional Properties 

VDE is a cost-effective and efficient rights protection 
solution that provides a unified, consistent system for securing and 
managing transaction processing. VDE can: 

(a) audit and analyze the use of content, 

(b) ensure that content is used only in authorized ways, 
and 

(c) allow information regarding content usage to be used 
only in ways approved by content users. 

In addition, VDE: 

(a) is very configurable, modifiable, and re-usable; 

(b) supports a wide range of useful capabilities that may 
be combined in different ways to accommodate most 
potential applications; 


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(c) operates on a wide variety of electronic appliances 
ranging from hand-held inexpensive devices to large 
mainframe computers; 

(d) is able to ensure the various rights of a number of 
different parties, and a number of different rights 
protection schemes, simultaneously; 

(e) is able to preserve the rights of parties through a 
series of transactions that may occur at different times 
and different locations; 

(f) is able to flexibly accommodate different ways of 
securely delivering information and reporting usage; 
and 

(g) provides for electronic analogues to "real" money and 
credit, including anonymous electronic cash, to pay for 
products and services and to support personal 
(including home) banking and other financial 
activities. 

VDE economically and efficiently fulfills the rights 
protection needs of electronic community members. Users of VDE 
will not require additional rights protection systems for different 
information highway products and rights problems-nor will they 
be required to install and learn a new system for each new 
information highway application. 


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VDE provides a unified solution that allows all content 
creators, providers, and users to employ the same electronic rights 
protection solution. Under authorized circumstances, the 
participants can freely exchange content and associated content 
control sets. This means that a user of VDE may, if allowed, use 
the same electronic system to work with different kinds of content 
having different sets of content control information. The content 
and control information supplied by one group can be used by 
people who normally use content and control information supplied 
by a different group. VDE can allow content to be exchanged 
"universally* and users of an implementation of the present 
invention can interact electronically without fear of 
incompatibilities in content control, violation of rights, or the need 
to get, install, or learn a new content control system. 

The VDE securely administers transactions that specify 
protection of rights. It can protect electronic rights including, for 
example: 

(a) the property rights of authors of electronic content, 

(b) the commercial rights of distributors of content, 

(c) the rights of any parties who facilitated the 
distribution of content, 

(d) the privacy rights of users of content, 

(e) the privacy rights of parties portrayed by stored 
and/or distributed content, and 


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(f) any other rights regarding enforcement of electronic 
agreements. 

VDE can enable a very broad variety of electronically enforced 
commercial and societal agreements. These agreements can 
include electronically implemented contracts, licenses, laws, 
regulations, and tax collection. 

Contrast With Traditional Solutions 

Traditional content control mechanisms often require users 
to purchase more electronic information than the user needs or 
desires. For example, infrequent users of shrink-wrapped software 
are required to purchase a program at the same price as frequent 
users, even though they may receive much less value from their 
less frequent use. Traditional systems do not scale cost according 
to the extent or character of usage and traditional systems can not 
attract potential customers who find that a fixed price is too high. 
Systems using traditional mechanisms are also not normally 
particularly secure. For example, shrink-wrapping does not 
prevent the constant illegal pirating of software once removed 
from either its physical or electronic package. 

Traditional electronic information rights protection systems 
are often inflexible and inefficient and may cause a content 
provider to choose costly distribution channels that increase a 
product's price. In general these mechanisms restrict product 
pricing, configuration, and marketing flexibility. These 
compromises are the result of techniques for controlling 
information which cannot accommodate both different content 
models and content models which reflect the many, varied 


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requirements, such as content delivery strategies, of the model 
participants. This can limit a provider's ability to deliver 
sufficient overall value to justify a given product's cost in the eyes 
of many potential users. VDE allows content providers and 
5 distributors to create applications and distribution networks that 

reflect content providers* and users' preferred business models. It 
offers users a uniquely cost effective and feature rich system that 
supports the ways providers want to distribute information and 
the ways users want to use such information. VDE supports 
10 content control models that ensure rights and allow content 

delivery strategies to be shaped for maximum commercial results. 

Chain of Handling and Control 

VDE can protect a collection of rights belonging to various 
15 parties having in rights in, or to; electronic information. This 

information may be at one location or dispersed across (and/or 
moving between) multiple locations. The information may pass 
through a "chain" of distributors and a "chain* of users. Usage 
information may also be reported through one or more "chains" of 
20 parties. In general, VDE enables parties that (a) have rights in 

electronic information, and/or (b) act as direct or indirect agents 
for parties who have rights in electronic information, to ensure 
that the moving, accessing, modifying, or otherwise using of 
information can be securely controlled by rules regarding how, 
25 when, where, and by whom such activities can be performed. 

VDE Applications and Software 

VDE is a secure system for regulating electronic conduct and 
commerce. Regulation is ensured by control information put in 
30 place by one or more parties. These parties may include content 


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10 


providers, electronic hardware manufacturers, financial service 
providers, or electronic "infrastructure" companies such as cable or 
telecommunications companies. The control information 
implements "Rights Applications." Rights applications "run on" 
the "base software* of the preferred embodiment. This base 
software serves as a secure, flexible, general purpose foundation 
that can accommodate many different rights applications, that is, 
many different business models and their respective participant 
requirements. 


A rights application under VDE is made up of special 
purpose pieces, each of which can correspond to one or more basic 
electronic processes needed for a rights protection environment. 
These processes can be combined together like building blocks to 

15 create electronic agreements that can protect the rights, and may 

enforce fulfillment of the obligations, of electronic information 
users and providers. One or more providers of electronic 
information can easily combine selected building blocks to create a 
rights application that is unique to a specific content distribution 

20 model. A group of these pieces can represent the capabilities 

needed to fulfill the agreement(s) between users and providers. 
These pieces accommodate many requirements of electronic 
commerce including: 

25 • the distribution of permissions to use electronic 

information; 

• the persistence of the control information and sets of 
control information managing these permissions; 

30 


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• configurable control set information that can be 
selected by users for use with such information; 

• data security and usage auditing of electronic 
5 information; and 

• a secure system for currency, compensation and debit 
management. 


10 For electronic commerce, a rights application, under the 

preferred embodiment of the present invention, can provide 
electronic enforcement of the business agreements between all 
participants. Since different groups of components can be put 
together for different applications, the present invention can 

15 provide electronic control information for a wide variety of 

different products and markets. This means the present invention 
can provide a "unified," efficient, secure, and cost-effective system 
for electronic commerce and data security. This allows VDE to 
serve as a single standard for electronic rights protection, data 

20 security, and electronic currency and banking. 


In a VDE, the separation between a rights application and 
its foundation permits the efficient selection of sets of control 
information that are appropriate for each of many different types 

25 of applications and uses. These control sets can reflect both rights 

of electronic community members, as well as obligations (such as 
providing a history of one's use of a product or paying taxes on 
one's electronic purchases). VDE flexibility allows its users to 
electronically implement and enforce common social and 

30 commercial ethics and practices. By providing a unified control 


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system, the present invention supports a vast range of possible 
transaction related interests and concerns of individuals, 
communities, businesses, and governments. Due to its open 
design, VDE allows (normally under securely controlled 
circumstances) applications using technology independently 
created by users to be "added" to the system and used in 
conjunction with the foundation of the invention. In sum, VDE 
provides a system that can fairly reflect and enforce agreements 
among parties. It is a broad ranging and systematic solution that 
answers the pressing need for a secure, cost-effective, and fair 
electronic environment. 


VDE Implementation 

The preferred embodiment of the present invention includes 
various tools that enable system designers to directly insert VDE 
capabilities into their products. These tools include an Application 
Programmer's Interface ("API") and a Rights Permissioning and 
Management Language ("RPML"). The RPML provides 
comprehensive and detailed control over the use of the invention's 
features. VDE also includes certain user interface subsystems for 
satisfying the needs of content providers, distributors, and users. 

Information distributed using VDE may take many forms. 
It may, for example, be "distributed" for use on an individual's own 
computer, that is the present invention can be used to provide 
security for locally stored data. Alternatively, VDE may be used 
with information that is dispersed by authors and/or publishers to 
one or more recipients. This information may take many forms 
including: movies, audio recordings, games, electronic catalog 
shopping, multimedia, training materials, E-mail and personal 


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documents, object oriented libraries, software programming 
resources, and reference/record keeping information resources 
(such as business, medical, legal, scientific, governmental, and 
consumer databases). 

5 

Electronic rights protection provided by the present 
invention will also provide an important foundation for trusted 
and efficient home and commercial banking, electronic credit 
processes, electronic purchasing, true or conditionally anonymous 
10 electronic cash, and EDI (Electronic Data Interchange). VDE 

provides important enhancements for improving data security in 
organizations by providing "smart" transaction management 
features that can be far more effective than key and password 
based "go/ho go" technology. 

15 

VDE normally employs an integration of cryptographic and 
other security technologies (e.g. encryption, digital signatures, 
etc.), with other technologies including: component, distributed, 
and event driven operating system technology, and related 
20 communications, object container, database, smart agent, smart 

card, and semiconductor design technologies. 


I. Overview 

A. VDE Solves Important Problems and Fills 
25 Critical Needs 

The world is moving towards an integration of electronic 

information appliances. This interconnection of appliances 

provides a foundation for much greater electronic interaction and 

the evolution of electronic commerce. A variety of capabilities are 

30 required to implement an electronic commerce environment. VDE 

is the first system that provides many of these capabilities and 


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therefore solves fundamental problems related to electronic 
dissemination of information. 


Electronic Content 

VDE allows electronic arrangements to be created involving 
two or more parties. These agreements can themselves comprise a 
collection of agreements between participants in a commercial 
value chain and/or a data security chain model for handling, 
auditing, reporting, and payment. It can provide efficient, 
reusable, modifiable, and consistent means for secure electronic 
content: distribution, usage control, usage payment, usage 
auditing, and usage reporting. Content may, for example, include: 

financial information such as electronic currency and 
credit; 

commercially distributed electronic information such 
as reference databases, movies, games, and 
advertising; and 

electronic properties produced by persons and 
organizations, such as documents, e-mail, and 
proprietary database information. 

VDE enables an electronic commerce marketplace that supports 
differing, competitive business partnerships, agreements, and 
evolving overall business models. 

The features of VDE allow it to function as the first trusted 
electronic information control environment that can conform to, 


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and support, the bulk of conventional electronic commerce and 
data security requirements. In particular, VDE enables the 
participants in a business value chain model to create an 
electronic version of traditional business agreement terms and 
conditions and further enables these participants to shape and 
evolve their electronic commerce models as they believe 
appropriate to their business requirements. 

VDE offers an architecture that avoids reflecting specific 
distribution biases, administrative and control perspectives, and 
content types. Instead, VDE provides a broad-spectrum, 
fundamentally configurable and portable, electronic transaction 
control, distributing, usage, auditing, reporting, and payment 
operating environment. VDE is not limited to being an application 
or application specific toolset that covers only a limited subset of 
electronic interaction activities and participants. Rather, VDE 
supports systems by which such applications can be created, 
modified, and/or reused. As a result, the present invention 
answers pressing, unsolved needs by offering a system that 
supports a standardized control environment which facilitates 
interoperability of electronic appliances, interoperability of 
content containers, and efficient creation of electronic commerce 
applications and models through the use of a programmable, 
secure electronic transactions management foundation and 
reusable and extensible executable components. VDE can support 
a single electronic "world" within which most forms of electronic 
transaction activities can be managed. 

To answer the developing needs of rights owners and 
content providers and to provide a system that can accommodate 


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the requirements and agreements of all parties that may be 
involved in electronic business models (creators, distributors, 
administrators, users, credit providers, etc.), VDE supplies an 
efficient, largely transparent, low cost and sufficiently secure 
system (supporting both hardware/ software and software only 
models). VDE provides the widely varying secure control and 
administration capabilities required for: 

1. Different types of electronic content, 

2. Differing electronic content delivery schemes, 

3. Differing electronic content usage schemes, 

4. Different content usage platforms, and 

5. Differing content marketing and model strategies. 

VDE may be combined with, or integrated into, many 
separate computers and/or other electronic appliances. These 
appliances typically include a secure subsystem that can enable 
control of content use such as displaying, encrypting, decrypting, 
printing, copying, saving, extracting, embedding, distributing, 
auditing usage, etc. The secure subsystem in the preferred 
embodiment comprises one or more "protected processing 
environments", one or more secure databases, and secure 
"component assemblies" and other items and processes that need 
to be kept secured. VDE can, for example, securely control 
electronic currency, payments, and/or credit management 


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(including electronic credit and/or currency receipt, disbursement, 
encumbering, and/or allocation) using such a "secure subsystem/' 

VDE provides a secure, distributed electronic transaction 
management system for controlling the distribution and/or other 
usage of electronically provided and/or stored information. VDE 
controls auditing and reporting of electronic content and/or 
appliance usage. Users of VDE may include content creators who 
apply content usage, usage reporting, and/or usage payment 
related control information to electronic content and/or appliances 
for users such as end-user organizations, individuals, and content 
and/or appliance distributors. VDE also securely supports the 
payment of money owed (including money owed for content and/or 
appliance usage) by one or more parties to one or more other 
parties, in the form of electronic credit and/or currency. 

Electronic appliances under control of VDE represent VDE 
'nodes* that securely process and control; distributed electronic 
information and/or appliance usage, control information 
formulation, and related transactions. VDE can securely manage 
the integration of control information provided by two or more 
parties. As a result, VDE can construct an electronic agreement 
between VDE participants that represent a "negotiation" between, 
the control requirements of, two or more parties and enacts terms 
and conditions of a resulting agreement. VDE ensures the rights 
of each party to an electronic agreement regarding a wide range of 
electronic activities related to electronic information and/or 
appliance usage. 


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Through use of VDE's control system, traditional content 
providers and users can create electronic relationships that reflect 
traditional, non-electronic relationships. They can shape and 
modify commercial relationships to accommodate the evolving 
needs of, and agreements among, themselves. VDE does not 
require electronic content providers and users to modify their 
business practices and personal preferences to conform to a 
metering and control application program that supports limited, 
largely fixed functionality. Furthermore, VDE permits 
participants to develop business models not feasible with non- 
electronic commerce, for example, involving detailed reporting of 
content usage information, large numbers of distinct transactions 
at hitherto infeasibly low price points, "pass-along" control 
information that is enforced without involvement or advance 
knowledge of the participants, etc. 

The present invention allows content providers and users to 
formulate their transaction environment to accommodate: 

(1) desired content models, content control models, and 
content usage information pathways, 


(2) a complete range of electronic media and distribution 
means, 

(3) a broad range of pricing, payment, and auditing 
strategies, 

(4) very flexible privacy and/or reporting models, 


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(5) practical and effective security architectures, and 

(6) other administrative procedures that together with 
steps (1) through (5) can enable most a real world" 

5 electronic commerce and data security models, 

including models unique to the electronic world. 

VDE's transaction management capabilities can enforce: 

10 (1) privacy rights of users related to information 

regarding their usage of electronic information and/or 
appliances, 

(2) societal policy such as laws that protect rights of 

15 content users or require the collection of taxes derived 

from electronic transaction revenue, and 

(3) the proprietary and/or other rights of parties related 
to ownership of, distribution of, and/or other 

20 commercial rights related to, electronic information. 

VDE can support "real" commerce in an electronic form, that 
is the progressive creation of commercial relationships that form, 
over time, a network of interrelated agreements representing a 

25 value chain business model. This is achieved in part by enabling 

content control information to develop through the interaction of 
(negotiation between) securely created and independently 
submitted sets of content and/or appliance control information. 
Different sets of content and/or appliance control information can 

30 be submitted by different parties in an electronic business value 


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chain enabled by the present invention. These parties create 
control information sets through the use of their respective VDE 
installations. Independently, securely deliverable, component 
based control information allows efficient interaction among 
control information sets supplied by different parties. 

VDE permits multiple, separate electronic arrangements to 
be formed between subsets of parties in a VDE supported 
electronic value chain model. These multiple agreements together 
comprise a VDE value chain "extended" agreement. VDE allows 
such constituent electronic agreements, and therefore overall VDE 
extended agreements, to evolve and reshape over time as 
additional VDE participants become involved in VDE content 
and/or appliance control information handling. VDE electronic 
agreements may also be extended as new control information is 
submitted by existing participants. With VDE, electronic 
commerce participants are free to structure and restructure their 
electronic commerce business activities and relationships. As a 
result, the present invention allows a competitive electronic 
commerce marketplace to develop since the use of VDE enables 
different, widely varying business models using the same or 
shared content. 

A significant facet of the present invention's ability to 
broadly support electronic commerce is its ability to securely 
manage independently delivered VDE component objects 
containing control information (normally in the form of VDE 
objects containing one or more methods, data, or load module VDE 
components). This independently delivered control information 
can be integrated with senior and other pre-existing content 


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control information to securely form derived control information 
using the negotiation mechanisms of the present invention. All 
requirements specified by this derived control information must be 
satisfied before VDE controlled content can be accessed or 
5 otherwise used. This means that, for example, all load modules 

and any mediating data which are listed by the derived control 
information as required must be available and securely perform 
their required function. In combination with other aspects of the 
present invention, securely, independently delivered control 

10 components allow electronic commerce participants to freely 

stipulate their business requirements and trade offs. As a result, 
much as with traditional, non-electronic commerce, the present 
invention allows electronic commerce (through a progressive 
stipulation of various control requirements by VDE participants) to 

15 evolve into forms of business that are the most efficient, 

competitive and useful. 

VDE provides capabilities that rationalize the support of 
electronic commerce and electronic transaction management. This 

20 rationalization stems from the reusability of control structures and 

user interfaces for a wide variety of transaction management 
related activities. As a result, content usage control, data security, 
information auditing, and electronic financial activities, can be 
supported with tools that are reusable, convenient, consistent, and 

25 familiar. In addition, a rational approach — a 

transaction/distribution control standard — allows all participants 
in VDE the same foundation set of hardware control and security, 
authoring, administration, and management tools to support 
widely varying types of information, business market model, 

30 and/or personal objectives. 


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Employing VDE as a general purpose electronic 
transaction/distribution control system allows users to maintain a 
single transaction management control arrangement on each of 
their computers, networks, communication nodes, and/or other 
electronic appliances. Such a general purpose system can serve 
the needs of many electronic transaction management applications 
without requiring distinct, different installations for different 
purposes. As a result, users of VDE can avoid the confusion and 
expense and other inefficiencies of different, limited purpose 
transaction control applications for each different content and/or 
business model. For example, VDE allows content creators to use 
the same VDE foundation control arrangement for both content 
authoring and for licensing content from other content creators for 
inclusion into their products or for other use. Clearinghouses, 
distributors, content creators, and other VDE users can all 
interact, both with the applications running on their VDE 
installations, and with each other, in an entirely consistent 
manner, using and reusing (largely transparently) the same 
distributed tools, mechanisms, and consistent user interfaces, 
regardless of the type of VDE activity. 

VDE prevents many forms of unauthorized use of electronic 
information, by controlling and auditing (and other administration 
of use) electronically stored and/or disseminated information. This 
includes, for example, commercially distributed content, electronic 
currency, electronic credit, business transactions (such as EDI), 
confidential communications, and the like. VDE can further be 
used to enable commercially provided electronic content to be 
made available to users in user defined portions, rather than 
constraining the user to use portions of content that were 


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5 


"predetermined" by a content creator and/or other provider for 
billing purposes. 

VDE, for example, can employ: 

(1) Secure metering means for budgeting and/or auditing 
electronic content and/or appliance usage; 

(2) Secure flexible means for enabling compensation 

10 and/or billing rates for content and/or appliance usage, 

including electronic credit and/or currency 
mechanisms for payment means; 

(3) Secure distributed database means for storing control 
15 and usage related information (and employing 

validated compartmentalization and tagging schemes); 

(4) Secure electronic appliance control means; 

20 (5) A distributed, secure, "virtual black box" comprised of 

nodes located at every user (including VDE content 
container creators, other content providers, client 
users, and recipients of secure VDE content usage 
information) site. The nodes of said virtual black box 

25 normally include a secure subsystem having at least 

one secure hardware element (a semiconductor 
element or other hardware module for securely 
executing VDE control processes), said secure 
subsystems being distributed at nodes along a 

30 pathway of information storage, distribution, payment, 


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usage, and/or auditing. In some embodiments, the 
functions of said hardware element, for certain or all 
nodes, may be performed by software, for example, in 
host processing environments of electronic appliances; 

(6) Encryption and decryption means; 

(7) Secure communications means employing 
authentication, digital signaturing, and encrypted 
transmissions. The secure subsystems at said user 
nodes utilize a protocol that establishes and 
authenticates each node's and/or participant's identity, 
and establishes one or more secure host-to-host 
encryption keys for communications between the 
secure subsystems; and 

(8) Secure control means that can allow each VDE 
installation to perform VDE content authoring 
(placing content into VDE containers with associated 
control information), content distribution, and content 
usage; as well as clearinghouse and other 
administrative and analysis activities employing 
content usage information. 

VDE may be used to migrate most non-electronic, traditional 
information delivery models (including entertainment, reference 
materials, catalog shopping, etc.) into an adequately secure digital 
distribution and usage management and payment context. The 
distribution and financial pathways managed by a VDE 
arrangement may include: 


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10 


content creators), 
distributors), 
redistributor(s), 
client administrators), 
client user(s), 

financial and/or other clearinghouse^ ), 
and/or government agencies. 


These distribution and financial pathways may also include: 


• advertisers, 

• market survey organizations, and/or 

• other parties interested in the user usage of 
information securely delivered and/or stored using 

15 VDE. 

Normally, participants in a VDE arrangement will employ the 
same secure VDE foundation. Alternate embodiments support 
VDE arrangements employing differing VDE foundations. Such 
20 alternate embodiments may employ procedures to ensure certain 

interoperability requirements are met. 

Secure VDE hardware (also known as SPUs for Secure 
Processing Units), or VDE installations that use software to 

25 substitute for, or complement, said hardware (provided by Host 

Processing Environments (HPEs)), operate in conjunction with 
secure communications, systems integration software, and 
distributed software control information and support structures, to 
achieve the electronic contract/rights protection environment of the 

30 present invention. Together, these VDE components comprise a 


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secure, virtual, distributed content and/or appliance control, 
auditing (and other administration), reporting, and payment 
environment. In some embodiments and where commercially 
acceptable, certain VDE participants, such as clearinghouses that 
normally maintain sufficiently physically secure non-VDE 
processing environments, may be allowed to employ HPEs rather 
VDE hardware elements and interoperate, for example, with VDE 
end-users and content providers. VDE components together 
comprise a configurable, consistent, secure and "trusted" 
architecture for distributed, asynchronous control of electronic 
content and/or appliance usage. VDE supports a -universe wide" 
environment for electronic content delivery, broad dissemination, 
usage reporting, and usage related payment activities. 

VDE provides generalized configurability. This results, in 
part, from decomposition of generalized requirements for 
supporting electronic commerce and data security into a broad 
range of constituent "atomic" and higher level components (such as 
load modules, data elements, and methods) that may be variously 
aggregated together to form control methods for electronic 
commerce applications, commercial electronic agreements, and 
data security arrangements. VDE provides a secure operating 
environment employing VDE foundation elements along with 
secure independently deliverable VDE components that enable 
electronic commerce models and relationships to develop. VDE 
specifically supports the unfolding of distribution models in which 
content providers, over time, can expressly agree to, or allow, 
subsequent content providers and/or users to participate in 
shaping the control information for, and consequences of, use of 
electronic content and/or appliances. A very broad range of the 


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functional attributes important for supporting simple to very 
complex electronic commerce and data security activities are 
supported by capabilities of the present invention. As a result, 
VDE supports most types of electronic information and/or 
appliance: usage control (including distribution), security, usage 
auditing, reporting, other administration, and payment 
arrangements. 

VDE, in its preferred embodiment, employs object software 
technology and uses object technology to form "containers" for 
delivery of information that is (at least in part) encrypted or 
otherwise secured. These containers may contain electronic 
content products or other electronic information and some or all of 
their associated permissions (control) information. These 
container objects may be distributed along pathways involving 
content providers and/or content users. They may be securely 
moved among nodes of a Virtual Distribution Environment (VDE) 
arrangement, which nodes operate VDE foundation software and 
execute control methods to enact electronic information usage 
control and/or administration models. The containers delivered 
through use of the preferred embodiment of the present invention 
may be employed both for distributing VDE control instructions 
(information) and/or to encapsulate and electronically distribute 
content that has been at least partially secured. 

Content providers who employ the present invention may 
include, for example, software application and game publishers, 
database publishers, cable, television, and radio broadcasters, 
electronic shopping vendors, and distributors of information in 
electronic document, book, periodical, e-mail and/or other forms. 


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Corporations, government agencies, and/or individual "end-users" 
who act as storers of, and/or distributors of, electronic information, 
may also be VDE content providers (in a restricted model, a user 
provides content only to himself and employs VDE to secure his 
own confidential information against unauthorized use by other 
parties). Electronic information may include proprietary and/or 
confidential information for personal or internal organization use, 
as well as information, such as software applications, documents, 
entertainment materials, and/or reference information, which may 
be provided to other parties. Distribution may be by, for example, 
physical media delivery, broadcast and/or telecommunication 
means, and in the form of "static" files and/or streams of data. 
VDE may also be used, for example, for multi-site "real-time" 
interaction such as teleconferencing, interactive games, or on-line 
bulletin boards, where restrictions on, and/or auditing of, the use 
of all or portions of communicated information is enforced. 

VDE provides important mechanisms for both enforcing 
commercial agreements and enabling the protection of privacy 
rights. VDE can securely deliver information from one party to 
another concerning the use of commercially distributed electronic 
content. Even if parties are separated by several "steps" in a 
chain (pathway) of handling for such content usage information, 
such information is protected by VDE through encryption and/or 
other secure processing. Because of that protection, the accuracy 
of such information is guaranteed by VDE, and the information 
can be trusted by all parties to whom it is delivered. Furthermore, 
VDE guarantees that all parties can trust that such information 
cannot be received by anyone other than the intended, authorized, 
party(ies) because it is encrypted such that only an authorized 


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party, or her agents, can decrypt it. Such information may also be 
derived through a secure VDE process at a previous pathway-of- 
handling location to produce secure VDE reporting information 
that is then communicated securely to its intended recipient's VDE 
secure subsystem. Because VDE can deliver such information 
securely, parties to an electronic agreement need not trust the 
accuracy of commercial usage and/or other information delivered 
through means other than those under control of VDE. 

VDE participants in a commercial value chain can be 
•commercially" confident (that is, sufficiently confident for 
commercial purposes) that the direct (constituent) and/or 
"extended" electronic agreements they entered into through the 
use of VDE can be enforced reliably. These agreements may have 
both "dynamic" transaction management related aspects, such as 
content usage control information enforced through budgeting, 
metering, and/or reporting of electronic information and/or 
appliance use, and/or they may include "static" electronic 
assertions, such as an end-user using the system to assert bis or 
her agreement to pay for services, not to pass to unauthorized 
parties electronic information derived from usage of content or 
systems, and/or agreeing to observe copyright laws. Not only can 
electronically reported transaction related information be trusted 
under the present invention, but payment may be automated by 
the passing of payment tokens through a pathway of payment 
(which may or may not be the same as a pathway for reporting). 
Such payment can be contained within a VDE container created 
automatically by a VDE installation in response to control 
information (located, in the preferred embodiment, in one or more 
permissions records) stipulating the "withdrawal" of credit or 


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electronic currency (such as tokens) from an electronic account (for 
example, an account securely maintained by a user's VDE 
installation secure subsystem) based upon usage of VDE controlled 
electronic content and/or appliances (such as governments, 
financial credit providers, and users). 

VDE allows the needs of electronic commerce participants to 
be served and it can bind such participants together in a universe 
wide, trusted commercial network that can be secure enough to 
support very large amounts of commerce. VDE's security and 
metering secure subsystem core will be present at all physical 
locations where VDE related content is (a) assigned usage related 
control information (rules and mediating data), and/or (b) used. 
This core can perform security and auditing functions (including 
metering) that operate within a "virtual black box," a collection of 
distributed, very secure VDE related hardware instances that are 
interconnected by secured information exchange (for example, 
telecommunication) processes and distributed database means. 
VDE further includes highly configurable transaction operating 
system technology, one or more associated libraries of load 
modules along with affiliated data, VDE related administration, 
data preparation, and analysis applications, as well as system 
software designed to enable VDE integration into host 
environments and applications. VDE's usage control information, 
for example, provide for property content and/or appliance related: 
usage authorization, usage auditing (which may include audit 
reduction), usage billing, usage payment, privacy filtering, 
reporting, and security related communication and encryption 
techniques. 


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VDE extensively employs methods in the form of software 
objects to augment configurability, portability, and security of the 
VDE environment. It also employs a software object architecture 
for VDE content containers that carries protected content and may 
also carry both freely available information (e.g, summary, table of 
contents) and secured content control information which ensures 
the performance of control information. Content control 
information governs content usage according to criteria set by 
holders of rights to an object's contents and/or according to parties 
who otherwise have rights associated with distributing such 
content (such as governments, financial credit providers, and 
users). 

In part, security is enhanced by object methods employed by 
the present invention because the encryption schemes used to 
protect an object can efficiently be further used to protect the 
associated content control information (software control 
information and relevant data) from modification. Said object 
techniques also enhance portability between various computer 
and/or other appliance environments because electronic 
information in the form of content can be inserted along with (for 
example, in the same object container as) content control 
information (for said content) to produce a "published" object. As 
a result, various portions of said control information may be 
specifically adapted for different environments, such as for diverse 
computer platforms and operating systems, and said various 
portions may all be carried by a VDE container. 

An objective of VDE is supporting a transaction/distribution 
control standard. Development of such a standard has many 


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obstacles, given the security requirements and related hardware 
and communications issues, widely differing environments, 
information types, types of information usage, business and/or 
data security goals, varieties of participants, and properties of 
delivered information. A significant feature of VDE accommodates 
the many, varying distribution and other transaction variables by, 
in part, decomposing electronic commerce and data security 
functions into generalized capability modules executable within a 
secure hardware SPU and/or corresponding software subsystem 
and further allowing extensive flexibility in assembling, modifying, 
and/or replacing, such modules (e.g. load modules and/or methods) 
in applications run on a VDE installation foundation. This 
configurability and ^configurability allows electronic commerce 
and data security participants to reflect their priorities and 
requirements through a process of iteratively shaping an evolving 
extended electronic agreement (electronic control model). This 
shaping can occur as content control information passes from one 
VDE participant to another and to the extent allowed by "in place" 
content control information. This process allows users of VDE to 
recast existing control information and/or add new control 
information as necessary (including the elimination of no longer 
required elements). 

VDE supports trusted (sufficiently secure) electronic 
information distribution and usage control models for both 
commercial electronic content distribution and data security 
applications. It can be configured to meet the diverse 
requirements of a network of interrelated participants that may 
include content creators, content distributors, client 
administrators, end users, and/or clearinghouses and/or other 


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content usage information users. These parties may constitute a 
network of participants involved in simple to complex electronic 
content dissemination, usage control, usage reporting, and/or 
usage payment. Disseminated content may include both originally 
provided and VDE generated information (such as content usage 
information) and content control information may persist through 
both chains (one or more pathways) of content and content control 
information handling, as well as the direct usage of content. The 
configurability provided by the present invention is particularly 
critical for supporting electronic commerce, that is enabling 
businesses to create relationships and evolve strategies that offer 
competitive value. Electronic commerce tools that are not 
inherently configurable and interoperable will ultimately fail to 
produce products (and services) that meet both basic requirements 
and evolving needs of most commerce applications. 

VDE's fundamental configurability will allow a broad range 
of competitive electronic commerce business models to flourish. It 
allows business models to be shaped to maximize revenues 
sources, end-user product value, and operating efficiencies. VDE 
can be employed to support multiple, differing models, take 
advantage of new revenue opportunities, and deliver product 
configurations most desired by users. Electronic commerce 
technologies that do not, as the present invention does: 

• support a broad range of possible, complementary 
revenue activities, 

• offer a flexible array of content usage features most 
desired by customers, and 

• exploit opportunities for operating efficiencies, 


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will result in products that are often intrinsically more costly and 
less appealing and therefore less competitive in the marketplace. 

Some of the key factors contributing to the configurability 
intrinsic to the present invention include: 

(a) integration into the fundamental control environment 
of a broad range of electronic appliances through 
portable API and programming language tools that 
efficiently support merging of control and auditing 
capabilities in nearly any electronic appliance 
environment while maintaining overall system 
security; 

(b) modular data structures; 

(c) generic content model; 

(d) general modularity and independence of foundation 
architectural components; 


(e) modular security structures; 

(£) variable length and multiple branching chains of 
control; and 

(g) independent, modular control structures in the form 
executable load modules that can be maintained in 
one or more libraries, and assembled into control 
methods and models, and where such model control 


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schemes can "evolve" as control information passes 
through the VDE installations of participants of a 
pathway of VDE content control information handling. 

Because of the breadth of issues resolved by the present 
invention, it can provide the emerging "electronic highway" with a 
single transaction/distribution control system that can, for a very 
broad range of commercial and data security models, ensure 
against unauthorized use of confidential and/or proprietary 
information and commercial electronic transactions. VDE's 
electronic transaction management mechanisms can enforce the 
electronic rights and agreements of all parties participating in 
widely varying business and data security models, and this can be 
efficiently achieved through a single VDE implementation within 
each VDE participant's electronic appliance. VDE supports widely 
varying business and/or data security models that can involve a 
broad range of participants at various "levels" of VDE content 
and/or content control information pathways of handling. Different 
content control and/or auditing models and agreements may be 
available on the same VDE installation. These models and 
agreements may control content in relationship to, for example, 
VDE installations and/or users in general; certain specific users, 
installations, classes and/or other groupings of installations and/or 
users; as well as to electronic content generally on a given 
installation, to specific properties, property portions, classes and/or 
other groupings of content. 

Distribution using VDE may package both the electronic 
content and control information into the same VDE container, 
and/or may involve the delivery to an end-user site of different 


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pieces of the same VDE managed property from plural separate 
remote locations and/or in plural separate VDE content containers 
and/or employing plural different delivery means. Content control 
information may be partially or fully delivered separately from its 
associated content to a user VDE installation in one or more VDE 
administrative objects. Portions of said control information may 
be delivered from one or more sources. Control information may 
also be available for use by access from a user's VDE installation 
secure sub-system to one or more remote VDE secure sub-systems 
and/or VDE compatible, certified secure remote locations. VDE 
control processes such as metering, budgeting, decrypting and/or 
fingerprinting, may as relates to a certain user content usage 
activity, be performed in a user's local VDE installation secure 
subsystem, or said processes may be divided amongst plural secure 
subsystems which may be located in the same user VDE 
installations and/or in a network server and in the user 
installation. For example, a local VDE installation may perform 
decryption and save any, or all of, usage metering information 
related to content and/or electronic appliance usage at such user 
installation could be performed at the server employing secure 
(e.g., encrypted) communications between said secure subsystems. 
Said server location may also be used for near real time, frequent, 
or more periodic secure receipt of content usage information from 
said user installation, with, for example, metered information 
being maintained only temporarily at a local user installation. 

Delivery means for VDE managed content may include 
electronic data storage means such as optical disks for delivering 
one portion of said information and broadcasting and/or 
telecommunicating means for other portions of said information. 


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Electronic data storage means may include magnetic media, 
optical media, combined magneto-optical systems, flash RAM 
memory, bubble memory, and/or other memory storage means such 
as huge capacity optical storage systems employing holographic, 
5 frequency, and/or polarity data storage techniques. Data storage 

means may also employ layered disc techniques, such as the use of 
generally transparent and/or translucent materials that pass light 
through layers of data carrying discs which themselves are 
physically packaged together as one thicker disc. Data carrying 
10 locations on such discs may be, at least in part, opaque. 

VDE supports a general purpose foundation for secure 
transaction management, including usage control, auditing, 
reporting, and/or payment. This general purpose foundation is 

15 called "VDE Functions" ("VDEFs"). VDE also supports a 

collection of "atomic" application elements (e.g., load modules) that 
can be selectively aggregated together to form various VDEF 
capabilities called control methods and which serve as VDEF 
applications and operating system functions. When a host 

20 operating environment of an electronic appliance includes VDEF 

capabilities, it is called a "Rights Operating System" (ROS). VDEF 
load modules, associated data, and methods form a body of 
information that for the purposes of the present invention are 
called "control information." VDEF control information may be 

25 specifically associated with one or more pieces of electronic content 

and/or it may be employed as a general component of the 
operating system capabilities of a VDE installation. 

VDEF transaction control elements reflect and enact content 
30 specific and/or more generalized administrative (for example, 


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general operating system) control information. VDEF capabilities 
which can generally take the form of applications (application 
models) that have more or less configurability which can be shaped 
by VDE participants, through the use, for example, of VDE 
templates, to employ specific capabilities, along, for example, with 
capability parameter data to reflect the elements of one or more 
express electronic agreements between VDE participants in 
regards to the use of electronic content such as commercially 
distributed products. These control capabilities manage the use of, 
and/or auditing of use of, electronic content, as well as reporting 
information based upon content use, and any payment for said 
use. VDEF capabilities may "evolve" to reflect the requirements of 
one or more successive parties who receive or otherwise contribute 
to a given set of control information. Frequently, for a VDE 
application for a given content model (such as distribution of 
entertainment on CD-ROM, content delivery from an Internet 
repository, or electronic catalog shopping and advertising, or some 
combination of the above) participants would be able to securely 
select from amongst available, alternative control methods and 
apply related parameter data, wherein such selection of control 
method and/or submission of data would constitute their 
"contribution" of control information. Alternatively, or in addition, 
certain control methods that have been expressly certified as 
securely interoperable and compatible with said application may 
be independently submitted by a participant as part of such a 
contribution. In the most general example, a generally certified 
load module (certified for a given VDE arrangement and/or content 
class) may be used with many or any VDE application that 
operates in nodes of said arrangement. These parties, to the 
extent they are allowed, can independently and securely add, 


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delete, and/or otherwise modify the specification of load modules 
and methods, as well as add, delete or otherwise modify related 
information. 

5 Normally the party who creates a VDE content container 

defines the general nature of the VDEF capabilities that will 
and/or may apply to certain electronic information. A VDE 
content container is an object that contains both content ( for 
example, commercially distributed electronic information products 

10 such as computer software programs, movies, electronic 

publications or reference materials, etc.) and certain control 
information related to the use of the object's content. A creating 
party may make a VDE container available to other parties. 
Control information delivered by, and/or otherwise available for 

15 use with, VDE content containers comprise (for commercial 

content distribution purposes) VDEF control capabilities (and any 
associated parameter data) for electronic content. These 
capabilities may constitute one or more "proposed" electronic 
agreements (and/or agreement functions available for selection 

20 and/or use with parameter data) that manage the use and/or the 

consequences of use of such content and which can enact the terms 
and conditions of agreements involving multiple parties and their 
various rights and obligations. 

25 A VDE electronic agreement may be explicit, through a user 

interface acceptance by one or more parties, for example by a 
"junior" party who has received control information from a "senior" 
party, or it may be a process amongst equal parties who 
individually assert their agreement. Agreement may also result 

30 from an automated electronic process during which terms and 


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conditions are "evaluated" by certain VDE participant control 
information that assesses whether certain other electronic terms 
and conditions attached to content and/or submitted by another 
party are acceptable (do not violate acceptable control information 
criteria). Such an evaluation process may be quite simple, for 
example a comparison to ensure compatibility between a portion 
of, or all senior, control terms and conditions in a table of terms 
and conditions and the submitted control information of a 
subsequent participant in a pathway of content control information 
handling, or it may be a more elaborate process that evaluates the 
potential outcome of, and/or implements a negotiation process 
between, two or more sets of control information submitted by two 
or more parties. VDE also accommodates a semi-automated 
process during which one or more VDE participants directly, 
through user interface means, resolve "disagreements'' between 
control information sets by accepting and/or proposing certain 
control information that may be acceptable to control information 
representing one or more other parties interests and/or responds to 
certain user interface queries for selection of certain alternative 
choices and/or for certain parameter information, the responses 
being adopted if acceptable to applicable senior control 
information. 

When another party (other than the first applier of rules), 
perhaps through a negotiation process, accepts, and/or adds to 
and/or otherwise modifies, "in place" content control information, a 
VDE agreement between two or more parties related to the use of 
such electronic content may be created (so long as any 
modifications are consistent with senior control information). 
Acceptance of terms and conditions related to certain electronic 


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content may be direct and express, or it may be implicit as a result 
of use of content (depending, for example, on legal requirements, 
previous exposure to such terms and conditions, and requirements 
of in place control information). 

VDEF capabilities may be employed, and a VDE agreement 
may be entered into, by a plurality of parties without the VDEF 
capabilities being directly associated with the controlling of 
certain, specific electronic information. For example, certain one 
or more VDEF capabilities may be present at a VDE installation, 
and certain VDE agreements may have been entered into during 
the registration process for a content distribution application, to be 
used by such installation for securely controlling VDE content 
usage, auditing, reporting and/or payment. Similarly, a specific 
VDE participant may enter into a VDE user agreement with a 
VDE content or electronic appliance provider when the user andVor 
her appliance register with such provider as a VDE installation 
and/or user. In such events, VDEF in place control information 
available to the user VDE installation may require that certain 
VDEF methods are employed, for example in a certain sequence, 
in order to be able to use all and/or certain classes, of electronic 
content and/or VDE applications. 

VDE ensures that certain prerequisites necessary for a given 
transaction to occur are met. This includes the secure execution of 
any required load modules and the availability of any required, 
associated data. For example, required load modules and data 
(e.g. in the form of a method) might specify that sufficient credit 
from an authorized source must be confirmed as available. It 
might farther require certain one or more load modules execute as 


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processes at an appropriate time to ensure that such credit will be 
used in order to pay for user use of the content. A certain content 
provider might, for example, require metering the number of 
copies made for distribution to employees of a given software 
program (a portion of the program might be maintained in 
encrypted form and require the presence of a VDE installation to 
run). This would require the execution of a metering method for 
copying of the property each time a copy was made for another 
employee. This same provider might also charge fees based on the 
total number of different properties licensed from them by the user 
and a metering history of their licensing of properties might be 
required to maintain this information. 

VDE provides organization, community, and/or universe 
wide secure environments whose integrity is assured by processes 
securely controlled in VDE participant user installations (nodes). 
VDE installations, in the preferred embodiment, may include both 
software and tamper resistant hardware semiconductor elements. 
Such a semiconductor arrangement comprises, at least in part, 
special purpose circuitry that has been designed to protect against 
tampering with, or unauthorized observation of, the information 
and functions used in performing the VDE's control functions. The 
special purpose secure circuitry provided by the present invention 
includes at least one of: a dedicated semiconductor arrangement 
known as a Secure Processing Unit (SPU) and/or a standard 
microprocessor, microcontroller, and/or other processing logic that 
accommodates the requirements of the present invention and 
functions as an SPU. VDE's secure hardware may be found 
incorporated into, for example, a fax/modem chip or chip pack, I/O 
controller, video display controller, and/or other available digital 


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processing arrangements. It is anticipated that portions of the 
present invention's VDE secure hardware capabilities may 
ultimately be standard design elements of central processing units 
(CPUs) for computers and various other electronic devices. 

Designing VDE capabilities into one or more standard 
microprocessor, microcontroller and/or other digital processing 
components may materially reduce VDE related hardware costs by 
employing the same hardware resources for both the transaction 
management uses contemplated by the present invention and for 
other, host electronic appliance functions. This means that a VDE 
SPU can employ (share) circuitry elements of a "standard" CPU. 
For example, if a "standard" processor can operate in protected 
mode and can execute VDE related instructions as a protected 
activity, then such an embodiment may provide sufficient 
hardware security for a variety of applications and the expense of 
a special purpose processor might be avoided. Under one 
preferred embodiment of the present invention, certain memory 
(e.g., RAM, ROM, NVRAM) is maintained during VDE related 
instruction processing in a protected mode (for example, as 
supported by protected mode microprocessors). This memory is 
located in the same package as the processing logic (e.g. processor). 
Desirably, the packaging and memory of such a processor would be 
designed using security techniques that enhance its resistance to 
tampering. 

The degree of overall security of the VDE system is 
primarily dependent on the degree of tamper resistance and 
concealment of VDE control process execution and related data 
storage activities. Employing special purpose semiconductor 


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packaging techniques can significantly contribute to the degree of 
security. Concealment and tamper-resistance in semiconductor 
memory (e.g., RAM, ROM, NVRAM) can be achieved, in part, by 
employing such memory within an SPU package, by encrypting 
data before it is sent to external memory (such as an external 
RAM package) and decrypting encrypted data within the 
CPU/RAM package before it is executed. This process is used for 
important VDE related data when such data is stored on 
unprotected media, for example, standard host storage, such as 
random access memory, mass storage, etc. In that event, a VDE 
SPU would encrypt data that results from a secure VDE execution 
before such data was stored in external memory. 

Summary of Some Important Features Provided by VDE in 
Accordance With the Present Invention 

VDE employs a variety of capabilities that serve as a 

foundation for a general purpose, sufficiently secure distributed 

electronic commerce solution. VDE enables an electronic 

commerce marketplace that supports divergent, competitive 

business partnerships, agreements, and evolving overall business 

models. For example, VDE includes features that: 

"sufficiently" impede unauthorized and/or 
uncompensated use of electronic information and/or 
appliances through the use of secure communication, 
storage, and transaction management technologies. 
VDE supports a model wide, distributed security 
implementation which creates a single secure "virtual" 
transaction processing and information storage 
environment. VDE enables distributed VDE 
installations to securely store and communicate 


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information and remotely control the execution 
processes and the character of use of electronic 
information at other VDE installations and in a wide 
variety of ways; 

support low-cost, efficient, and effective security 
architectures for transaction control, auditing, 
reporting, and related communications and 
information storage. VDE may employ tagging related 
security techniques, the time-ageing of encryption 
keys, the compartmentalization of both stored control 
information (including differentially tagging such 
stored information to ensure against substitution and 
tampering) and distributed content (to, for many 
content applications, employ one or more content 
encryption keys that are unique to the specific VDE 
installation and/or user), private key techniques such 
as triple DES to encrypt content, public key 
techniques such as RSA to protect communications 
and to provide the benefits of digital signature and 
authentication to securely bind together the nodes of a 
VDE arrangement, secure processing of important 
transaction management executable code, and a 
combining of a small amount of highly secure, 
hardware protected storage space with a much larger 
"exposed" mass media storage space storing secured 
(normally encrypted and tagged) control and audit 
information. VDE employs special purpose hardware 
distributed throughout some or all locations of a VDE 
implementation: a) said hardware controlling 


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important elements of: content preparation (such as 
causing such content to be placed in a VDE content 
container and associating content control information 
with said content), content and/or electronic appliance 
usage auditing, content usage analysis, as well as 
content usage control; and b) said hardware having 
been designed to securely handle processing load 
module control activities, wherein said control 
processing activities may involve a sequence of 
required control factors; 

support dynamic user selection of information subsets 
of a VDE electronic information product (VDE 
controlled content). This contrasts with the 
constraints of having to use a few high level 
individual, pre-defined content provider information 
increments such as being required to select a whole 
information product or product section in order to 
acquire or otherwise use a portion of such product or 
section. VDE supports metering and usage control 
over a variety of increments (including "atomic" 
increments, and combinations of different increment 
types) that are selected ad hoc by a user and represent 
a collection of pre-identified one or more increments 
(such as one or more blocks of a preidentified nature, 
e.g., bytes, images, logically related blocks) that form a 
generally arbitrary, but logical to a user, content 
"deliverable." VDE control information (including 
budgeting, pricing and metering) can be configured so 
that it can specifically apply, as appropriate, to ad hoc 


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selection of different, unanticipated variable user 
selected aggregations of information increments and 
pricing levels can be, at least in part, based on 
quantities and/or nature of mixed increment selections 
5 (for example, a certain quantity of certain text could 

mean associated images might be discounted by 15%; 
a greater quantity of text in the "mixed" increment 
selection might mean the images are discounted 20%). 
Such user selected aggregated information increments 

10 can reflect the actual requirements of a user for 

information and is more flexible than being limited to 
a single, or a few, high level, (e.g. product, document, 
database record) predetermined increments. Such 
high level increments may include quantities of 

15 information not desired by the user and as a result be 

more costly than the subset of information needed by 
the user if such a subset was available. In sum, the 
present invention allows information contained in 
electronic information products to be supplied 

20 according to user specification. Tailoring to user 

specification allows the present invention to provide 
the greatest value to users, which in turn will 
generate the greatest amount of electronic commerce 
activity. The user, for example, would be able to 

25 define an aggregation of content derived from various 

portions of an available content product, but which, as 
a deliverable for use by the user, is an entirely unique 
aggregated increment. The user may, for example, 
select certain numbers of bytes of information from 

30 various portions of an information product, such as a 


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reference work, and copy them to disc in unencrypted 
form and be billed based on total number of bytes plus 
a surcharge on the number of "articles" that provided 
the bytes. A content provider might reasonably | 
charge less for such a user denned information 
increment since the user does not require all of the 
content from all of the articles that contained desired 
information. This process of defining a user desired 
information increment may involve artificial 
intelligence database search tools that contribute to 
the location of the most relevant portions of 
information from an information product and cause 
the automatic display to the user of information 
describing search criteria hits for user selection or the 
automatic extraction and delivery of such portions to 
the user. VDE further supports a wide variety of 
predefined increment types including: 

• bytes, 

• images, 

• content over time for audio or video, or any 
other increment that can be identified by content 
provider data mapping efforts, such as: 

• sentences, 

• paragraphs, 

• articles, 

• database records, and 

• byte offsets representing increments of logically 
related information. 


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VDE supports as many simultaneous predefined increment types 
as may be practical for a given type of content and business model. 

• securely store at a user's site potentially highly 
detailed information reflective of a user's usage of a 
variety of different content segment types and 
employing both inexpensive "exposed" host mass 
storage for maintaining detailed information in the 
form of encrypted data and maintaining summary 
information for security testing in highly secure 
special purpose VDE installation nonvolatile memory 
(if available). 

• support trusted chain of handling capabilities for 
pathways of distributed electronic information and/or 
for content usage related information. Such chains 
may extend, for example, from a content creator, to a 
distributor, a redistributor, a client user, and then 
may provide a pathway for securely reporting the 
same and/or differing usage information to one or 
more auditors, such as to one or more independent 
clearinghouses and then back to the content providers, 
including content creators. The same and/or different 
pathways employed for certain content handling, and 
related content control information and reporting 
information handling, may also be employed as one or 
more pathways for electronic payment handling 
(payment is characterized in the present invention as 
administrative content) for electronic content and/or 


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appliance usage. These pathways are used for 
conveyance of all or portions of content, and/or content 
related control information. Content creators and 
other providers can specify the pathways that, 
partially or fully, must be used to disseminate 
commercially distributed property content, content 
control information, payment administrative content, 
and/or associated usage reporting information. 
Control information specified by content providers 
may also specify which specific parties must or may 
(including, for example, a group of eligible parties 
from which a selection may be made) handle conveyed 
information. It may also specify what transmission 
means (for example telecommunication carriers or 
media types) and transmission hubs must or may be 
used. 

support flexible auditing mechanisms, such as 
employing "bitmap meters," that achieve a high degree 
of efficiency of operation and throughput and allow, in 
a practical manner, the retention and ready recall of 
information related to previous usage activities and 
related patterns. This flexibility is adaptable to a wide 
variety of billing and security control strategies such 
as: 

■ upgrade pricing (e.g. suite purchases), 

■ pricing discounts (including quantity discounts), 

■ billing related time duration variables such as 
discounting new purchases based on the timing 
of past purchases, and 


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■ security budgets based on quantity of different, 
logically related units of electronic information 
used over an interval of time. 

Use of bitmap meters (including "regular" and "wide" 
bitmap meters) to record usage and/or purchase of 
information, in conjunction with other elements of the 
preferred embodiment of the present invention, 
uniquely supports efficient maintenance of usage 
history for: (a) rental, (b) flat fee licensing or 
purchase, (c) licensing or purchase discounts based 
upon historical usage variables, and (d) reporting to 
users in a maimer enabling users to determine 
whether a certain item was acquired, or acquired 
within a certain time period (without requiring the 
use of conventional database mechanisms, which are 
highly inefficient for these applications). Bitmap 
meter methods record activities associated with 
electronic appliances, properties, objects, or portions 
thereof, and/or administrative activities that are 
independent of specific properties, objects, etc., 
performed by a user and/or electronic appliance such 
that a content and/or appliance provider and/or 
controller of an administrative activity can determine 
whether a certain activity has occurred at some point, 
or during a certain period, in the past (for example, 
certain use of a commercial electronic content product 
and/or appliance). Such determinations can then be 
used as part of pricing and/or control strategies of a 
content and/or appliance provider, and/or controller of 


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an administrative activity. For example, the content 
provider may choose to charge only once for access to 
a portion of a property, regardless of the number of 
times that portion of the property is accessed by a 
user. 

support "launchable" content, that is content that can 
be provided by a content provider to an end-user, who 
can then copy or pass along the content to other 
end-user parties without requiring the direct 
participation of a content provider to register and/or 
otherwise initialize the content for use. This content 
goes "out of (the traditional distribution) channel" in 
the form of a "traveling object." Traveling objects are 
containers that securely carry at least some 
permissions information and/or methods that are 
required for their use (such methods need not be 
carried by traveling objects if the required methods 
will be available at, or directly available to, a 
destination VDE installation). Certain travelling 
objects may be used at some or all VDE installations 
of a given VDE arrangement since they can make 
available the content control information necessary for 
content use without requiring the involvement of a 
commercial VDE value chain participant or data 
security administrator (e.g. a control officer or network 
administrator). As long as traveling object control 
information requirements are available at the user 
VDE installation secure subsystem (such as the 
presence of a sufficient quantity of financial credit 


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from an authorized credit provider), at least some 
travelling object content may be used by a receiving 
party without the need to establish a connection with 
a remote VDE authority (until, for example, budgets 
are exhausted or a time content usage reporting 
interval has occurred). Traveling objects can travel 
a out-of-channel, w allowing, for example, a user to give 
a copy of a traveling object whose content is a 
software program, a movie or a game, to a neighbor, 
the neighbor being able to use the traveling object if 
appropriate credit (e.g. an electronic clearinghouse 
account from a clearinghouse such as VISA or AT&T) 
is available. Similarly, electronic information that is 
generally available on an Internet, or a similar 
network, repository might be provided in the form of a 
traveling object that can be downloaded and 
subsequently copied by the initial downloader and 
then passed along to other parties who may pass the 
object on to additional parties. 

provide very flexible and extensible user identification 
according to individuals, installations, by groups such 
as classes, and by function and hierarchical 
identification employing a hierarchy of levels of client 
identification (for example, client organization ID, 
client department ID, client network ID, client project 
ID, and client employee ID, or any appropriate subset 
of the above). 


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provide a general purpose, secure, component based 
content control and distribution system that functions 
as a foundation transaction operating system 
environment that employs executable code pieces 
crafted for transaction control and auditing. These 
code pieces can be reused to optimize efficiency in 
creation and operation of trusted, distributed 
transaction management arrangements. VDE 
supports providing such executable code in the form of 
"atomic" load modules and associated data. Many 
such load modules are inherently configurable, 
aggregatable, portable, and extensible and singularly, 
or in combination (along with associated data), run as 
control methods under the VDE transaction operating 
environment. VDE can satisfy the requirements of 
widely differing electronic commerce and data security 
applications by, in part, employing this general 
purpose transaction management foundation to 
securely process VDE transaction related control 
methods. Control methods are created primarily 
through the use of one or more of said executable, 
reusable load module code pieces (normally in the 
form of executable object components) and associated 
data. The component nature of control methods 
allows the present invention to efficiently operate as a 
highly configurable content control system. Under the 
present invention, content control models can be 
iteratively and asynchronously shaped, and otherwise 
updated to accommodate the needs of VDE 
participants to the extent that such shaping and 


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otherwise updating conforms to constraints applied by 
a VDE application, if any (e.g., whether new 
component assemblies are accepted and, if so, what 
certification requirements exist for such component 
assemblies or whether any or certain participants may 
shape any or certain control information by selection 
amongst optional control information (permissions 
record) control methods. This iterative (or concurrent) 
multiple participant process occurs as a result of the 
submission and use of secure, control information 
components (executable code such as load modules 
and/or methods, and/or associated data). These 
components may be contributed independently by 
secure communication between each control 
information influencing VDE participant's VDE 
installation and may require certification for use with 
a given application, where such certification was 
provided by a certification service manager for the 
VDE arrangement who ensures secure interoperability 
and/or reliability (e.g., bug control resulting from 
interaction) between appliances and submitted control 
methods. The transaction management control 
functions of a VDE electronic appliance transaction 
operating environment interact with non-secure 
transaction management operating system functions 
to properly direct transaction processes and data 
related to electronic information security, usage 
control, auditing, and usage reporting. VDE provides 
the capability to manages resources related to secure 


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VDE content and/or appliance control information 
execution and data storage. 


facilitate creation of application and/or system 
functionality under VDE and to facilitate integration 
into electronic appliance environments of load modules 
and methods created under the present invention. To 
achieve this, VDE employs an Application 
Programmer's Interface (API) and/or a transaction 
operating system (such as a ROS) programming 
language with incorporated functions, both of which 
support the use of capabilities and can be used to 
efficiently and tightly integrate VDE functionality into 
commercial and user applications. 

support user interaction through: (a) "Pop-Up" 
applications which, for example, provide messages to 
users and enable users to take specific actions such as 
approving a transaction, (b) stand-alone VDE 
applications that provide administrative environments 
for user activities such as: end-user preference 
specifications for limiting the price per transaction, 
unit of time, and/or session, for accessing history 
information concerning previous transactions, for 
reviewing financial information such as budgets, 
expenditures (e.g. detailed and/or summary) and usage 
analysis information, and (c) VDE aware applications 
which, as a result of the use of a VDE API and/or a 
transaction management (for example, ROS based) 
programming language embeds VDE "awareness" into 


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commercial or internal software (application programs, 
games, etc.) so that VDE user control information and 
services are seamlessly integrated into such software 
and can be directly accessed by a user since the 
underlying functionality has been integrated into the 
commercial software's native design. For example, in 
a VDE aware word processor application, a user may 
be able to "print" a document into a VDE content 
container object, applying specific control information 
by selecting from amongst a series of different menu 
templates for different purposes (for example, a 
confidential memo template for internal organization 
purposes may restrict the ability to "keep," that is to 
make an electronic copy of the memo). 

employ "templates" to ease the process of configuring 
capabilities of the present invention as they relate to 
specific industries or businesses. Templates are 
applications or application add-ons under the present 
invention. Templates support the efficient 
specification and/or manipulation of criteria related to 
specific content types, distribution approaches, pricing 
mechanisms, user interactions with content and/or 
administrative activities, and/or the like. Given the 
very large range of capabilities and configurations 
supported by the present invention, reducing the 
range of configuration opportunities to a manageable 
subset particularly appropriate for a given business 
model allows the full configurable power of the present 
invention to be easily employed by "typical" users who 


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would be otherwise burdened with complex 
programming and/or configuration design 
responsibilities template applications can also help 
ensure that VDE related processes are secure and 
optimally bug free by reducing the risks associated 
with the contribution of independently developed load 
modules, including unpredictable aspects of code 
interaction between independent modules and 
applications, as well as security risks associated with 
possible presence of viruses in such modules. VDE, 
through the use of templates, reduces typical user 
configuration responsibilities to an appropriately 
focused set of activities including selection of method 
types (e.g. functionality) through menu choices such as 
multiple choice, icon selection, and/or prompting for 
method parameter data (such as identification 
information, prices, budget limits, dates, periods of 
time, access rights to specific content, etc.) that supply 
appropriate and/or necessary data for control 
information purposes. By limiting the typical 
(non-programming) user to a limited subset of 
configuration activities whose general configuration 
environment (template) has been preset to reflect 
general requirements corresponding to that user, or a 
content or other business model can very substantially 
limit difficulties associated with content 
containerization (including placing initial control 
information on content), distribution, client 
administration, electronic agreement implementation, 
end-user interaction, and clearinghouse activities, 


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including associated interoperability problems (such as 
conflicts resulting from security, operating system, 
and/or certification incompatibilities). Use of 
appropriate VDE templates can assure users that 
their activities related to content VDE 
containerization, contribution of other control 
information, communications, encryption techniques 
and/or keys, etc. will be in compliance with 
specifications for their distributed VDE arrangement. 
VDE templates constitute preset configurations that 
can normally be reconfigurable to allow for new and/or 
modified templates that reflect adaptation into new 
industries as they evolve or to reflect the evolution or 
other change of an existing industry. For example, 
the template concept may be used to provide 
individual, overall frameworks for organizations and 
individuals that create, modify, market, distribute, 
consume, and/or otherwise use movies, audio 
recordings and live performances, magazines, 
telephony based retail sales, catalogs, computer 
software, information data bases, multimedia, 
commercial communications, advertisements, market 
surveys, infomercials, games, CAD/CAM services for 
numerically controlled machines, and the like. As the 
context surrounding these templates changes or 
evolves, template applications provided under the 
present invention may be modified to meet these 
changes for broad use, or for more focused activities. A 
given VDE participant may have a plurality of 
templates available for different tasks. A party that 


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places content in its initial VDE container may have a 
variety of different, configurable templates depending 
on the type of content and/or business model related to 
the content. An end-user may have different 
configurable templates that can be applied to different 
document types (e-mail, secure internal documents, 
database records, etc.) and/or subsets of users 
(applying differing general sets of control information 
to different bodies of users, for example, selecting a 
list of users who may, under certain preset criteria, 
use a certain document). Of course, templates may, 
under certain circumstances have fixed control 
information and not provide for user selections or 
parameter data entry. 

support plural, different control models regulating the 
use and/or auditing of either the same specific copy of 
electronic information content and/or differently 
regulating different copies (occurrences) of the same 
electronic information content. Differing models for 
billing, auditing, and security can be applied to the 
same piece of electronic information content and such 
differing sets of control information may employ, for 
control purposes, the same, or differing, granularities 
of electronic information control increments. This 
includes supporting variable control information for 
budgeting and auditing usage as applied to a variety 
of predefined increments of electronic information, 
including employing a variety of different budgets 
and/or metering increments for a given electronic 


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information deliverable for: billing units of measure, 
credit limit, security budget limit and security content 
metering increments, and/or market surveying and 
customer profiling content metering increments. For 
example, a CD-ROM disk with a database of scientific 
articles might be in part billed according to a formula 
based on the number of bytes decrypted, number of 
articles containing said bytes decrypted, while a 
security budget might limit the use of said database to 
no more than 5% of the database per month for users 
on the wide area network it is installed on. 

provide mechanisms to persistently maintain trusted 
content usage and reporting control information 
through both a sufficiently secure chain of handling of 
content and content control information and through 
various forms of usage of such content wherein said 
persistence of control may survive such use. 
Persistence of control includes the ability to extract 
information from a VDE container object by creating a 
new container whose contents are at least in part 
secured and that contains both the extracted content 
and at least a portion of the control information which 
control information of the original container and/or are 
at least in part produced by control information of the 
original container for this purpose and/or VDE 
installation control information stipulates should 
persist and/or control usage of content in the newly 
formed container. Such control information can 
continue to manage usage of container content if the 


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container is -embedded" into another VDE managed 
object, such as an object which contains plural 
embedded VDE containers, each of which contains 
content derived (extracted) from a different source. 

enables users, other value chain participants (such as 
clearinghouses and government agencies), and/or user 
organizations, to specify preferences or requirements 
related to their use of electronic content and/or 
appliances. Content users, such as end-user 
customers using commercially distributed content 
(games, information resources, software programs, 
etc.), can define, if allowed by senior control 
information, budgets, and/or other control information, 
to manage their own internal use of content. Uses 
include, for example, a user setting a limit on the 
price for electronic documents that the user is willing 
to pay without prior express user authorization, and 
the user establishing the character of metering 
information he or she is willing to allow to be collected 
(privacy protection). This includes providing the 
means for content users to protect the privacy of 
information derived from their use of a VDE 
installation and content and/or appliance usage 
auditing. In particular, VDE can prevent information 
related to a participant's usage of electronic content 
from being provided to other parties without the 
participant's tacit or explicit agreement. 


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provide mechanisms that allow control information to 
"evolve" and be modified according, at least in part, to 
independently, securely delivered further control 
information. Said control information may include 
executable code (e.g., load modules) that has been 
certified as acceptable (e.g., reliable and trusted) for 
use with a specific VDE application, class of 
applications, and/or a VDE distributed arrangement. 
This modification (evolution) of control information 
can occur upon content control information (load 
modules and any associated data) circulating to one or 
more VDE participants in a pathway of handling of 
control information, or it may occur upon control 
information being received from a VDE participant. 
Handlers in a pathway of handling of content control 
information, to the extent each is authorized, can 
establish, modify, and/or contribute to, permission, 
auditing, payment, and reporting control information 
related to controlling, analyzing, paying for, and/or 
reporting usage of, electronic content and/or 
appliances (for example, as related to usage of VDE 
controlled property content). Independently delivered 
(from an independent source which is independent 
except in regards to certification), at least in part 
secure, control information can be employed to 
securely modify content control information when 
content control information has flowed from one party 
to another party in a sequence of VDE content control 
information handling. This modification employs, for 
example, one or more VDE component assemblies 


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being securely processed in a VDE secure subsystem. 
In an alternate embodiment, control information may 
be modified by a senior party through use of their 
VDE installation secure sub-system after receiving 
submitted, at least in part secured, control 
information from a "junior" party, normally in the 
form of a VDE administrative object. Control 
information passing along VDE pathways can 
represent a mixed control set, in that it may include: 
control information that persisted through a sequence 
of control information handlers, other control 
information that was allowed to be modified, and 
further control information representing new control 
information and/or mediating data. Such a control set 
represents an evolution of control information for 
disseminated content. In this example the overall 
content control set for a VDE content container is 
-evolving" as it securely (e.g. communicated in 
encrypted form and using authentication and digital 
signaturing techniques) passes, at least in part, to a 
new participant's VDE installation where the proposed 
control information is securely received and handled. 
The received control information may be integrated 
(through use of the receiving parties' VDE installation 
secure sub-system) with in-place control information 
through a negotiation process involving both control 
information sets. For example, the modification, 
within the secure sub-system of a content provider's 
VDE installation, of content control information for a 
certain VDE content container may have occurred as a 


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result of the incorporation of required control 
information provided by a financial credit provider. 
Said credit provider may have employed their VDE 
installation to prepare and securely communicate 
(directly or indirectly) said required control 
information to said content provider. Incorporating 
said required control information enables a content 
provider to allow the credit provider's credit to be 
employed by a content end-user to compensate for the 
end-user's use of VDE controlled content and/or 
appliances, so long as said end-user has a credit 
account with said financial credit provider and said 
credit account has sufficient credit available. 
Similarly, control information requiring the payment 
of taxes and/or the provision of revenue information 
resulting from electronic commerce activities may be 
securely received by a content provider. This control 
information may be received, for example, from a 
government agency. Content providers might be 
required by law to incorporate such control 
information into the control information for 
commercially distributed content and/or services 
related to appliance usage. Proposed control 
information is used to an extent allowed by senior 
control information and as determined by any 
negotiation trade-ofls that satisfy priorities stipulated 
by each set (the received set and the proposed set). 
VDE also accommodates different control schemes 
specifically applying to different participants (e.g., 
individual participants and/or participant classes 


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(types)) in a network of VDE content handling 
participants. 


support multiple simultaneous control models for the 
same content property and/or property portion. This 
allows, for example, for concurrent business activities 
which are dependent on electronic commercial product 
content distribution, such as acquiring detailed 
market survey information and/or supporting 
advertising, both of which can increase revenue and 
result in lower content costs to users and greater 
value to content providers. Such control information 
and/or overall control models may be applied, as 
determined or allowed by control information, in 
differing manners to different participants in a 
pathway of content, reporting, payment, and/or related 
control information handling. VDE supports applying 
different content control information to the same 
and/or different content and/or appliance usage related 
activities, and/or to different parties in a content 
and/or appliance usage model, such that different 
parties (or classes of VDE users, for example) are 
subject to differing control information managing their 
use of electronic information content. For example, 
differing control models based on the category of a 
user as a distributor of a VDE controlled content 
object or an end-user of such content may result in 
different budgets being applied. Alternatively, for 
example, a one distributor may have the right to 
distribute a different array of properties than another 


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distributor (from a common content collection 
provided, for example, on optical disc). An individual, 
and/or a class or other grouping of end-users, may 
have different costs (for example, a student, senior 
citizen, and/or poor citizen user of content who may be 
provided with the same or differing discounts) than a 
"typical" content user. 

support provider revenue information resulting from 
customer use of content and/or appliances, and/or 
provider and/or end-user payment of taxes, through 
the transfer of credit and/or electronic currency from 
said end-user and/or provider to a government agency, 
might occur "automatically" as a result of such 
received control information causing the generation of 
a VDE content container whose content includes 
customer content usage information reflecting secure, 
trusted revenue summary information and/or detailed 
user transaction listings Gevel of detail might depend, 
for example on type or size of 
transaction— information regarding a bank interest 
payment to a customer or a transfer of a large (e.g. 
over $10,000) might be, by law, automatically reported 
to the government). Such summary and/or detailed 
information related to taxable events and/or currency, 
and/or creditor currency transfer, may be passed along 
a pathway of reporting and/or payment to the 
government in a VDE container. Such a container 
may also be used for other VDE related content usage 
reporting information. 


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support the flowing of content control information 
through different "branches" of content control 
information handling so as to accommodate, under the 
present invention's preferred embodiment, diverse 
controlled distributions of VDE controlled content. 
This allows different parties to employ the same 
initial electronic content with differing (perhaps 
competitive) control strategies. In this instance, a 
party who first placed control information on content 
can make certain control assumptions and these 
assumptions would evolve into more specific and/or 
extensive control assumptions. These control 
assumptions can evolve during the branching sequence 
upon content model participants submitting control 
information changes, for example, for use in 
"negotiating" with "in place" content control 
information. This can result in new or modified 
content control information and/or it might involve the 
selection of certain one or more already "in-place" 
content usage control methods over in-place 
alternative methods, as well as the submission of 
relevant control information parameter data. This 
form of evolution of different control information sets 
applied to different copies of the same electronic 
property content and/or appliance results from VDE 
control information flowing "down" through different 
branches in an overall pathway of handling and 
control and being modified differently as it diverges 
down these different pathway branches. This ability 
of the present invention to support multiple pathway 


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branches for the flow of both VDE content control 
information and VDE managed content enables an 
electronic commerce marketplace which supports 
diverging, competitive business partnerships, 
agreements, and evolving overall business models 
which can employ the same content properties 
combined, for example, in differing collections of 
content representing differing at least in part 
competitive products. 

enable a user to securely extract, through the use of 
the secure subsystem at the user's VDE installation, 
at least a portion of the content included within a 
VDE content container to produce a new, secure object 
(content container), such that the extracted 
information is maintained in a continually secure 
manner through the extraction process. Formation of 
the new VDE container containing such extracted 
content shall result in control information consistent 
with, or specified by, the source VDE content 
container, and/or local VDE installation secure 
subsystem as appropriate, content control information. 
Relevant control information, such as security and 
administrative information, derived, at least in part, 
from the parent (source) object's control information, 
will normally be automatically inserted into a new 
VDE content container object containing extracted 
VDE content. This process typically occurs under the 
control framework of a parent object and/or VDE 
installation control information executing at the user's 


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VDE installation secure subsystem (with, for example, 
at least a portion of this inserted control information 
being stored securely in encrypted form in one or more 
permissions records). In an alternative embodiment, 
the derived content control information applied to 
extracted content may be in part or whole derived 
from, or employ, content control information stored 
remotely from the VDE installation that performed 
the secure extraction such as at a remote server 
location. As with the content control information for 
most VDE managed content, features of the present 
invention allows the content's control information to: 


(a) "evolve," for example, the extractor of content 
may add new control methods and/or modify 
control parameter data, such as VDE 
application compliant methods, to the extent 
allowed by the content's in-place control 
information. Such new control information 
might specify, for example, who may use at least 
a portion of the new object, and/or how said at 
least a portion of said extracted content may be 
used (e.g. when at least a portion may be used, 
or what portion or quantity of portions may be 
used); 

(b) allow a user to combine additional content with 
at least a portion of said extracted content, such 
as material authored by the extractor and/or 
content (for example, images, video, audio, 


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and/or text) extracted from one or more other 
VDE container objects for placement directly 
into the new container; 

(c) allow a user to securely edit at least a portion of 
said content while maintaining said content in a 
secure form within said VDE content container; 

(d) append extracted content to a pre-existing VDE 
content container object and attach associated 
control information - in these cases, user added 
information may be secured, e.g., encrypted, in 
part or as a whole, and may be subject to usage 
and/or auditing control information that differs 
from the those applied to previously in place 
object content; 

(e) preserve VDE control over one or more portions 
of extracted content after various forms of usage 
of said portions, for example, maintain content 
in securely stored form while allowing 
"temporary" on screen display of content or 
allowing a software program to be maintained in 
secure form but transiently decrypt any 
encrypted executing portion of said program (all, 
or only a portion, of said program may be 
encrypted to secure the program). 

Generally, the extraction features of the present 
invention allow users to aggregate and/or disseminate 


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and/or otherwise use protected electronic content 
information extracted from content container sources 
while maintaining secure VDE capabilities thus 
preserving the rights of providers in said content 
information after various content usage processes. 

support the aggregation of portions of VDE controlled 
content, such portions being subject to differing VDE 
content container control information, wherein various 
of said portions may have been provided by 
independent, different content providers from one or 
more different locations remote to the user performing 
the aggregation. Such aggregation, in the preferred 
embodiment of the present invention, may involve 
preserving at least a portion of the control information 
(e.g., executable code such as load modules) for each of 
various of said portions by, for example, embedding 
some or all of such portions individually as VDE 
content container objects within an overall VDE 
content container and/or embedding some or all of 
such portions directly into a VDE content container. 
In the latter case, content control information of said 
content container may apply differing control 
information sets to various of such portions based 
upon said portions original control information 
requirements before aggregation. Each of such 
embedded VDE content containers may have its own 
control information in the form of one or more 
permissions records. Alternatively, a negotiation 
between control information associated with various 


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aggregated portions of electronic content, may produce 
a control information set that would govern some or 
all of the aggregated content portions. The VDE 
content control information produced by the 
negotiation may be uniform (such as having the same 
load modules and/or component assemblies, and/or it 
may apply differing such content control information 
to two or more portions that constitute an aggregation 
of VDE controlled content such as differing metering, 
budgeting, billing and/or payment models. For 
example, content usage payment may be automatically 
made, either through a clearinghouse, or directly, to 
different content providers for different potions. 

enable flexible metering of, or other collection of 
information related to, use of electronic content and/or 
electronic appliances. A feature of the present 
invention enables such flexibility of metering control 
mechanisms to accommodate a simultaneous, broad 
array of: (a) different parameters related to electronic 
information content use; (b) different increment units 
(bytes, documents, properties, paragraphs, images, 
etc.) and/or other organizations of such electronic 
content; and/or (c) different categories of user and/or 
VDE installation types, such as client organizations, 
departments, projects, networks, and/or individual 
users, etc. This feature of the present invention can 
be employed for content security, usage analysis (for 
example, market surveying), and/or compensation 
based upon the use and/or exposure to VDE managed 


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content. Such metering is a flexible basis for ensuring 
payment for content royalties, licensing, purchasing, 
and/or advertising. A feature of the present invention 
provides for payment means supporting flexible 
electronic currency and credit mechanisms, including 
the ability to securely maintain audit trails reflecting 
information related to use of such currency or credit. 
VDE supports multiple differing hierarchies of client 
organization control information wherein an 
organization client administrator distributes control 
information specifying the usage rights of 
departments, users, and/or projects. Likewise, a 
department (division) network manager can function 
as a distributor (budgets, access rights, etc.) for 
department networks, projects, and/or users, etc. 

provide scalable, integratable, standardized control 
means for use on electronic appliances ranging from 
inexpensive consumer (for example, television set-top 
appliances) and professional devices (and hand-held 
PDAs) to servers, mainframes, communication 
switches, etc. The scalable transaction 
management/auditing technology of the present 
invention will result in more efficient and reliable 
interoperability amongst devices functioning in 
electronic commerce and/or data security 
environments. As standardized physical containers 
have become essential to the shipping of physical 
goods around the world, allowing these physical 
containers to universally "fit" unloading equipment, 


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efficiently use truck and train space, and 
accommodate known arrays of objects (for example, 
boxes) in an efficient manner, so VDE electronic 
content containers may, as provided by the present 
invention, be able to efficiently move electronic 
information content (such as commercially published 
properties, electronic currency and credit, and content 
audit information), and associated content control 
information, around the world. Interoperability is 
fundamental to efficient electronic commerce. The 
design of the VDE foundation, VDE load modules, 
and VDE containers, are important features that 
enable the VDE node operating environment to be 
compatible with a very broad range of electronic 
appliances. The ability, for example, for control 
methods based on load modules to execute in very 
"small" and inexpensive secure sub-system 
environments, such as environments with very little 
read/write memory, while also being able to execute in 
large memory sub-systems that may be used in more 
expensive electronic appliances, supports consistency 
across many machines. This consistent VDE 
operating environment, including its control structures 
and container architecture, enables the use of 
standardized VDE content containers across a broad 
range of device types and host operating 
environments. Since VDE capabilities can be 
seamlessly integrated as extensions, additions, and/or 
modifications to fundamental capabilities of electronic 
appliances and host operating systems, VDE 


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containers, content control information, and the VDE 
foundation will be able to work with many device 
types and these device types will be able to 
consistently and efficiently interpret and enforce VDE 
control information. Through this integration users 
can also benefit from a transparent interaction with 
many of the capabilities of VDE. VDE integration 
with software operating on a host electronic appliance 
supports a variety of capabilities that would be 
unavailable or less secure without such integration. 
Through integration with one or more device 
applications and/or device operating environments, 
many capabilities of the present invention can be 
presented as inherent capabilities of a given electronic 
appliance, operating system, or appliance application. 
For example, features of the present invention include: 
(a) VDE system software to in part extend and/or 
modify host operating systems such that they 
possesses VDE capabilities, such as enabling secure 
transaction processing and electronic information 
storage; (b) one or more application programs that in 
part represent tools associated with VDE operation; 
and/or (c) code to be integrated into application 
programs, wherein such code incorporates references 
into VDE system software to integrate VDE 
capabilities and makes such applications VDE aware 
(for example, word processors, database retrieval 
applications, spreadsheets, multimedia presentation 
authoring tools, film editing software, music editing 
software such as MIDI applications and the like, 


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robotics control systems such as those associated with 
CAD/CAM environments and NCM software and the 
like, electronic mail systems, teleconferencing 
software, and other data authoring, creating, 
handling, and/or usage applications including 
combinations of the above). These one or more 
features (which may also be implemented in firmware 
or hardware) may be employed in conjunction with a 
VDE node secure hardware processing capability, such 
as a microcontrollers), microprocessors), other CPU(s) 
or other digital processing logic. 

employ audit reconciliation and usage pattern 
evaluation processes that assess, through certain, 
normally network based, transaction processing 
reconciliation and threshold checking activities, 
whether certain violations of security of a VDE 
arrangement have occurred. These processes are 
performed remote to VDE controlled content end-user 
VDE locations by assessing, for example, purchases, 
and/or requests, for electronic properties by a given 
VDE installation. Applications for such reconciliation 
activities include assessing whether the quantity of 
remotely delivered VDE controlled content 
corresponds to the amount of financial credit and/or 
electronic currency employed for the use of such 
content. A trusted organization can acquire 
information from content providers concerning the cost 
for content provided to a given VDE installation 
and/or user and compare this cost for content with the 


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credit and/or electronic currency disbursements for 
that installation and/or user. Inconsistencies in the 
amount of content delivered versus the amount of 
disbursement can prove, and/or indicate, depending on 
the circumstances, whether the local VDE installation 
has been, at least to some degree, compromised (for 
example, certain important system security functions, 
such as breaking encryption for at least some portion 
of the secure subsystem and/or VDE controlled content 
by uncovering one or more keys). Determining 
whether irregular patterns (e.g. unusually high 
demand) of content usage, or requests for delivery of 
certain kinds of VDE controlled information during a 
certain time period by one or more VDE installations 
and/or users (including, for example, groups of related 
users whose aggregate pattern of usage is suspicious) 
may also be useful in determining whether security at 
such one or more installations, and/or by such one or 
more users, has been compromised, particularly when 
used in combination with an assessment of electronic 
credit and/or currency provided to one or more VDE 
users and/or installations, by some or all of their 
credit and/or currency suppliers, compared with the 
disbursements made by such users and/or 
installations. 

support security techniques that materially increase 
the time required to "break" a system's integrity. This 
includes using a collection of techniques that 
minimizes the damage resulting from comprising some 


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aspect of the security features of the present 
inventions. 

provide a family of authoring, administrative, 
reporting, payment, and billing tool user applications 
that comprise components of the present invention's 
trusted/secure, universe wide, distributed transaction 
control and administration system. These components 
support VDE related: object creation (including 
placing control information on content), secure object 
distribution and management (including distribution 
control information, financial related, and other usage 
analysis), client internal VDE activities administration 
and control, security management, user interfaces, 
payment disbursement, and clearinghouse related 
functions. These components are designed to support 
highly secure, uniform, consistent, and standardized: 
electronic commerce and/or data security pathway(s) of 
handling, reporting, and/or payment; content control 
and administration; and human factors (e.g. user 
interfaces). 

support the operation of a plurality of clearinghouses, 
including, for example, both financial and user 
clearinghouse activities, such as those performed by a 
client administrator in a large organization to assist in 
the organization's use of a VDE arrangement, 
including usage information analysis, and control of 
VDE activities by individuals and groups of employees 
such as specifying budgets and the character of usage 


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rights available under VDE for certain groups of 
and/or individual, client personnel, subject to control 
information series to control information submitted by 
the client administrator. At a clearinghouse, one or 
more VDE installations may operate together with a 
trusted distributed database environment (which may 
include concurrent database processing means). A 
financial clearinghouse normally receives at its 
location securely delivered content usage information, 
and user requests (such as requests for further credit, 
electronic currency, and/or higher credit limit). 
Reporting of usage information and user requests can 
be used for supporting electronic currency, billing, 
payment and credit related activities, and/or for user 
profile analysis and/or broader market survey analysis 
and marketing (consolidated) list generation or other 
information derived, at least in part, from said usage 
information, this information can be provided to 
content providers or other parties, through secure, 
authenticated encrypted communication to the VDE 
installation secure subsystems. Clearinghouse 
processing means would normally be connected to 
specialized I/O means, which may include high speed 
telecommunication switching means that may be used 
for secure communications between a clearinghouse 
and other VDE pathway participants. 

securely support electronic currency and credit usage 
control, storage, and communication at, and between, 
VDE installations. VDE further supports automated 


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passing of electronic currency and/or credit 
information, including payment tokens (such as in the 
form of electronic currency or credit) or other payment 
information, through a pathway of payment, which 
said pathway may or may not be the same as a 
pathway for content usage information reporting. 
Such payment may be placed into a VDE container 
created automatically by a VDE installation in 
response to control information stipulating the 
"withdrawal" of credit or electronic currency from an 
electronic credit or currency account based upon an 
amount owed resulting from usage of VDE controlled 
electronic content and/or appliances. Payment credit 
or currency may then be automatically communicated 
in protected (at least in part encrypted) form through 
telecommunication of a VDE container to an 
appropriate party such as a clearinghouse, provider of 
original property content or appliance, or an agent for 
such provider (other than a clearinghouse). Payment 
information may be packaged in said VDE content 
container with, or without, related content usage 
information, such as metering information. An aspect 
of the present invention further enables certain 
information regarding currency use to be specified as 
unavailable to certain, some, or all VDE parties 
("conditionally* to fully anonymous currency) and/or 
further can regulate certain content information, such 
as currency and/or credit use related information 
(and/or other electronic information usage data) to be 
available only under certain strict circumstances, such 


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as a court order (which may itself require 
authorization through the use of a court controlled 
VDE installation that may be required to securely 
access "conditionally* anonymous information). 
Currency and credit information, under the preferred 
embodiment of the present invention, is treated as 
administrative content; 

support fingerprinting (also known as watermarking) 
for embedding in content such that when content 
protected under the present invention is released in 
clear form from a VDE object (displayed, printed, 
communicated, extracted, and/or saved), information 
representing the identification of the user and/or VDE 
installation responsible for transforming the content 
into clear form is embedded into the released content. 
Fingerprinting is useful in providing an ability to 
identify who extracted information in clear form a 
VDE container, or who made a copy of a VDE object or 
a portion of its contents. Since the identity of the user 
and/or other identifying information may be embedded 
in an obscure or generally concealed manner, in VDE 
container content and/or control information, potential 
copyright violators may be deterred from unauthorized 
extraction or copying. Fingerprinting normally is 
embedded into unencrypted electronic content or 
control information, though it can be embedded into 
encrypted content and later placed in unencrypted 
content in a secure VDE installation sub-system as 
the encrypted content carrying the fingerprinting 


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information is decrypted. Electronic information, such 
as the content of a VDE container, may be 
fingerprinted as it leaves a network (such as Internet) 
location bound for a receiving party. Such repository 
information may be maintained in unencrypted form 
prior to communication and be encrypted as it leaves 
the repository. Fingerprinting would preferably take 
place as the content leaves the repository, but before 
the encryption step. Encrypted repository content can 
be decrypted, for example in a secure VDE 
sub-system, fingerprint information can be inserted, 
and then the content can be re-encrypted for 
transmission. Embedding identification information of 
the intended recipient user and/or VDE installation 
into content as it leaves, for example, an Internet 
repository, would provide important information that 
would identify or assist in identifying any party that 
managed to compromise the security of a VDE 
installation or the delivered content. If a party 
produces an authorized clear form copy of VDE 
controlled content, including making unauthorized 
copies of an authorized clear form copy, fingerprint 
information would point back to that individual and/or 
his or her VDE installation. Such hidden information 
will act as a strong disincentive that should dissuade 
a substantial portion of potential content "pirates" 
from stealing other parties electronic information. 
Fingerprint information identifying a receiving party 
and/or VDE installation can be embedded into a VDE 
object before, or during, decryption, replication, or 


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communication of VDE content objects to receivers. 
Fingerprinting electronic content before it is encrypted 
for transfer to a customer or other user provides 
information that can be very useful for identifying who 
received certain content which may have then been 
distributed or made available in unencrypted form. 
This information would be useful in tracking who may 
have "broken" the security of a VDE installation and 
was illegally making certain electronic content 
available to others. Fingerprinting may provide 
additional, available information such as time and/or 
date of the release (for example extraction) of said 
content information. Locations for inserting 
fingerprints may be specified by VDE installation 
and/or content container control information. This 
information may specify that certain areas and/or 
precise locations within properties should be used for 
fingerprinting, such as one or more certain fields of 
information or information types. Fingerprinting 
information may be incorporated into a property by 
modifying in a normally undetectable way color 
frequency and/or the brightness of certain image 
pixels, by slightly modifying certain audio signals as 
to frequency, by modifying font character formation, 
etc. Fingerprint information, itself, should be 
encrypted so as to make it particularly difficult for 
tampered fingerprints to be interpreted as valid. 
Variations in fingerprint locations for different copies 
of the same property; "false" fingerprint information; 
and multiple copies of fingerprint information within a 


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specific property or other content which copies employ 
different fingerprinting techniques such as information 
distribution patterns, frequency and/or brightness 
manipulation, and encryption related techniques, are 
features of the present invention for increasing the 
difficulty of an unauthorized individual identifying 
fingerprint locations and erasing and/or modifying 
fingerprint information. 

provide smart object agents that can carry requests, 
data, and/or methods, including budgets, 
authorizations, credit or currency, and content. For 
example, smart objects may travel to and/or from 
remote information resource locations and fulfill 
requests for electronic information content. Smart 
objects can, for example, be transmitted to a remote 
location to perform a specified database search on 
behalf of a user or otherwise "intelligently" search 
remote one or more repositories of information for user 
desired information. After identifying desired 
information at one or more remote locations, by for 
example, performing one or more database searches, 
a smart object may return via communication to the 
user in the form of a secure "return object" containing 
retrieved information. A user may be charged for the 
remote retrieving of information, the returning of 
information to the user's VDE installation, and/or the 
use of such information. In the latter case, a user 
may be charged only for the information in the return 
object that the user actually uses. Smart objects may 


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have the means to request use of one or more services 
and/or resources. Services include locating other 
services and/or resources such as information 
resources, language or format translation, processing, 
credit (or additional credit) authorization, etc. 
Resources include reference databases, networks, high 
powered or specialized computing resources (the smart 
object may carry information to another computer to 
be efficiently processed and then return the 
information to the sending VDE installation), remote 
object repositories, etc. Smart objects can make 
efficient use of remote resources (e.g. centralized 
databases, super computers, etc.) while providing a 
secure means for charging users based on information 
and/or resources actually used. 

support both "translations" of VDE electronic 
agreements elements into modern language printed 
agreement elements (such as English language 
agreements) and translations of electronic rights 
protection/transaction management modern language 
agreement elements to electronic VDE agreement 
elements. This feature requires maintaining a library 
of textual language that corresponds to VDE load 
modules and/or methods and/or component assemblies. 
As VDE methods are proposed and/or employed for 
VDE agreements, a listing of textual terms and 
conditions can be produced by a VDE user application 
which, in a preferred embodiment, provides phrases, 
sentences and/or paragraphs that have been stored 


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and correspond to said methods and/or assemblies. 
This feature preferably employs artificial intelligence 
capabilities to analyze and automatically determine, 
and/or assist one or more users to determine, the 
proper order and relationship between the library 
elements corresponding to the chosen methods and/or 
assemblies so as to compose some or all portions of a 
legal or descriptive document. One or more users, 
and/or preferably an attorney (if the document a legal, 
binding agreement), would review the generated 
document material upon completion and employ such 
additional textual information and/or editing as 
necessary to describe non electronic transaction 
elements of the agreement and make any other 
improvements that may be necessary. These features 
further support employing modern language tools that 
allow one or more users to make selections from 
choices and provide answers to questions and to 
produce a VDE electronic agreement from such a 
process. This process can be interactive and the VDE 
agreement formulation process may employ artificial 
intelligence expert system technology that learns from 
responses and, where appropriate and based at least 
in part on said responses, provides further choices 
and/or questions which "evolves" the desired VDE 
electronic agreement. 

support the use of multiple VDE secure subsystems in 
a single VDE installation. Various security and/or 
performance advantages may be realized by employing 


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a distributed VDE design within a single VDE 
installation. For example, designing a hardware 
based VDE secure subsystem into an electronic 
appliance VDE display device, and designing said 
subsystem's integration with said display device so 
that it is as close as possible to the point of display, 
will increase the security for video materials by 
making it materially more difficult to "steal" decrypted 
video information as it moves from outside to inside 
the video system. Ideally, for example, a VDE secure 
hardware module would be in the same physical 
package as the actual display monitor, such as within 
the packaging of a video monitor or other display 
device, and such device would be designed, to the 
extent commercially practical, to be as tamper 
resistant as reasonable. As another example, 
embedding a VDE hardware module into an I/O 
peripheral may have certain advantages from the 
standpoint of overall system throughput. If multiple 
VDE instances are employed within the same VDE 
installation, these instances will ideally share 
resources to the extent practical, such as VDE 
instances storing certain control information and 
content and/or appliance usage information on the 
same mass storage device and in the same VDE 
management database. 

requiring reporting and payment compliance by 
employing exhaustion of budgets and time ageing of 
keys. For example, a VDE commercial arrangement 


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and associated content control information may 
involve a content provider's content and the use of 
clearinghouse credit for payment for end-user usage of 
said content. Control information regarding said 
arrangement may be delivered to a user's (of said 
content) VDE installation and/or said financial 
clearinghouse's VDE installation. Said control 
information might require said clearinghouse to 
prepare and telecommunicate to said content provider 
both content usage based information in a certain 
form, and content usage payment in the form of 
electronic credit (such credit might be "owned" by the 
provider after receipt and used in lieu of the 
availability or adequacy of electronic currency) and/or 
electronic currency. This delivery of information and 
payment may employ trusted VDE installation secure 
subsystems to securely, and in some embodiments, 
automatically, provide in the manner specified by said 
control information, said usage information and 
payment content. Features of the present invention 
help ensure that a requirement that a clearinghouse 
report such usage information and payment content 
will be observed. For example, if one participant to a 
VDE electronic agreement fails to observe such 
information reporting and/or paying obligation, 
another participant can stop the delinquent party from 
successfully participating in VDE activities related to 
such agreement. For example, if required usage 
information and payment was not reported as 
specified by content control information, the "injured" 


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party can fail to provide, through failing to securely 
communicate from his VDE installation secure 
subsystem, one or more pieces of secure information 
necessary for the continuance of one or more critical 
processes. For example, failure to report information 
and/or payment from a clearinghouse to a content 
provider (as well as any security failures or other 
disturbing irregularities) can result in the content 
provider not providing key and/or budget refresh 
information to the clearinghouse, which information 
can be necessary to authorize use of the 
clearinghouse's credit for usage of the provider's 
content and which the clearinghouse would 
communicate to end-user's during a content usage 
reporting communication between the clearinghouse 
and end-user. As another example, a distributor that 
foiled to make payments and/or report usage 
information to a content provider might find that their 
budget for creating permissions records to distribute 
the content provider's content to users, and/or a 
security budget limiting one or more other aspect of 
their use of the provider's content, are not being 
refreshed by the content provider, once exhausted or 
timed-out (for example, at a predetermined date). In 
these and other cases, the offended party might decide 
not to refresh time ageing keys that had "aged out." 
Such a use of time aged keys has a similar impact as 
failing to refresh budgets or time-aged authorizations. 


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support smart card implementations of the present 
invention in the form of portable electronic appliances, 
including cards that can be employed as secure credit, 
banking, and/or money cards. A feature of the present 
invention is the use of portable VDEs as transaction 
cards at retail and other establishments, wherein such 
cards can "dock" with an establishment terminal that 
has a VDE secure sub-system and/or an online 
connection to a VDE secure and/or otherwise secure 
and compatible subsystem, such as a "trusted" 
financial clearinghouse (e.g., VISA, Mastercard). The 
VDE card and the terminal (and/or online connection) 
can securely exchange information related to a 
transaction, with credit and/or electronic currency 
being transferred to a merchant and/or clearinghouse 
and transaction information flowing back to the card. 
Such a card can be used for transaction activities of all 
sorts. A docking station, such as a PCMCIA connector 
on an electronic appliance, such as a personal 
computer, can receive a consumer's VDE card at home. 
Such a station/card combination can be used for 
on-line transactions in the same manner as a VDE 
installation that is permanently installed in such an 
electronic appliance. The card can be used as an 
"electronic wallet n and contain electronic currency as 
well as credit provided by a clearinghouse. The card 
can act as a convergence point for financial activities 
of a consumer regarding many, if not all, merchant, 
banking, and on-line financial transactions, including 
supporting home banking activities. A consumer can 


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receive his paycheck and/or investment earnings 
and/or "authentic" VDE content container secured 
detailed information on such receipts, through on-line 
connections. A user can send digital currency to 
another party with a VDE arrangement, including 
giving away such currency. A VDE card can retain 
details of transactions in a highly secure and database 
organized fashion so that financially related 
information is both consolidated and very easily 
retrieved and/or analyzed. Because of the VDE 
security, including use of effective encryption, 
authentication, digital signaturing, and secure 
database structures, the records contained within a 
VDE card arrangement may be accepted as valid 
transaction records for government and/or corporate 
recordkeeping requirements. In some embodiments of 
the present invention a VDE card may employ docking 
station and/or electronic appliance storage means 
and/or share other VDE arrangement means local to 
said appliance and/or available across a network, to 
augment the information storage capacity of the VDE 
card, by for example, storing dated, and/or archived, 
backup information. Taxes relating to some or all of 
an individual's financial activities may be 
automatically computed based on "authentic" 
information securely stored and available to said VDE 
card. Said information may be stored in said card, in 
said docking station, in an associated electronic 
appliance, and/or other device operatively attached 
thereto, and/or remotely, such as at a remote server 


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site. A card's data, e.g. transaction history, can be 
backed up to an individual's personal computer or 
other electronic appliance and such an appliance may 
have an integrated VDE installation of its own. A 
current transaction, recent transactions (for 
redundancy), or all or other selected card data may be 
backed up to a remote backup repository, such a VDE 
compatible repository at a financial clearinghouse, 
during each or periodic docking for a financial 
transaction and/or information communication such as 
a user/merchant transaction. Backing up at least the 
current transaction during a connection with another 
party's VDE installation (for example a VDE 
installation that is also on a financial or general 
purpose electronic network), by posting transaction 
information to a remote clearinghouse and/or bank, 
can ensure that sufficient backup is conducted to 
enable complete reconstruction of VDE card internal 
information in the event of a card failure or loss. 

support certification processes that ensure authorized 
interoperability between various VDE installations so 
as to prevent VDE arrangements and/or installations 
that unacceptably deviate in specification protocols 
from other VDE arrangements and/or installations 
from interoperating in a manner that may introduce 
security (integrity and/or confidentiality of VDE 
secured information), process control, and/or software 
compatibility problems. Certification validates the 
identity of VDE installations and/or their components, 


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as well as VDE users. Certification data can also 
serve as information that contributes to determining 
the decommissioning or other change related to VDE 
sites. 

support the separation of fundamental transaction 
control processes through the use of event (triggered) 
based method control mechanisms. These event 
methods trigger one or more other VDE methods 

(which are available to a secure VDE sub-system) and 
are used to carry out VDE managed transaction 
related processing. These triggered methods include 
independently (separably) and securely processable 
component billing management methods, budgeting 
management methods, metering management 
methods, and related auditing management processes. 
As a result of this feature of the present invention, 
independent triggering of metering, auditing, billing, 
and budgeting methods, the present invention is able 
to efficiently, concurrently support multiple financial 
currencies (e.g. dollars, marks, yen) and content 
related budgets, and/or billing increments as well as 
very flexible content distribution models. 

support, complete, modular separation of the control 
structures related to (1) content event triggering, (2) 
auditing, (3) budgeting (including specifying no right 
of use or unlimited right of use), (4) billing, and (5) 
user identity (VDE installation, client name, 
department, network, and/or user, etc.). The 


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independence of these VDE control structures provides 
a flexible system which allows plural relationships 
between two or more of these structures, for example, 
the ability to associate a financial budget with 
different event trigger structures (that are put in place 
to enable controlling content based on its logical 
portions). Without such separation between these 
basic VDE capabilities, it would be more difficult to 
efficiently maintain separate metering, budgeting, 
identification, and/or billing activities which involve 
the same, differing (including overlapping), or entirely 
different, portions of content for metering, billing, 
budgeting, and user identification, for example, paying 
fees associated with usage of content, performing 
home banking, managing advertising services, etc. 
VDE modular separation of these basic capabilities 
supports the programming of plural, "arbitrary" 
relationships between one or differing content portions 
(and/or portion units) and budgeting, auditing, and/or 
billing control information. For example, under VDE, 
a budget limit of $200 dollars or 300 German Marks a 
month may be enforced for decryption of a certain 
database and 2 U.S. Dollars or 3 German Marks may 
be charged for each record of said database decrypted 
(depending on user selected currency). Such usage 
can be metered while an additional audit for user 
profile purposes can be prepared recording the identity 
of each filed displayed. Additionally, further metering 
can be conducted regarding the number of said 
database bytes that have been decrypted, and a 


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related security budget may prevent the decrypting of 
more than 5% of the total bytes of said database per 
year. The user may also, under VDE (if allowed by 
senior control information), collect audit information 
reflecting usage of database fields by different 
individuals and client organization departments and 
ensure that differing rights of access and differing 
budgets limiting database usage can be applied to 
these client individuals and groups. Enabling content 
providers and users to practically employ such diverse 
sets of user identification, metering, budgeting, and 
billing control information results, in part, from the 
use of such independent control capabilities. As a 
result, VDE can support great configurability in 
creation of plural control models applied to the same 
electronic property and the same and/or plural control 
models applied to differing or entirely different 
content models (for example, home banking versus 
electronic shopping). 

Methods, Other Control Information, and VDE Objects 

VDE control information (e.g., methods) that collectively 
control use of VDE managed properties (database, document, 
individual commercial product), are either shipped with the 
content itself (for example, in a content container) and/or one or 
more portions of such control information is shipped to distributors 
and/or other users in separably deliverable -administrative 
objects." A subset of the methods for a property may in part be 
delivered with each property while one or more other subsets of 
methods can be delivered separately to a user or otherwise made 


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available for use (such as being available remotely by 
telecommunication means). Required methods (methods listed as 
required for property and/or appliance use) must be available as 
specified if VDE controlled content (such as intellectual property 
5 distributed within a VDE content container) is to be used. 

Methods that control content may apply to a plurality of VDE 
container objects, such as a class or other grouping of such objects. 
Methods may also be required by certain users or classes of users 
and/or VDE installations and/or classes of installations for such 
10 parties to use one or more specific, or classes of, objects. 

A feature of VDE provided by the present invention is that 
certain one or more methods can be specified as required in order 
for a VDE installation and/or user to be able to use certain and/or 

15 all content. For example, a distributor of a certain type of content 

might be allowed by "senior" participants (by content creators, for 
example) to require a method which prohibits end-users from 
electronically saving decrypted content, a provider of credit for 
VDE transactions might require an audit method that records the 

20 time of an electronic purchase, and/or a user might require a 

method that summarizes usage information for reporting to a 
clearinghouse (e.g. billing information) in a way that does not 
convey confidential, personal information regarding detailed usage 
behavior. 

25 

A further feature of VDE provided by the present invention 
is that creators, distributors, and users of content can select from 
among a set of predefined methods (if available) to control 
container content usage and distribution functions and/or they 
30 may have the right to provide new customized methods to control 


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at least certain usage functions (such "new" methods may be 
required to be certified for trustedness and interoperability to the 
VDE installation and/or for of a group of VDE applications). As a 
result, VDE provides a very high degree of configurability with 
respect to how the distribution and other usage of each property or 
object (or one or more portions of objects or properties as desired 
and/or applicable) will be controlled. Each VDE participant in a 
VDE pathway of content control information may set methods for 
some or all of the content in a VDE container, so long as such 
control information does not conflict with senior control 
information already in place with respect to: 


(1) certain or all VDE managed content, 

(2) certain one or more VDE users and/or groupings of 
users, 

(3) certain one or more VDE nodes and/or groupings of 
nodes, and/or 

(4) certain one or more VDE applications and/or 
arrangements. 

For example, a content creator's VDE control information for 
certain content can take precedence over other submitted VDE 
participant control information and, for example, if allowed by 
senior control information, a content distributor's control 
information may itself take precedence over a client 
administrator's control information, which may take precedence 
over an end-user's control information. A path of distribution 


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participant's ability to set such electronic content control 
information can be limited to certain control information (for 
example, method mediating data such as pricing and/or sales 
dates) or it may be limited only to the extent that one or more of 
the participant's proposed control information conflicts with 
control information set by senior control information submitted 
previously by participants in a chain of handling of the property, 
or managed in said participant's VDE secure subsystem. 

VDE control information may, in part or in full, (a) 
represent control information directly put in place by VDE content 
control information pathway participants, and/or (b) comprise 
control information put in place by such a participant on behalf of 
a party who does not directly handle electronic content (or 
electronic appliance) permissions records information (for example 
control information inserted by a participant on behalf of a 
financial clearinghouse or government agency). Such control 
information methods (and/or load modules and/or mediating data 
and/or component assemblies) may also be put in place by either 
an electronic automated, or a semi-automated and human assisted, 
control information (control set) negotiating process that assesses 
whether the use of one or more pieces of submitted control 
information will be integrated into and/or replace existing control 
information (and/or chooses between alternative control 
information based upon interaction with in-place control 
information) and how such control information may be used. 

Control information may be provided by a party who does 
not directly participate in the handling of electronic content 
(and/or appliance) and/or control information for such content 


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(and/or appliance). Such control information may be provided in 
secure form using VDE installation secure sub-system managed 
communications (including, for example, authenticating the 
deliverer of at least in part encrypted control information) between 
such not directly participating one or more parties* VDE 
installation secure subsystems, and a pathway of VDE content 
control information participant's VDE installation secure 
subsystem. This control information may relate to, for example, 
the right to access credit supplied by a financial services provider, 
the enforcement of regulations or laws enacted by a government 
agency, or the requirements of a customer of VDE managed 
content usage information (reflecting usage of content by one or 
more parties other than such customer) relating to the creation, 
handling and/or manner of reporting of usage information received 
by such customer. Such control information may, for example, 
enforce societal requirements such as laws related to electronic 
commerce. 

VDE content control information may apply differently to 
different pathway of content and/or control information handling 
participants. Furthermore, permissions records rights may be 
added, altered, and/or removed by a VDE participant if they are 
allowed to take such action. Rights of VDE participants may be 
denned in relation to specific parties and/or categories of parties 
and/or other groups of parties in a chain of handling of content 
and/or content control information (e.g., permissions records). 
Modifications to control information that may be made by a given, 
eligible party or parties, may be limited in the number of 
modifications, and/or degree of modification, they may make. 


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At least one secure subsystem in electronic appliances of 
creators, distributors, auditors, clearinghouses, client 
administrators, and end-users (understanding that two or more 
the above classifications may describe a single user) provides a 
"sufficiently" secure (for the intended applications) environment 
for: 

1. Decrypting properties and control information; 


2. Storing control and metering related information; 


3. Managing communications; 


4. Processing core control programs, along with 

associated data, that constitute control information f< 
electronic content and/or appliance rights protection, 
including the enforcing of preferences and 
requirements of VDE participants. 


Normally, most usage, audit, reporting, payment, and 
distribution control methods are themselves at least in part 
encrypted and are executed by the secure subsystem of a VDE 
installation. Thus, for example, billing and metering records can 
be securely generated and updated, and encryption and decryption 
keys are securely utilized, within a secure subsystem. Since VDE 
also employs secure (e.g. encrypted and authenticated) 
communications when passing information between the participant 
location (nodes) secure subsystems of a VDE arrangement, 
important components of a VDE electronic agreement can be 
reliably enforced with sufficient security (sufficiently trusted) for 


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the intended commercial purposes. A VDE electronic agreement 
for a value chain can be composed, at least in part, of one or more 
subagreements between one or more subsets of the value cham 
participants. These subagreements are comprised of one or more 
electronic contract "compliance" elements (methods including 
associated parameter data) that ensure the protection of the rights 
of VDE participants. 

The degree of trustedness of a VDE arrangement will be 
primarily based on whether hardware SPUs are employed at 
participant location secure subsystems and the effectiveness of the 
SPU hardware security architecture, software security techniques 
when an SPU is emulated in software, and the encryption 
algorithm(s) and keys that are employed for securing content, 
control information, communications, and access to VDE node 
(VDE installation) secure subsystems. Physical facility and user 
identity authentication security procedures may be used instead of 
hardware SPUs at certain nodes, such as at an established 
financial clearinghouse, where such procedures may provide 
sufficient security for trusted interoperability with a VDE 
arrangement employing hardware SPUs at user nodes. 

The updating of property management files at each location 
of a VDE arrangement, to accommodate new or modified control 
information, is performed in the VDE secure subsystem and under 
the control of secure management file updating programs executed 
by the protected subsystem. Since all secure communications are 
at least in part encrypted and the processing inside the secure 
subsystem is concealed from outside observation and interference, 
the present invention ensures that content control information can 


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be enforced. As a result, the creator and/or distributor and/or 
client administrator and/or other contributor of secure control 
information for each property (for example, an end-user restricting 
the kind of audit information he or she will allow to be reported 
and/or a financial clearinghouse establishing certain criteria for 
use of its credit for payment for use of distributed content) can be 
confident that their contributed and accepted control information 
will be enforced (within the security limitations of a given VDE 
security implementation design). This control information can 
determine, for example: 

(1) How and/or to whom electronic content can be 
provided, for example, how an electronic property can 
be distributed; 

(2) How one or more objects and/or properties, or portions 
of an object or property, can be directly used, such as 
decrypted, displayed, printed, etc; 

(3) How payment for usage of such content and/or content 
portions may or must be handled; and 

(4) How audit information about usage information 
related to at least a portion of a property should be 
collected, reported, and/or used. 

Seniority of contributed control information, including 
resolution of conflicts between content control information 
submitted by multiple parties, is normally established by: 


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(1) the sequence in which control information is put in 
place by various parties (in place control information 
normally takes precedence over subsequently 
submitted control information), 

(2) the specifics of VDE content and/or appliance control 
information. For example, in-place control 
information can stipulate which subsequent one or 
more piece of control from one or more parties or class 
of parties will take precedence over control 
information submitted by one or more yet different 
parties and/or classes of parties, and/or 

(3) negotiation between control information sets from 
plural parties, which negotiation establishes what 
control information shall constitute the resulting 
control information set for a given piece of VDE 
managed content and/or VDE installation. 

Electronic Agreements and Rights Protection 

An important feature of VDE is that it can be used to assure 
the administration of, and adequacy of security and rights 
protection for, electronic agreements implemented through the use 
of the present invention. Such agreements may involve one or 
more of: 

(1) creators, publishers, and other distributors, of 
electronic information, 


(2) 


financial service (e.g. credit) providers, 


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(3) users of (other than financial service providers) 
information arising from content usage such as 
content specific demographic information and user 
specific descriptive information. Such users may 
include market analysts, marketing list compilers for 
direct and directed marketing, and government 
agencies, 

(4) end users of content, 

(5) infrastructure service and device providers such as 
telecommunication companies and hardware 
manufacturers (semiconductor and electronic 
appliance and/or other computer system 
manufacturers) who receive compensation based upon 
the use of their services and/or devices, and 

(6) certain parties described by electronic information. 

VDE supports commercially secure "extended" value chain 
electronic agreements- VDE can be configured to support the 
various underlying agreements between parties that comprise this 
extended agreement. These agreements can define important 
electronic commerce considerations including: 

(1) security, 

(2) content use control, including electronic distribution, 


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(3) privacy (regarding, for example, information 
concerning parties described by medical, credit, tax, 
personal, and/or of other forms of confidential 
information), 

(4) management of financial processes, and 

(5) pathways of handling for electronic content, content 
and/or appliance control information, electronic 
content and/or appliance usage information and 
payment and/or credit. 

VDE agreements may define the electronic commerce 
relationship of two or more parties of a value chain, but such 
agreements may, at times, not directly obligate or otherwise 
directly involve other VDE value chain participants. For example, 
an electronic agreement between a content creator and a 
distributor may establish both the price to the distributor for a 
creator's content (such as for a property distributed in a VDE 
container object) and the number of copies of this object that this 
distributor may distribute to end-users over a given period of time. 
In a second agreement, a value chain end-user may be involved in 
a three party agreement in which the end-user agrees to certain 
requirements for using the distributed product such as accepting 
distributor charges for content use and agreeing to observe the 
copyright rights of the creator. A third agreement might exist 
between the distributor and a financial clearinghouse that allows 
the distributor to employ the clearinghouse's credit for payment for 
the product if the end-user has a separate (fourth) agreement 
directly with the clearinghouse extending credit to the end-user. A 


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fifth, evolving agreement may develop between all value chain 
participants as content control information passes along its chain 
of handling. This evolving agreement can establish the rights of 
all parties to content usage information, including, for example, 
the nature of information to be received by each party and the 
pathway of handling of content usage information and related 
procedures. A sixth agreement in this example, may involve all 
parties to the agreement and establishes certain general 
assumptions, such as security techniques and degree of 
trustedness (for example, commercial integrity of the system may 
require each VDE installation secure subsystem to electronically 
warrant that their VDE node meets certain interoperability 
requirements). In the above example, these six agreements could 
comprise agreements of an extended agreement for this 
commercial value chain instance. 

VDE agreements support evolving ("living") electronic 
agreement arrangements that can be modified by current and/or 
new participants through very simple to sophisticated 
"negotiations" between newly proposed content control information 
interacting with control information already in place and/or by 
negotiation between concurrently proposed content control 
information submitted by a plurality of parties. A given model 
may be asynchronously and progressively modified over time in 
accordance with existing senior rules and such modification may 
be applied to all, to classes of, and/or to specific content, and/or to 
classes and/or specific users and/or user nodes. A given piece of 
content may be subject to different control information at different 
times or places of handling, depending on the evolution of its 
content control information (and/or on differing, applicable VDE 


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installation content control information). The evolution of control 
information can occur during the passing along of one or more 
VDE control information containing objects, that is control 
information may be modified at one or more points along a chain 
of control information handling, so long as such modification is 
allowed. As a result, VDE managed content may have different 
control information applied at both different "locations" in a chain 
of content handling and at similar locations in differing chains of 
the handling of such content. Such different application of control 
information may also result from content control information 
specifying that a certain party or group of parties shall be subject 
to content control information that differs from another party or 
group of parties. For example, content control information for a 
given piece of content may be stipulated as senior information and 
therefore not changeable, might be put in place by a content 
creator and might stipulate that national distributors of a given 
piece of their content may be permitted to make 100,000 copies per 
calendar quarter, so long as such copies are provided to boni fide 
end-users, but may pass only a single copy of such content to a 
local retailers and the control information limits such a retailer to 
making no more than 1,000 copies per month for retail sales to 
end-users. In addition, for example, an end-user of such content 
might be limited by the same content control information to 
making three copies of such content, one for each of three different 
computers he or she uses (one desktop computer at work, one for a 
desktop computer at home, and one for a portable computer). 

Electronic agreements supported by the preferred 
embodiment of the present invention can vary from very simple to 
very elaborate. They can support widely diverse information 


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management models that provide for electronic information 
security, usage administration, and communication and may 
support: 


(a) secure electronic distribution of information, for 
example commercial literary properties, 

(b) secure electronic information usage monitoring and 
10 reporting, 

(c) secure financial transaction capabilities related to 
both electronic information and/or appliance usage 
and other electronic credit and/or currency usage and 

15 administration capabilities, 

(d) privacy protection for usage information a user does 
not wish to release, and 

20 (e) 'living* electronic information content dissemination 

models that flexibly accommodate: 

(1) a breadth of participants, 

25 (2) one or more pathways (chains) for: the handling 

of content, content and/or appliance control 
information, reporting of content and/or 
appliance usage related information, and/or 
payment, 

30 


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(3) supporting an evolution of terms and conditions 
incorporated into content control information, 
including use of electronic negotiation 
capabilities, 

(4) support the combination of multiple pieces of 
content to form new content aggregations, and 

(5) multiple concurrent models. 


Secure Processing Units 

An important part of VDE provided by the present invention 
is the core secure transaction control arrangement, herein called 
an SPU (or SPUs), that typically must be present in each user's 
computer, other electronic appliance, or network. SPUs provide a 
trusted environment for generating decryption keys, encrypting 
and decrypting information, managing the secure communication 
of keys and other information between electronic appliances (i.e. 
between VDE installations and/or between plural VDE instances 
within a single VDE installation), securely accumulating and 
managing audit trail, reporting, and budget information in secure 
and/or non-secure non-volatile memory, maintaining a secure 
database of control information management instructions, and 
providing a secure environment for performing certain other 
control and administrative functions. 

A hardware SPU (rather than a software emulation) within 
a VDE node is necessary if a highly trusted environment for 
performing certain VDE activities is required. Such a trusted 
environment may be created through the use of certain control 


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software, one or more tamper resistant hardware modules such as 
a semiconductor or semiconductor chipset (including, for example, 
a tamper resistant hardware electronic appliance peripheral 
device), for use within, and/or operatively connected to, an 
5 electronic appliance. With the present invention, the trustedness 

of a hardware SPU can be enhanced by enclosing some or all of its 
hardware elements within tamper resistant packaging and/or by 
employing other tamper resisting techniques (e.g. microfusing 
and/or thin wire detection techniques). A trusted environment of 
10 the present invention implemented, in part, through the use of 

tamper resistant semiconductor design, contains control logic, such 
as a microprocessor, that securely executes VDE processes. 

A VDE node's hardware SPU is a core component of a VDE 

15 secure subsystem and may employ some or all of an electronic 

appliance's primary control logic, such as a microcontroller, 
microcomputer or other CPU arrangement. This primary control 
logic may be otherwise employed for non VDE purposes such as 
the control of some or all of an electronic appliance's non-VDE 

20 functions. When operating in a hardware SPU mode, said primary 

control logic must be sufficiently secure so as to protect and 
conceal important VDE processes. For example, a hardware SPU 
may employ a host electronic appliance microcomputer operating 
in protected mode while performing VDE related activities, thus 

25 allowing portions of VDE processes to execute with a certain 

degree of security. This alternate embodiment is in contrast to the 
preferred embodiment wherein a trusted environment is created 
using a combination of one or more tamper resistant 
semiconductors that are not part of said primary control logic. In 

30 either embodiment, certain control information (software and 


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parameter data) must be securely maintained within the SPU, and 
further control information can be stored externally and securely 
(e.g. in encrypted and tagged form) and loaded into said hardware 
SPU when needed. In many cases, and in particular with 
microcomputers, the preferred embodiment approach of employing 
special purpose secure hardware for executing said VDE processes, 
rather than using said primary control logic, may be more secure 
and efficient. The level of security and tamper resistance required 
for trusted SPU hardware processes depends on the commercial 
requirements of particular markets or market niches, and may 
vary widely. 


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WRTF.'F DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS 

These and other features and advantages provided by the 
present invention(s) may be better and more completely 
5 understood by referring to the following detailed description of 

presently preferred example embodiments in connection with the 
drawings, of which: 

FIGURE 1 illustrates an example of a "Virtual Distribution 
10 Environment" provided in accordance with a preferred 

example/embodiment of this invention; 

FIGURE 1A is a more detailed illustration of an example of 
the "Information Utility" shown in FIGURE 1; 


15 


20 


FIGURE 2 illustrates an example of a chain of handling and 
control; 

FIGURE 2A illustrates one example of how rules and control 
information may persist from one participant to another in the 
Figure 2 chain of handling and control; 

FIGURE 3 shows one example of different control 
information that may be provided; 


25 


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FIGURE 4 illustrates examples of some different types of 
rules and/or control information; 

FIGURES 5A and 5B show an example of an "object"; 

FIGURE 6 shows an example of a Secure Processing Unit 
("SPU"); 

FIGURE 7 shows an example of an electronic appliance; 

FIGURE 8 is a more detailed block diagram of an example 
of the electronic appliance shown in FIGURE 7; 

FIGURE 9 is a detailed view of an example of the Secure 
Processing Unit (SPU) shown in FIGURES 6 and 8; 

FIGURE 10 shows an example of a "Rights Operating 
System" ("ROS") architecture provided by the Virtual Distribution 
Environment; 

FIGURES 11A-11C show examples of functional 
relationship(s) between applications and the Rights Operating 
System; 

FIGURES 11D-11J show examples of "components" and 
"component assemblies"; 


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FIGURE 12 is a more detailed diagram of an example of the 
Rights Operating System shown in FIGURE 10; 

FIGURE 12A shows an example of how "objects" can be 
created; 

FIGURE 13 is a detailed block diagram of an example the 
software architecture for a "protected processing environment" 
shown in FIGURE 12; 

FIGURES 14A-14C are examples of SPU memory maps 
provided by the protected processing environment shown in 
FIGURE 13; 

FIGURE 15 illustrates an example of how the channel 
services manager and load module execution manager of FIGURE 
13 can support a channel; 

FIGURE 15A is an example of a channel header and 
channel detail records shown in FIGURE 15; 

FIGURE 15B is a flowchart of an example of program 
control steps that may be performed by the FIGURE 13 protected 
processing environment to create a channel; 


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FIGURE 16 is a block diagram of an example of a secure 
data base structure; 

FIGURE 17 is an illustration of an example of a logical 
5 object structure; 

FIGURE 18 shows an example of a stationary object 
structure; 

10 FIGURE 19 shows an example of a traveling object 

structure; 

FIGURE 20 shows an example of a content object structure; 

15 FIGURE 21 shows an example of an administrative object 

structure; 

FIGURE 22 shows an example of a method core structure; 

20 FIGURE 23 shows an example of a load module structure; 

FIGURE 24 shows an example of a User Data Element 
(UDE) and/or Method Data Element (MDE) structure; 

25 FIGURES 25A-25C show examples of "map meters"; 


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FIGURE 26 shows an example of a permissions record 
(PERC) structure; 

FIGURES 26A and 26B together show a more detailed 
example of a permissions record structure; 

FIGURE 27 shows an example of a shipping table structure; 

FIGURE 28 shows an example of a receiving table structure; 

FIGURE 29 shows an example of an administrative event 
log structure; 

FIGURE 30 shows an example inter-relationship between 
and use of the object registration table, subject table and user 
rights table shown in the FIGURE 16 secure database; 

FIGURE 31 is a more detailed example of an object 
registration table shown in FIGURE 16; 

FIGURE 32 is a more detailed example of subject table 
shown in FIGURE 16; 

FIGURE 33 is a more detailed example of a user rights table 
shown in FIGURE 16; 


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5 


10 


FIGURE 34 shows a specific example of how a site record 
table and group record table may track portions of the secure 
database shown in FIGURE 16; 

FIGURE 34A is an example of a FIGURE 34 site record 
table structure; 

FIGURE 34B is an example of a FIGURE 34 group record 
table structure; 

FIGURE 35 shows an example of a process for updating the 
secure database; 

FIGURE 36 shows an example of how new elements may be 
15 inserted into the FIGURE 16 secure data base; 

FIGURE 37 shows an example of how an element of the 
secure database may be accessed; 

20 FIGURE 38 is a flowchart example of how to protect a 

secure database element; 

FIGURE 39 is a flowchart example of how to back up a 
secure database; 

25 


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FIGURE 40 is a flowchart example of how to recover a 
secure database from a backup; 

FIGURES 41A-41D are a set of examples showing how a 
"chain of handling and control" may be enabled using "reciprocal 
methods"; 

FIGURES 42A-42D show an example of a "reciprocal" 
BUDGET method; 

FIGURES 43A-43D show an example of a "reciprocal" 
REGISTER method; 

FIGURES 44A-44C show an example of a "reciprocal" 
AUDIT method; 

FIGURES 45-48 show examples of several methods being 
used together to control release of content or other information; 

FIGURES 49, 49A-49F show an example OPEN method; 

FIGURES 50, 50A-50F show an example of a READ method; 

FIGURES 51, 51A-51F show an example of a WRITE 
method; 


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FIGURE 52 shows an example of a CLOSE method; 

FIGURES 53A-53B show an example of an EVENT method; 

FIGURE 53C shows an example of a BILLING method; 

FIGURE 54 shows an example of an ACCESS method; 

FIGURES 55A-55B show examples of DECRYPT and 
ENCRYPT methods; 

FIGURE 56 shows an example of a CONTENT method; 

FIGURES 57A and 57B show examples of EXTRACT and 
EMBED methods; 

FIGURE 58A shows an example of an OBSCURE method; 

FIGURES 58B, 58C show examples of a FINGERPRINT 
method; 

FIGURE 59 shows an example of a DESTROY method; 
FIGURE 60 shows an example of a PANIC method; 
FIGURE 61 shows an example of a METER method; 

. 124 - (0061603.01) 


FIGURE 62 shows an example of a key "convolution" 
process; 

FIGURE 63 shows an example of how different keys may be 
generated using a key convolution process to determine a "true" 
key; 

FIGURES 64 and 65 show an example of how protected 
processing environment keys may be initialized; 

FIGURES 66 and 67 show example processes for decrypting 
information contained within stationary and traveling objects, 
respectively; 

FIGURE 68 shows an example of how a protected processing 
environment may be initialized; 

FIGURE 69 shows an example of how firmware may be 
downloaded into a protected processing environment; 

FIGURE 70 shows an example of multiple VDE electronic 
appliances connected together with a network or other 
communications means; 

FIGURE 71 shows an example of a portable VDE electronic 
appliance; 


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FIGURES 72A-72D show examples of "pop-up" displays that 
may be generated by the user notification and exception interface; 

FIGURE 73 shows an example of a "smart object"; 

FIGURE 74 shows an example of a process using "smart 
objects"; 

FIGURES 75A-75D show examples of data structures used 
for electronic negotiation; 

FIGURES 75E-75F show example structures relating to an 
electronic agreement; 

FIGURES 76A-76B show examples of electronic negotiation 
processes; 

FIGURE 77 shows a further example of a chain of handling 
and control; 

FIGURE 78 shows an example of a VDE "repository"; 

FIGURES 79-83 show an example illustrating a chain of 
handling and control to evolve and transform VDE managed 
content and control information; 


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FIGURE 84 shows a further example of a chain of handling 
and control involving several categories of VDE participants; 

FIGURE 85 shows a further example of a chain of 
distribution and handling within an organization; 

Figures 86 and 86A show a further example of a chain of 
handling and control; and 

Figure 87 shows an example of a virtual silicon container 
model. 


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MORE DETAILED DE SCRIPTION 

Figures 1-7 and the discussion below provides an overview 
of some aspects of features provided by this invention. Following 
this overview is a more technical "detail description" of example 
embodiments in accordance with the invention. 

Overview 

Figure 1 shows a "Virtual Distribution Environment" 
("VDE") 100 that may be provided in accordance with this 
invention. In Figure 1, an information utility 200 connects to 
communications means 202 such as telephone or cable TV lines for 
example. Telephone or cable TV lines 202 may be part of an 
Vlprtmmc highway" that carries electronic information from place 
to place. Lines 202 connect information utility 200 to other people 


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such as for example a consumer 208, an office 210, a video 
production studio 204, and a publishing house 214. Each of the 
people connected to information utility 200 may be called a a VDE 
participant" because they can participate in transactions occurring 
within the virtual distribution environment 100. 

Almost any sort of transaction you can think of can be 
supported by virtual distribution environment 100. A few of many 
examples of transactions that can be supported by virtual 
distribution environment 100 include: 

• home banking and electronic payments; 

• electronic legal contracts; 

• distribution of "content" such as electronic printed 
matter, video, audio, images and computer programs; 
and 

• secure communication of private information such as 
medical records and financial information. 

Virtual distribution environment 100 is "virtual" because it 
does not require many of the physical "things" that used to be 
necessary to protect rights, ensure reliable and predictable 
distribution, and ensure proper compensation to content creators 
and distributors. For example, in the past, information was 
distributed on records or disks that were difficult to copy. In the 
past, private or secret content was distributed in sealed envelopes 
or locked briefcases delivered by courier. To ensure appropriate 


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compensation, consumers received goods and services only after 
they handed cash over to a seller. Although information utihty 
200 may deliver information by transferring physical "things" such 
as electronic storage media, the virtual distribution environment 
100 facilitates a completely electronic "chain of handling and 
control" 

VDB Flexibility Supports Transaction* 

Information utility 200 flexibly supports many different 
kinds of information transactions. Different VDE participants may 
define and/or participate in different parts of a transaction. 
Information utility 200 may assist with delivering information 
about a transaction, or it may be one of the transaction 
participants. 

For example, the video production studio 204 in the upper 
right-hand corner of Figure 1 may create video/television 
programs. Video production studio 204 may send these programs 
over lines 202, or may use other paths such as satellite link 205 
and CD ROM delivery service 216. Video production studio 204 
can send the programs directly to consumers 206, 208, 210, or it 
can send the programs to information utility 200 which may store 
and later send them to the consumers, for example. Consumers 
206 208 210 are each capable of receiving and using the 
programs created by video production studio 204-assuming, that 
is that the video production studio or information utility 200 has 


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arranged for these consumers to have appropriate " rules and 
controls " (control information) that give the consumers rights to 
use the programs. 

Even if a consumer has a copy of a video program, she 
cannot watch or copy the program unless she has "rules and 
controls" that authorize use of the program. She can use the 
program only as permitted by the "rules and controls." 

For example, video production studio 204 might release a 
half-hour exercise video in the hope that as many viewers as 
possible will view it. The video production studio 204 wishes to 
receive $2.00 per viewing. (Video production studio 204 may, 
through information utility 200, make the exercise video available 
in "protected" form to all consumers 206, 208, 210. Video 
production studio 204 may also provide "rules and controls" for the 
video. These "rules and controls" may specify for example: 

(1) any consumer who has good credit of at least $2.00 
based on a credit account with independent financial 
provider 212 (such as Mastercard or VISA) may watch the 
video, 

(2) virtual distribution environment 100 will "meter" each 
time a consumer watches the video, and report usage to 
video production studio 204 from time to time, and 


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5 


(3) financial provider 212 may electronically collect payment 
($2.00) from the credit account of each consumer who 
watches the video, and transfer these payments to the video 
production studio 204. 


Information utility 200 allows even a small video production 
studio to market videos to consumers and receive compensation for 
its efforts. Moreover, the videos can, with appropriate payment to 
the video production studio, be made available to other video 
10 publishers who may add value and/or act as repackages or 

redistributors. 

Figure 1 also shows a publishing house 214. Publishing 
house 214 may act as a distributor for an author 206. The 

15 publishing house 214 may distribute rights to use "content" (such 

as computer software, electronic newspapers, the video produced 
by publishing house 214, audio, or any other data) to consumers 
such as office 210. The use rights may be defined by "rules and 
controls'* distributed by publishing house 216. Publishing house 

20 216 may distribute these "rules and controls" with the content, but 

this is not necessary. Because the content can be used only by 
consumers that have the appropriate "rules and controls," content 
and its associated "rules and controls" may be distributed at 
different times, in different ways, by different VDE participants. 

25 The ability of VDE to securely distribute and enforce "rules and 


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controls" separately from the content they apply to provides great 
advantages. 

Use rights distributed by publishing house 214 may, for 
example, permit office 210 to make and distribute copies of the 
content to its employees. Office 210 may act as a redistributor by 
extending a "chain of handling and control" to its employees. The 
office 210 may add or modify "rules and controls" (consistent with 
the "rules and controls" it receives from publishing house 214) to 
provide office-internal control information and mechanisms. For 
example, office 210 may set a maximum usage budget for each 
individual user and/or group within the office, or it may permit 
only specified employees and/or groups to access certain 
information. 

Figure 1 also shows an information delivery service 216 
delivering electronic storage media such as "CD ROM" disks to 
consumers 206. Even though the electronic storage media 
themselves are not delivered electronically by information utility 
200 over lines 202, they are still part of the virtual distribution 
environment 100. The electronic storage media may be used to 
distribute content, "rules and controls," or other information. 

Example of What's Inside Information Utility 200 

"Information utility" 200 in Figure 1 can be a collection of 
participants that may act as distributors, financial clearinghouses, 


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and administrators. Figure 1A shows an example of what may be 
inside one example of information utility 200. Information utility 
participants 200a-200g could each be an independent 
organization/business. There can be any number of each of 
participants 200a-200g. In this example, electronic "switch" 200a 
connects internal parts of information utility 200 to each other and 
to outside participants, and may also connect outside participants 
to one another. 

Information utility 200 may include a "transaction 
processor" 200b that processes transactions (to transfer electronic 
funds, for example) based on requests from participants and/or 
report receiver 200e. It may also include a "usage analyst" 200c 
that analyzes reported usage information. A "report creator" 200d 
may create reports based on usage for example, and may provide 
these reports to outside participants and/or to participants within 
information utility 200. A "report receiver" 200e may receive 
reports such as usage reports from content users. A 
"permissioning agent" 200f may distribute "rules and controls" 
granting usage or distribution permissions based on a profile of a 
consumer's credit worthiness, for example. An administrator 200h 
may provide information that keeps the virtual distribution 
environment 100 operating properly. A content and message 
storage 200g may store information for use by participants within 
or outside of information utility 200. 


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Example of Distributing 'Content" Using A 'Chain of Handling 
and Control* 

As explained above, virtual distribution environment 100 
can be used to manage almost any sort of transaction. One type of 
important transaction that virtual distribution environment 100 
may be used to manage is the distribution or communication of 
"content" or other important information. Figure 2 more 
abstractly shows a "model" of how the Figure 1 virtual distribution 
environment 100 may be used to provide a "chain of handling and 
control" for distributing content. Each of the blocks in Figure 2 
may correspond to one or more of the VDE participants shown in 
Figure 1. 

In the Figure 2 example, a VDE content creator 102 creates 
" content " The content creator 102 may also specify "rules and 
controls " for distributing the content. These distribution-related 
"rules and controls" can specify who has permission to distribute 
the rights to use content, and how many users are allowed to use 
the content. 

Arrow 104 shows the content creator 102 sending the "rules 
and controls" associated with the content to a VDE rights 
distributor 106 ("distributor") over an electronic highway 108 (or 
by some other path such as an optical disk sent by a delivery 
service such as U. S. mail). The content can be distributed over 
the same or different path used to send the "rules and controls." 


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The distributor 106 generates her own "rules and controls" that 
relate to usage of the content. The usage-related "rules and 
controls" may, for example, specify what a user can and can't do 
with the content and how much it costs to use the content. These 
5 usage-related "rules and controls" must be consistent with the 

"rules and controls" specified by content creator 102. 

Arrow 110 shows the distributor 106 distributing rights to 
use the content by sending the content's "rules and controls" to a 
10 cjmtej^user 112 such as a consumer. The content user 112 uses 

the content in accordance with the usage-related "rules and 
controls." 

In this Figure 2 example, information relating to content use 
15 is, as shown by arrow 114, reported to a financial clearinghouse 

116. Based on this "reporting," the financial clearinghouse 116 
may generate a bJU and send it to the content user 112 over a 
■vop^c an H navments" network 118. Arrow 120 shows the 
content user 112 providing payingnis for content usage to the 
20 financial clearinghouse 116. Based on the reports and payments it 

receives, the financial clearinghouse 116 may provide reports 
and/or payments to the distributor 106. The distributor 106 may, 
as shown by arrow 122, provide reports and/or payments to the 
content creator 102. The clearinghouse 116 may provide reports 
25 and payments directly to the creator 102. Reporting and/or 

payments may be done differently. For example, clearinghouse 


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116 may directly or through an agent, provide reports and/or 
payments to each of VDE content creators 102, and rights 
distributor 106, as well as reports to content user 112. 

The distributor 106 and the content creator 102 may be the 
same person, or they may be different people. For example, a 
musical performing group may act as both content creator 102 and 
distributor 106 by creating and distributing its own musical 
recordings. As another example, a publishing house may act as a 
distributor 106 to distribute rights to use works created by an 
author content creator 102. Content creators 102 may use a 
distributor 106 to efficiently manage the financial end of content 
distribution. 

The "financial clearinghouse" 116 shown in Figure 2 may 
also be a " VDE administrator Financial clearinghouse 116 in its 
VDE administrator role sends "administrative* information to the 
VDE participants. This administrative information helps to keep 
the virtual distribution environment 100 operating properly. The 
"VDE administrator* and financial clearinghouse roles may be 
performed by different people or companies, and there can be more 
than one of each. 

More about "Rules and Controls 9 

The virtual distribution environment 100 prevents use of 
protected information except as permitted by the "rules and 


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controls" (control information). For example, the "rules and 
controls" shown in Figure 2 may grant specific individuals or 
classes of content users 112 "permission" to use certain content. 
They may specify what kinds of content usage are permitted, and 
5 what kinds are not. They may specify how content usage is to be 

paid for and how much it costs. As another example, "rules and 
controls" may require content usage information to be reported 
back to the distributor 106 and/or content creator 102. 

10 Every VDE participant in "chain of handling and control" is 

normally subject to "rules and controls." "Rules and controls" 
define the respective rights and obligations of each of the various 
VDE participants. "Rules and controls" provide information and 
mechanisms that may establish interdependences and 
15 relationships between the participants. "Rules and controls" are 

flexible, and permit "virtual distribution environment" 100 to 
support most "traditional" business transactions. For example: 
"Rules and controls" may specify which financial 
clearinghouse(s) 116 may process payments, 
20 • "Rules and controls" may specify which participant(s) 

receive what kind of usage report, and 
"Rules and controls" may specify that certain 
information is revealed to certain participants, and 
that other information is kept secret from them. 

25 


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"Rules and controls" may self limit if and how they may be 
changed. Often, "rules and controls" specified by one VDE 
participant cannot be changed by another VDE participant. For 
example, a content user 112 generally can't change "rules and 
controls" specified by a distributor 106 that require the user to pay 
for content usage at a certain rate. "Rules and controls" may 
"persist" as they pass through a "chain of handling and control," 
and may be "inherited" as they are passed down from one VDE 
participant to the next. 

Depending upon their needs, VDE participants can specify 
that their "rules and controls" can be changed under conditions 
specified by the same or other "rules and controls." For example, 
"rules and controls" specified by the content creator 102 may 
permit the distributor 106 to "mark up" the usage price just as 
retail stores "mark up" the wholesale price of goods. Figure 2A 
shows an example in which certain "rules and controls" persist 
unchanged from content creator 102 to content user 112; other 
"rules and controls" are modified or deleted by distributor 106; and 
still other "rules and controls" are added by the distributor. 

"Rules and controls" can be used to protect the content 
user's privacy by limiting the information that is reported to other 
VDE participants. As one example, "rules and controls" can cause 
content usage information to be reported anonymously without 
revealing content user identity, or it can reveal only certain 


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information to certain participants (for example, information 
derived from usage) with appropriate permission, if required. This 
ability to securely control what information is revealed and what 
VDE participant(s) it is revealed to allows the privacy rights of all 
VDE participants to be protected. 

"Rules and Contents' Can Be Separately Delivered 

As mentioned above, virtual distribution environment 100 
"associates" content with corresponding "rules and controls," and 
prevents the content from being used or accessed unless a set of 
corresponding "rules and controls" is available. The distributor 
106 doesn't need to deliver content to control the content's 
distribution. The preferred embodiment can securely protect 
content by protecting corresponding, usage enabling "rules and 
controls" against unauthorized distribution and use. 

In some examples, "rules and controls" may travel with the 
content they apply to. Virtual distribution environment 100 also 
allows "rules and controls" to be delivered separately from content. 
Since no one can use or access protected content without 
"permission" from corresponding "rules and controls," the 
distributor 106 can control use of content that has already been (or 
will in the future be) delivered. "Rules and controls" may be 
delivered over a path different from the one used for content 
delivery. "Rules and controls" may also be delivered at some other 
time. The content creator 102 might deliver content to content 


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• # 


user 112 over the electronic highway 108, or could make the 
content available to anyone on the highway. Content may be used 
at the time it is delivered, or it may be stored for later use or 
reuse. 

The virtual distribution environment 100 also allows 
payment and reporting means to be delivered separately. For 
example, the content user 112 may have a virtual "credit card" 
that extends credit (up to a certain limit) to pay for usage of any 
content. A "credit transaction" can take place at the user's site 
without requiring any "online" connection or further authorization. 
This invention can be used to help securely protect the virtual 
"credit card" against unauthorized use. 

"Rules and Contents* Define Processes 

Figure 3 shows an example of an overall process based on 
"rules and controls ." It includes an "events" process 402, a meter 
process 404, a billing process 406, and a budget process 408. Not 
all of the processes shown in Figure 3 will be used for every set of 
"rules and controls." 

The "events process" 402 detects things that happen 
("events") and determines which of those "events" need action by 
the other "processes." The "events" may include, for example, a 
request to use content or generate a usage permission. Some 
events may need additional processing, and others may not. 


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Whether an "event" needs more processing depends on the "rules 
and controls" corresponding to the content. For example, a user 
who lacks permission will not have her request satisfied ("No Go"). 
As another example, each user request to turn to a new page of an 

5 electronic book may be satisfied ("Go"), but it may not be necessary 

to meter, bill or budget those requests. A user who has purchased 
a copy of a novel may be permitted to open and read the novel as 
many times as she wants to without any further metering, billing 
or budgeting. In this simple example, the "event process" 402 may 

10 request metering, billing and/or budgeting processes the first time 

the user asks to open the protected novel (so the purchase price 
can be charged to the user), and treat all later requests to open 
the same novel as "insignificant events." Other content (for 
example, searching an electronic telephone directory) may require 

15 the user to pay a fee for each access. 

"Meter" process 404 keeps track of events, and may report 
usage to distributor 106 and/or other appropriate VDE 
participant(s). Figure 4 shows that process 404 can be based on a 
20 number of different factors such as: 

(a) type of usage to charge for, 

(b) what kind of unit to base charges on, 

(c) how much to charge per unit, 


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• 


10 


15 


20 


(d) when to report, and 

(e) how to pay. 

These factors may be specified by the "rules and controls" that 
control the meter process. 

Billing process 406 determines how much to charge for 

events. It records and reports payment information. 

Budget process 408 limits how much content usage is 
permitted. For example, budget process 408 may limit the number 
of times content may be accessed or copied, or it may limit the 
number of pages or other amount of content that can be used 
based on, for example, the number of dollars available in a credit 
account. Budget process 408 records and reports financial and 
other transaction information associated with such limits. 

Content may be supplied to the user once these processes 
have been successfully performed. 

Containers and 'Objects* 

Figure 5A shows how the virtual distribution environment 
100, in a preferred embodiment, may package information 
elements (content) into a " container " 302 so the information can't 
be accessed except as provided by its "rules and controls." 
Normally, the container 302 is electronic rather than physical. 
Electronic container 302 in one example comprises "digital" 


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information having a well defined structure. Container 302 and 
its contents can be called an "object 300." 

The Figure 5A example shows items "within" and enclosed 
5 by container 302. However, container 302 may "contain" items 

without those items actually being stored within the container. 
For example, the container 302 may reference items that are 
available elsewhere such as in other containers at remote sites. 
Container 302 may reference items available at different times or 
10 only during limited times. Some items may be too large to store 

within container 302. Items may, for example, be delivered to the 
user in the form of a "live feed" of video at a certain time. Even 
then, the container 302 "contains" the live feed (by reference) in 
this example. 


15 


20 


Container 302 may contain information content 304 in 
electronic (such as "digital") form. Information content 304 could 
be the text of a novel, a picture, sound such as a musical 
performance or a reading, a movie or other video, computer 
software, or just about any other kind of electronic information you 
can think of. Other types of "objects" 300 (such as "administrative 
objects") may contain "administrative" or other information instead 
of or in addition to information content 304. 


25 In the Figure 5A example, container 302 may also contain 

"rules and controls" in the form of: 


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(a) a " permissions record " 808; 

(b) "budgets " 308; and 

(c) "other methods" 1000. 

5 Figure 5B gives some additional detail about permissions 

record 808, budgets 308 and other methods 1000. The 
"permissions record" 808 specifies the rights associated with the 
object 300 such as, for example, who can open the container 302, 
who can use the object's contents, who can distribute the object, 

10 and what other control mechanisms must be active. For example, 

permissions record 808 may specify a user's rights to use, 
distribute and/or administer the container 302 and its content. 
Permissions record 808 may also specify requirements to be 
applied by the budgets 308 and "other methods" 1000. 

15 Permissions record 808 may also contain security related 

information such as scrambling and descrambling "keys." 

"Budgets" 308 shown in Figure 5B are a special type of 
"method" 1000 that may specify, among other things, limitations 
20 on usage of information content 304, and how usage will be paid 

for. Budgets 308 can specify, for example, how much of the total 
information content 304 can be used and/or copied. The methods 
310 may prevent use of more than the amount specified by a 
specific budget. 


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-Other methods" 1000 define basic operations used by "rules 
and controls." Such "methods" 1000 may include, for example, 
how usage is to be "metered," if and how content 304 and other 
information is to be scrambled and descrambled, and other 

5 processes associated with handling and controlling information 

content 304. For example, methods 1000 may record the identity 
of anyone who opens the electronic container 302, and can also 
control how information content is to be charged based on 
"metering." Methods 1000 may apply to one or several different 

10 information contents 304 and associated containers 302, as well as 

to all or specific portions of information content 304. 

Secure Processing Unit (SPU) 

The "VDE participants" may each have an " electronic 
15 appliance ." The appliance may be or contain a computer. The 

appliances may communicate over the electronic highway 108. 

Figure 6 shows a — ™- pressing unit ("SPU") 500 portion of the 

"electronic appliance" used in this example by each VDE 

participant. SPU 500 processes information in a secure processing 
20 pnvironment 503, and stores important information securely. SPU 

500 may be emulated by software operating in a host electronic 

appliance. 

SPU 500 is enclosed within and protected by a " tamper 
25 ^ctcnt ««mrit.v barrier " 502. Security barrier 502 separates the 

secure environment 503 from the rest of the world. It prevents 


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information and processes within the secure environment 503 from 
being observed, interfered with and leaving except under 
appropriate secure conditions. Barrier 502 also controls external 
access to secure resources, processes and information within SPU 
5 500. In one example, tamper resistant security barrier 502 is 

formed by security features such as "encryption," and hardware 
that detects tampering and/or destroys sensitive information 
within secure environment 503 when tampering is detected. 

10 SPU 500 in this example is an integrated circuit ("IC") 

"chip" 504 including " hardware" 506 and "firmware" 508. SPU 500 
connects to the rest of the electronic appliance through an 
" apnliance link " 510. SPU "firmware" 508 in this example is 
"software" such as a "computer program(s)" "embedded" within 

15 chip 504. Firmware 508 makes the hardware 506 work. 

Hardware 506 preferably contains a processor to perform 
instructions specified by firmware 508. "Hardware" 506 also 
contains long-term and short-term memories to store information 
securely so it can't be tampered with. SPU 500 may also have a 

20 protected clock/calendar used for timing events. The SPU 

hardware 506 in this example may include special purpose 
electronic circuits that are specially designed to perform certain 
processes (such as "encryption" and "decryption") rapidly and 
efficiently. 

25 


. (0061603.01) 


The particular context in which SPU 500 is being used will 
determine how much processing capabilities SPU 500 should have. 
SPU hardware 506, in this example, provides at least enough 
processing capabilities to support the secure parts of processes 
shown in Figure 3. In some contexts, the functions of SPU 500 
may be increased so the SPU can perform all the electronic 
appliance processing, and can be incorporated into a general 
purpose processor. In other contexts, SPU 500 may work 
alongside a general purpose processor, and therefore only needs to 
have enough processing capabilities to handle secure processes. 

VDE Electronic Appliance and -Rights Operating System" 

Figure 7 shows an example of an electronic appliance 600 
including SPU 500. Electronic appliance 600 may be practically 
any kind of electrical or electronic device, such as: 


• a computer 

a T.V. "set top" control box 

• a pager 

• a telephone 

• a sound system 

a video reproduction system 
a video game player 
a "smart" credit card 


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Electronic appliance 600 in this example may include a keyboard 
or keypad 612, a voice recognizer 613, and a display 614. A 
human user can input commands through keyboard 612 and/or 
voice recognizer 613, and may view information on display 614. 
5 Appliance 600 may communicate with the outside world through 

any of the connections/devices normally used within an electronic 
appliance. The connections/devices shown along the bottom of the 
drawing are examples: 

a "modem" 618 or other telecommunications link; 
10 a CD ROM disk 620 or other storage medium or device; 

a printer 622; 

broadcast reception 624; 

a document scanner 626; and 

a "cable" 628 connecting the appliance with a "network." 

15 

Virtual distribution environment 100 provides a "rights 
operating system" 602 that manages appliance 600 and SPU 500 
by controlling their hardware resources. The operating system 602 
may also support at least one " application " 608. Generally, 

20 "application" 608 is hardware and/or software specific to the 

context of appliance 600. For example, if appliance 600 is a 
personal computer, then "application" 608 could be a program 
loaded by the user, for instance, a word processor, a 
communications system or a sound recorder. If appliance 600 is a 

25 television controller box, then application 608 might be hardware 

or software that allows a user to order videos on demand and 


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perform other functions such as fast forward and rewind. In this 
example, operating system 602 provides a standardized, well 
defined, generalized "interface" that could support and work with 
many different "applications" 608. 

Operating system 602 in this example provides "rights and 
auditing operating system functions " 604 and "other operating 
system functions" 606. The "rights and auditing operating system 
functions" 604 securely handle tasks that relate to virtual 
distribution environment 100. SPU 500 provides or supports 
many of the security functions of the "rights and auditing 
operating system functions" 402. The "other operating system 
functions" 606 handle general appliance functions. Overall 
operating system 602 may be designed from the beginning to 
include the "rights and auditing operating system functions" 604 
plus the "other operating system functions" 606, or the "rights and 
auditing operating system functions" may be an add-on to a 
preexisting operating system providing the "other operating 
system functions." 

"Rights operating system" 602 in this example can work 
with many different types of appliances 600. For example, it can 
work with large mainframe computers, "minicomputers" and 
"microcomputers" such as personal computers and portable 
computing devices. It can also work in control boxes on the top of 
television sets, small portable "pagers," desktop radios, stereo 


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sound systems, telephones, telephone switches, or any other 
electronic appliance. This ability to work on big appliances as well 
as little appliances is called "scalable." A "scalable" operating 
system 602 means that there can be a standardized interface 
across many different appliances performing a wide variety of 
tasks. 

The "rights operating system functions" 604 are "services- 
based" in this example. For example, "rights operating system 
functions" 604 handle summary requests from application 608 
rather than requiring the application to always make more 
detailed "subrequests" or otherwise get involved with the 
underlying complexities involved in satisfying a summary request. 
For example, application 608 may simply ask to read specified 
information; "rights operating system functions" 604 can then 
decide whether the desired information is VDE-protected content 
and, if it is, perform processes needed to make the information 
available. This feature is called "transparency." "Transparency" 
makes tasks easy for the application 608. "Rights operating 
system functions" 604 can support applications 608 that "know" 
nothing about virtual distribution environment 100. Applications 
608 that are "aware" of virtual distribution environment 100 may 
be able to make more detailed use of virtual distribution 
environment 100. 


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In this example, "rights operating system functions" 604 are 
-event driven-. Rather than repeatedly examining the state of 
electronic appliance 600 to determine whether a condition has 
arisen, the "rights operating system functions" 604 may respond 
directly to "events" or "happenings" within appliance 600. 

In this example, some of the services performed by "rights 
operating system functions" 604 may be extended based on 
additional "components" delivered to operating system 602. 
"Rights operating system functions" 604 can collect together and 
use "components" sent by different participants at different times. 
The "components" help to make the operating system 602 
"scalable." Some components can change how services work on 
little appliances versus how they work on big appliances (e.g., 
multi-user). Other components are designed to work with specific 
applications or classes of applications (e.g., some types of meters 
and some types of budgets). 

Electronic Appliance 600 

An electronic appliance 600 provided by the preferred 
embodiment may, for example, be any electronic apparatus that 
contains one or more microprocessors and/or microcontrollers 
and/or other devices which perform logical and/or mathematical 
calculations. This may include computers; computer terminals; 
device controllers for use with computers; peripheral devices for 
use with computers; digital display devices; televisions; video and 


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audio/video projection systems; channel selectors and/or decoders 
for use with broadcast and/or cable transmissions; remote control 
devices; video and/or audio recorders; media players including 
compact disc players, videodisc players and tape players; audio 

5 and/or video amplifiers; virtual reality machines; electronic game 

players; multimedia players; radios; telephones; videophones; 
facsimile machines; robots; numerically controlled machines 
including machine tools and the like; and other devices containing 
one or more microcomputers and/or microcontrollers and/or other 

10 CPUs, including those not yet in existence. 

Figure 8 shows an example of an electronic appliance 600. 
This example of electronic appliance 600 includes a system bus 
653. In this example, one or more conventional general purpose 

15 central processing units ("CPUs") 654 are connected to bus 653. 

Bus 653 connects CPU(s) 654 to RAM 656, ROM 658, and I/O 
controller 660. One or more SPUs 500 may also be connected to 
system bus 653. System bus 653 may permit SPU(s) 500 to 
communicate with CPU(s) 654, and also may allow both the 

20 CPU(s) and the SPU(s) to communicate (e.g., over shared address 

and data lines) with RAM 656, ROM 658 and I/O controller 660. A 
power supply 659 may provide power to SPU 500, CPU 654 and 
the other system components shown. 

25 In the example shown, I/O controller 660 is connected to 

secondary storage device 652, a keyboard/display 612,614, a 


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communications controller 666, and a backup storage device 668. 
Backup storage device 668 may, for example, store information on 
mass media such as a tape 670, a floppy disk, a removable 
memory card, etc. Communications controller 666 may allow 
electronic appliance 600 to communicate with other electronic 
appliances via network 672 or other telecommunications links. 
Different electronic appliances 600 may interoperate even if they 
use different CPUs and different instances of ROS 602, so long as 
they typically use compatible communication protocols and/or 
security methods. In this example, I/O controller 660 permits CPU 
654 and SPU 500 to read from and write to secondary storage 
662, keyboard/display 612, 614, communications controller 666, 
and backup storage device 668. 

Secondary storage 662 may comprise the same one or more 
non-secure secondary storage devices (such as a magnetic disk and 
a CD-ROM drive as one example) that electronic appliance 600 
uses for general secondary storage functions. In some 
implementations, part or all of secondary storage 652 may 
comprise a secondary storage device(s) that is physically enclosed 
within a secure enclosure. However, since it may not be practical 
or cost-effective to physically secure secondary storage 652 in 
many implementations, secondary storage 652 may be used to 
store information in a secure manner by encrypting information 
before storing it in secondary storage 652. If information is 
encrypted before it is stored, physical access to secondary storage 


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652 or its contents does not readily reveal or compromise the 
information. 

Secondary storage 652 in this example stores code and data 
5 used by CPU 654 and/or SPU 500 to control the overall operation 

of electronic appliance 600. For example, Figure 8 shows that 
"Rights Operating System" ("ROS") 602 (including a portion 604 of 
ROS that provides VDE functions and a portion 606 that provides 
other OS functions) shown in Figure 7 may be stored on secondary 

10 storage 652. Secondary storage 652 may also store one or more 

VDE objects 300. Figure 8 also shows that the secure files 610 
shown in Figure 7 may be stored on secondary storage 652 in the 
form of a "secure database" or management file system 610. This 
secure database 610 may store and organize information used by 

15 ROS 602 to perform VDE functions 604. Thus, the code that is 

executed to perform VDE and other OS functions 604, 606, and 
secure files 610 (as well as VDE objects 300) associated with those 
functions may be stored in secondary storage 652. Secondary 
storage 652 may also store "other information" 673 such as, for 

20 example, information used by other operating system functions 

606 for task management, non-VDE files, etc. Portions of the 
elements indicated in secondary storage 652 may also be stored in 
ROM 658, so long as those elements do not require changes 
(except when ROM 658 is replaced). Portions of ROS 602 in 

25 particular may desirably be included in ROM 658 (e.g., "bootstrap" 


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routines, POST routines, etc. for use in establishing an operating 
environment for electronic appliance 600 when power is apphed). 

Figure 8 shows that secondary storage 652 may also be used 
to store code ("application programs") providing user application(s) 
608 shown in Figure 7. Figure 8 shows that there may be two 
general types of application programs 608: "VDE aware- 
applications 608a, and Non-VDE aware applications 608b. VDE 
aware applications 608a may have been at least in part designed 
specifically with VDE 100 in mind to access and take detailed 
advantage of VDE functions 604. Because of the "transparency- 
features of ROS 602, non-VDE aware applications 608b (e.g., 
applications not specifically designed for VDE 100) can also access 
and take advantage of VDE functions 604. 

SECURE PROCESSING UNIT 500 

Each VDE node or other electronic appliance 600 in the 
preferred embodiment may include one or more SPUs 500. SPUs 
500 may be used to perform all secure processing for VDE 100. 
For example, SPU 500 is used for decrypting (or otherwise 
unsecuring) VDE protected objects 300. It is also used for 
managing encrypted and/or otherwise secured communication 
(such as by employing authentication and/or error-correction 
validation of information). SPU 500 may also perform secure data 
management processes including governing usage of, auditing of, 
and where appropriate, payment for VDE objects 300 (through the 


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use of prepayments, credits, real-time electronic debits from bank 
accounts and/or VDE node currency token deposit accounts). SPU 
500 may perform other transactions related to such VDE objects 
300. 

5 

SPU Physical Packaging and Security Barrier 502 

As shown Figure 6, in the preferred embodiment, an SPU 
500 may be implemented as a single integrated circuit "chip" 505 
to provide a secure processing environment in which confidential 

10 and/or commercially valuable information can be safely processed, 

encrypted and/or decrypted. IC chip 505 may, for example, 
comprise a small semiconductor "die" about the size of a 
thumbnail. This semiconductor die may include semiconductor 
and metal conductive pathways. These pathways define the 

15 circuitry, and thus the functionality, of SPU 500. Some of these 

pathways are electrically connected to the external "pins" 504 of 
the chip 505. 

As shown in Figures 6 and 9, SPU 500 may be surrounded 
20 by a tamper-resistant hardware security barrier 502. Part of this 

security barrier 502 is formed by a plastic or other package in 
which an SPU "die" is encased. Because the processing occurring 
within, and information stored by, SPU 500 are not easily 
accessible to the outside world, they are relatively secure from 
25 unauthorized access and tampering. All signals cross barrier 502 

through a secure, controlled path provided by BIU 530 that 


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restricts the outside world's access to the internal components 
within SPU 500. This secure, controlled path resists attempts 
from the outside world to access secret information and resources 
within SPU 500. 

It is possible to remove the plastic package of an IC chip and 
gain access to the "die." It is also possible to analyze and "reverse 
engineer" the "die" itself (e.g., using various types of logic 
analyzers and microprobes to collect and analyze signals on the die 
while the circuitry is operating, using acid etching or other 
techniques to remove semiconductor layers to expose other layers, 
viewing and photographing the die using an electron microscope, 
etc.) Although no system or circuit is absolutely impervious to 
such attacks, SPU barrier 502 may include additional hardware 
protections that make successful attacks exceedingly costly and 
time consuming. For example, ion implantation and/or other 
fabrication techniques may be used to make it very difficult to 
visually discern SPU die conductive pathways, and SPU internal 
circuitry may be fabricated in such a way that it "self-destructs" 
when exposed to air and/or light. SPU 500 may store secret 
information in internal memory that loses its contents when power 
is lost. Circuitry may be incorporated within SPU 500 that detects 
microprobing or other tampering, and self-destructs (or destroys 
other parts of the SPU) when tampering is detected. These and 
other hardware-based physical security techniques contribute to 
tamper-resistant hardware security barrier 502. 


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To increase the security of security barrier 502 even further, 
it is possible to encase or include SPU 500 in one or more further 
physical enclosures such as, for example: epoxy or other "potting 
compound"; further module enclosures including additional self- 
5 destruct, self-disabling or other features activated when tampering 

is detected; further modules providing additional security 
protections such as requiring password or other authentication to 
operate; and the like. In addition, further layers of metal may be 
added to the die to complicate acid etching, micro probing, and the 

10 like; circuitry designed to "zeroize" memory may be included as an 

aspect of self-destruct processes; the plastic package itself may be 
designed to resist chemical as well as physical "attacks"; and 
memories internal to SPU 500 may have specialized addressing 
and refresh circuitry that "shuffles" the location of bits to 

15 complicate efforts to electrically determine the value of memory 

locations. These and other techniques may contribute to the 
security of barrier 502. 


In some electronic appliances 600, SPU 500 may be 
20 integrated together with the device microcontroller or equivalent 

or with a device I/O or communications microcontroller into a 
common chip (or chip set) 505. For example, in one preferred 
embodiment, SPU 500 may be integrated together with one or 
more other CPU(s) (e.g., a CPU 654 of an electronic appliance) in a 
25 single component or package. The other CPU(s) 654 may be any 

centrally controlling logic arrangement, such as for example, a 


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microprocessor, other microcontroller, and/or array or other 
parallel processor. This integrated configuration may result in 
lower overall cost, smaller overall size, and potentially faster 
interaction between an SPU 500 and a CPU 654. Integration may 
also provide wider distribution if an integrated SPU/CPU 
component is a standard feature of a widely distributed 
microprocessor line. Merging an SPU 500 into a main CPU 654 of 
an electronic appliance 600 (or into another appliance or appliance 
peripheral microcomputer or other microcontroller) may 
substantially reduce the overhead cost of implementing VDE 100. 
Integration considerations may include cost of implementation, 
cost of manufacture, desired degree of security, and value of 
compactness. 

SPU 500 may also be integrated with devices other than 
CPUs. For example, for video and multimedia applications, some 
performance and/or security advantages (depending on overall 
design) could result from integrating an SPU 500 into a video 
controller chip or chipset. SPU 500 can also be integrated directly 
into a network communications chip or chipset or the like. Certain 
performance advantages in high speed communications 
applications may also result from integrating an SPU 500 with a 
modem chip or chipset. This may facilitate incorporation of an 
SPU 500 into communication appliances such as stand-alone fax 
machines. SPU 500 may also be integrated into other peripheral 
devices, such as CD-ROM devices, set-top cable devices, game 


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devices, and a wide variety of other electronic appliances that use, 
allow access to, perform transactions related to, or consume, 
distributed information. 

5 SPU 500 Internal Architecture 

Figure 9 is a detailed diagram of the internal structure 
within an example of SPU 500. SPU 500 in this example includes 
a single microprocessor 520 and a limited amount of memory 
configured as ROM 532 and RAM 534. In more detail, this 

10 example of SPU 500 includes microprocessor 520, an 

encrypt/decrypt engine 522, a DMA controller 526, a real-time 
clock 528, a bus interface unit ("BIU") 530, a read only memory 
(ROM) 532, a random access memory (RAM) 534, and a memory 
management unit CMMU") 540. DMA controller 526 and MMU 

15 540 are optional, but the performance of SPU 500 may suffer if 

they are not present. SPU 500 may also include an optional 
pattern matching engine 524, an optional random number 
generator 542, an optional arithmetic accelerator circuit 544, and 
optional compression/decompression circuit 546. A shared 

20 address/data bus arrangement 536 may transfer information 

between these various components under control of microprocessor 
520 and/or DMA controller 526. Additional or alternate dedicated 
paths 538 may connect microprocessor 520 to the other 
components (e.g., encrypt/decrypt engine 522 via line 538a, real- 

25 time clock 528 via line 538b, bus interface unit 530 via line 538c, 


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DMA controller via line 538d, and memory management unit 
(MMU) 540 via line 538e). 

The following section discusses each of these SPU 
components in more detail. 

Microprocessor 620 

Microprocessor 520 is the "brain" of SPU 500. In this 
example, it executes a sequence of steps specified by code stored 
(at least temporarily) within ROM 532 and/or RAM 534. 
Microprocessor 520 in the preferred embodiment comprises a 
dedicated central processing arrangement (e.g., a RISC and/or 
CISC processor unit, a microcontroller, and/or other central 
processing means or, less desirably in most applications, process 
specific dedicated control logic) for executing instructions stored in 
the ROM 532 and/or other memory. Microprocessor 520 may be 
separate elements of a circuitry layout, or may be separate 
packages within a secure SPU 500. 

In the preferred embodiment, microprocessor 520 normally 
handles the most security sensitive aspects of the operation of 
electronic appliance 600. For example, microprocessor 520 may 
manage VDE decrypting, encrypting, certain content and/or 
appliance usage control information, keeping track of usage of 
VDE secured content, and other VDE usage control related 
functions. 


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Stored in each SPU 500 and/or electronic appliance 
secondary memory 652 may be, for example, an instance of ROS 
602 software, application programs 608, objects 300 containing 
VDE controlled property content and related information, and 
management database 610 that stores both information associated 
with objects and VDE control information. ROS 602 includes 
software intended for execution by SPU microprocessor 520 for, in 
part, controlling usage of VDE related objects 300 by electronic 
appliance 600. As will be explained, these SPU programs include 
"load modules" for performing basic control functions. These 
various programs and associated data are executed and 
manipulated primarily by microprocessor 520. 

Real Time Clock (ETC) 628 

In the preferred embodiment, SPU 500 includes a real time 
clock circuit ("RTC") 528 that serves as a reliable, tamper resistant 
time base for the SPU. RTC 528 keeps track of time of day and 
date (e.g., month, day and year) in the preferred embodiment, and 
thus may comprise a combination calendar and clock. A reliable 
time base is important for implementing time based usage 
metering methods, "time aged decryption keys," and other time 
based SPU functions. 

The RTC 528 must receive power in order to operate. 
Optimally, the RTC 528 power source could comprise a small 
battery located within SPU 500 or other secure enclosure. 


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However, the RTC 528 may employ a power source such as an 
externally located battery that is external to the SPU 500. Such 
an externally located battery may provide relatively uninterrupted 
power to RTC 528, and may also maintain as non-volatile at least 
a portion of the otherwise volatile RAM 534 within SPU 500. 

In one implementation, electronic appliance power supply 
659 is also used to power SPU 500. Using any external power 
supply as the only power source for RTC 528 may significantly 
reduce the usefulness of time based security techniques unless, at 
minimum, SPU 500 recognizes any interruption (or any material 
interruption) of the supply of external power, records such 
interruption, and responds as may be appropriate such as 
disabling the ability of the SPU 500 to perform certain or all VDE 
processes. Recognizing a power interruption may, for example, be 
accomplished by employing a circuit which is activated by power 
failure. The power failure sensing circuit may power another 
circuit that includes associated logic for recording one or more 
power fail events. Capacitor discharge circuitry may provide the 
necessary temporary power to operate this logic. In addition or 
alternatively, SPU 500 may from time to time compare an output 
of RTC 528 to a clock output of a host electronic appliance 600, if 
available. In the event a discrepancy is detected, SPU 500 may 
respond as appropriate, including recording the discrepancy and/or 
disabling at least some portion of processes performed by SPU 500 
under at least some circumstances. 


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If a power failure and/or RTC 528 discrepancy and/or other 
event indicates the possibility of tampering, SPU 500 may 
automatically destroy, or render inaccessible without privileged 
intervention, one or more portions of sensitive information it 

5 stores, such as execution related information and/or encryption key 

related information. To provide further SPU operation, such 
destroyed information would have to be replaced by a VDE 
clearinghouse, administrator and/or distributor, as may be 
appropriate. This may be achieved by remotely downloading 

10 update and/or replacement data and/or code. In the event of a 

disabling and/or destruction of processes and/or information as 
described above, the electronic appliance 600 may require a secure 
VDE communication with an administrator, clearinghouse, and/or 
distributor as appropriate in order to reinitialize the RTC 528. 

15 Some or all secure SPU 500 processes may not operate until then. 

It may be desirable to provide a mechanism for setting 
and/or synchronizing RTC 528. In the preferred embodiment, 
when communication occurs between VDE electronic appliance 600 

20 and another VDE appliance, an output of RTC 528 may be 

compared to a controlled RTC 528 output time under control of the 
party authorized to be "senior" and controlling. In the event of a 
discrepancy, appropriate action may be taken, including resetting 
the RTC 528 of the "junior" controlled participant in the 

25 communication. 


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SPU Encrypt/Decrypt Engine 522 

In the preferred embodiment, SPU encrypt/decrypt engine 
522 provides special purpose hardware (e.g., a hardware state 
machine) for rapidly and efficiently encrypting and/or decrypting 
data. In some implementations, the encrypt/decrypt functions may 
be performed instead by microprocessor 520 under software 
control, but providing special purpose encrypt/decrypt hardware 
engine 522 will, in general, provide increased performance. 
Microprocessor 520 may, if desired, comprise a combination of 
processor circuitry and dedicated encryption/decryption logic that 
may be integrated together in the same circuitry layout so as to, 
for example, optimally share one or more circuit elements. 

Generally, it is preferable that a computationally efficient 
but highly secure "bulk" encryption/decryption technique should be 
used to protect most of the data and objects handled by SPU 500. 
It is preferable that an extremely secure encryption/decryption 
technique be used as an aspect of authenticating the identity of 
electronic appliances 600 that are establishing a communication 
channel and securing any transferred permission, method, and 
administrative information. In the preferred embodiment, the 
encrypt/decrypt engine 522 includes both a symmetric key 
encryption/decryption circuit (e.g. DES, Skipjack/Clipper, IDEA, 
RC-2, RC-4, etc.) and an antisymmetric (asymmetric) or Public Key 
CPK") encryption/decryption circuit. The public/private key 
encryption/decryption circuit is used principally as an aspect of 


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secure communications between an SPU 500 and VDE 
administrators, or other electronic appliances 600, that is between 
VDE secure subsystems. A symmetric encryption/decryption 
circuit may be used for ''bulk" encrypting and decrypting most data 
5 stored in secondary storage 662 of electronic appliance 600 in 

which SPU 500 resides. The symmetric key encryption/decryption 
circuit may also be used for encrypting and decrypting content 
stored within VDE objects 300. 

DES or public/private key methods may be used for all 
encryption functions. In alternate embodiments, encryption and 
decryption methods other than the DES and public/private key 
methods could be used for the various encryption related functions. 
For instance, other types of symmetric encryption/decryption 
techniques in which the same key is used for encryption and 
decryption could be used in place of DES encryption and 
decryption. The preferred embodiment can support a plurality of 
decryption/encryption techniques using multiple dedicated circuits 
within encrypt/decrypt engine 522 and/or the processing 
arrangement within SPU 500. 

Pattern Matching Engine 524 

Optional pattern matching engine 524 may provide special 
purpose hardware for performing pattern matching functions. One 
25 of the functions SPU 500 may perform is to validate/authenticate 

VDE objects 300 and other items. Validation/authentication often 


10 


15 


20 


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involves comparing long data strings to determine whether they 
compare in a predetermined way. In addition, certain forms of 
usage (such as logical and/or physical (contiguous) relatedness of 
accessed elements) may require searching potentially long strings 
5 of data for certain bit patterns or other significant pattern related 

metrics. Although pattern matching can be performed by SPU 
microprocessor 520 under software control, providing special 
purpose hardware pattern matching engine 524 may speed up the 
pattern matching process. 

10 

Compression/Decompression Engine 546 

An optional compression/decompression engine 546 may be 
provided within an SPU 500 to, for example, compress and/or 
decompress content stored in, or released from, VDE objects 300. 

15 Compression/decompression engine 546 may implement one or 

more compression algorithms using hardware circuitry to improve 
the performance of compression/decompression operations that 
would otherwise be performed by software operating on 
microprocessor 520, or outside SPU 500. Decompression is 

20 important in the release of data such as video and audio that is 

usually compressed before distribution and whose decompression 
speed is important. In some cases, information that is useful for 
usage monitoring purposes (such as record separators or other 
delimiters) is "hidden" under a compression layer that must be 

25 removed before this information can be detected and used inside 

SPU 500. 


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Random Number Generator 542 

Optional random number generator 542 may provide 
specialized hardware circuitry for generating random values (e.g., 
from inherently unpredictable physical processes such as quantum 

5 noise). Such random values are particularly useful for 

constructing encryption keys or unique identifiers, and for 
initializing the generation of pseudo-random sequences. Random 
number generator 542 may produce values of any convenient 
length, including as small as a single bit per use. A random 

10 number of arbitrary size may be constructed by concatenating 

values produced by random number generator 542. A 
cryptographically strong pseudo-random sequence may be 
generated from a random key and seed generated with random 
number generator 542 and repeated encryption either with the 

15 encrypt/decrypt engine 522 or cryptographic algorithms in SPU 

500. Such sequences may be used, for example, in private headers 
to frustrate efforts to determine an encryption key through 
cryptoanalysis. 

20 Arithmetic Accelerator 544 

An optional arithmetic accelerator 544 may be provided 
within an SPU 500 in the form of hardware circuitry that can 
rapidly perform mathematical calculations such as multiplication 
and exponentiation involving large numbers. These calculations 
25 can, for example, be requested by microprocessor 520 or 

encrypt/decrypt engine 522, to assist in the computations required 


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for certain asymmetric encryption/decryption operates. Such 
arithmetic accelerators are well-known to those skilled in the art. 
to some implementations, a separate arithmetic accelerator 544 
m ay be omitted and any necessary calculations may be performed 
by microprocessor 520 under software control. 

DMA Controller 626 

DMA controller 526 controls information transfers over 
address/data bus 536 without requiring microprocessor 520 to 
process each individual data transfer. Typically, microprocessor 
520 may write to DMA controller 526 target and destmahon 
addresses and the number of bytes to transfer, and DMA controller 
526 may then automatically transfer a block of data between 
components of SPU 500 (e.g.. from ROM 532 to RAM 534. between 
encrypt/decrypt engine 522 and RAM 534. between bus interface 
unit 530 and RAM 534, etc.). DMA controller 526 may have 
multiple channels to handle multiple transfers simultaneously. In 
some implementations, a separate DMA controller 526 may be 
omitted, and any necessary data movements may be performed by 
microprocessor 520 under software control. 

Bus Interface Unit (BIO) 630 

Bus interface unit (BIU) 530 communicates information 
between SPU 500 and the outside world across the security bamer 
502. BIU 530 shown in Figure 9 plus appropriate driver software 
may comprise the "appliance link" 510 shown in Figure 6. Bus 


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interface unit 530 may be modelled after a USART or PCI bus 
interface in the preferred embodiment. In this example, BIU 530 
connects SPU 500 to electronic appliance system bus 653 shown in 
Figure 8. BIU 530 is designed to prevent unauthorized access to 
internal components within SPU 500 and their contents. It does 
this by only allowing signals associated with an SPU 500 to be 
processed by control programs running on microprocessor 520 and 
not supporting direct access to the internal elements of an SPU 


Memory Management Unit 540 

Memory Management Unit (MMU) 540, if present, provides 
hardware support for memory management and virtual memory 
management functions. It may also provide heightened security 
by enforcing hardware compartmentalization of the secure 
execution space (e.g., to prevent a less trusted task from modifying 
a more trusted task). More details are provided below in 
connection with a discussion of the architecture of a Secure 
Processing Environment CSPE a ) 503 supported by SPU 500. 

MMU 540 may also provide hardware-level support 
functions related to memory management such as, for example, 
address mapping. 

SPU Memory Architecture 


500. 


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In the preferred embodiment, SPU 500 uses three general 

kinds of memory: 

(1) internal ROM 532; 

(2) internal RAM 534; and 

5 (3) external memory (typically RAM and/or disk supplied by 

a host electronic appliance). 

The internal ROM 532 and RAM 534 within SPU 500 
provide a secure operating environment and execution space. 
10 Because of cost limitations, chip fabrication size, complexity and 

other limitations, it may not be possible to provide sufficient 
memory within SPU 500 to store all information that an SPU 
needs to process in a secure manner. Due to the practical limits 
on the amount of ROM 532 and RAM 534 that may be included 
15 within SPU 500, SPU 500 may store information in memory 

external to it, and move this information into and out of its secure 
internal memory space on an as needed basis. In these cases, 
secure processing steps performed by an SPU typically must be 
segmented into small, securely packaged elements that may be 
20 "paged in" and "paged out" of the limited available internal 

memory space. Memory external to an SPU 500 may not be 
secure. Since the external memory may not be secure, SPU 500 
may encrypt and cryptographically seal code and other information 
before storing it in external memory. Similarly, SPU 500 must 
25 typically decrypt code and other information obtained from 

external memory in encrypted form before processing (e.g., 


. (0061603.01) 


• # 


In the preferred embodiment, ROM 532 may comprise a 
combination of a masked ROM 532a and an EEPROM and/or 
equivalent "flash" memory 532b. EEPROM or flash memory 532b 
is used to store items that need to be updated and/or initialized, 
such as for example, certain encryption keys. An additional 
benefit of providing EEPROM and/or flash memory 532b is the 
ability to optimize any load modules and library functions 
persistently stored within SPU 500 based on typical usage at a 
specific site. Although these items could also be stored in 
NVRAM 534b, EEPROM and/or flash memory 532b may be more 
cost effective. 

Masked ROM 532a may cost less than flash and/or 
EEPROM 532b, and can be used to store permanent portions of 
SPU software/firmware. Such permanent portions may include, 
for example, code that interfaces to hardware elements such as the 
RTC 528, encryption/decryption engine 522, interrupt handlers, 
key generators, etc. Some of the operating system, library calls, 
libraries, and many of the core services provided by SPU 500 may 
also be in masked ROM 532a. In addition, some of the more 
commonly used executables are also good candidates for inclusion 
in masked ROM 532a. Items that need to be updated or that need 
to disappear when power is removed from SPU 500 should not be 
stored in masked ROM 532a. 


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* 


executing) based on it. In the preferred embodiment, there are 
two general approaches used to address potential memory 
limitations in a SPU 500. In the first case, the small, securely 
packaged elements represent information contained in secure 
5 database 610. In the second case, such elements may represent 

protected (e.g., encrypted) virtual memory pages. Although virtual 
memory pages may correspond to information elements stored in 
secure database 610, this is not required in this example of a SPU 
memory architecture. 

10 

The following is a more detailed discussion of each of these 
three SPU memory resources. 

SPU Internal ROM 

15 SPU 500 read only memory (ROM) 532 or comparable 

purpose device provides secure internal non-volatile storage for 
certain programs and other information. For example, ROM 532 
may store "kernel" programs such as SPU control firmware 508 
and, if desired, encryption key information and certain 

20 fundamental "load modules." The "kernel" programs, load module 

information, and encryption key information enable the control of 
certain basic functions of the SPU 500. Those components that 
are at least in part dependent on device configuration (e.g., POST, 
memory allocation, and a dispatcher) may be loaded in ROM 532 

25 along with additional load modules that have been determined to 

be required for specific installations or applications. 


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Under some circumstances, RAM 534a and/or NVRAM 534b 
(NVRAM 534b may, for example, be constantly powered 
conventional RAM) may perform at least part of the role of ROM 
532. 

5 

SPU Internal RAM 

SPU 500 general purpose RAM 534 provides, among other 
things, secure execution space for secure processes. In the 
preferred embodiment, RAM 534 is comprised of different types of 
RAM such as a combination of high-speed RAM 534a and an 
NVRAM ("non-volatile RAM") 534b. RAM 534a may be volatile, 
while NVRAM 534b is preferably battery backed or otherwise 
arranged so as to be non-volatile (i.e., it does not lose its contents 
when power is turned off). 

High-speed RAM 534a stores active code to be executed and 
associated data structures. 


10 


15 


NVRAM 534b preferably contains certain keys and summary 
20 values that are preloaded as part of an initialization process in 

which SPU 500 communicates with a VDE administrator, and may 
also store changeable or changing information associated with the 
operation of SPU 500. For security reasons, certain highly 
sensitive information (e.g., certain load modules and certain 
25 encryption key related information such as internally generated 

private keys) needs to be loaded into or generated internally by 


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SPU 500 from time to time but, once loaded or generated 
internally, should never leave the SPU. In this preferred 
embodiment, the SPU 500 non-volatile random access memory 
(NVRAM) 534b may be used for securely storing such highly 
5 sensitive information. NVRAM 534b is also used by SPU 500 to 

store data that may change frequently but which preferably should 
not be lost in a power down or power fail mode. 

NVRAM 534b is preferably a flash memory array, but may 
10 in addition or alternatively be electrically erasable programmable 

read only memory (EEPROM), static RAM (SRAM), bubble 
memory, three dimensional holographic or other electro-optical 
memory, or the like, or any other writable (e.g., randomly 
accessible) non-volatile memory of sufficient speed and 
15 cost-effectiveness. 

SPU External Memory 

The SPU 500 can store certain information on memory 
devices external to the SPU. If available, electronic appliance 600 

20 memory can also be used to support any device external portions 

of SPU 500 software. Certain advantages may be gained by 
allowing the SPU 500 to use external memory. As one example, 
memory internal to SPU 500 may be reduced in size by using 
non-volatile read/write memory in the host electronic appliance 

25 600 such as a non-volatile portion of RAM 656 and/or ROM 658. 


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Such external memory may be used to store SPU programs, 
data and/or other information. For example, a VDE control 
program may be, at least in part, loaded into the memory and 
communicated to and decrypted within SPU 500 prior to execution. 
5 Such control programs may be re-encrypted and communicated 

back to external memory where they may be stored for later 
execution by SPU 500. "Kernel" programs and/or some or all of 
the non-kernel "load modules" may be stored by SPU 500 in 
memory external to it. Since a secure database 610 may be 
10 relatively large, SPU 500 can store some or all of secure database 

610 in external memory and call portions into the SPU 500 as 
needed. 

As mentioned above, memory external to SPU 500 may not 
15 be secure. Therefore, when security is required, SPU 500 must 

encrypt secure information before writing it to external memory, 
and decrypt secure information read from external memory before 
using it. Inasmuch as the encryption layer relies on secure 
processes and information (e.g., encryption algorithms and keys) 
20 present within SPU 500, the encryption layer effectively "extends" 

the SPU security barrier 502 to protect information the SPU 500 
stores in memory external to it. 

SPU 500 can use a wide variety of different types of external 
25 memory. For example, external memory may comprise electronic 

appliance secondary storage 652 such as a disk; external EEPROM 


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or flash memory 658; and/or external RAM 656. External RAM 
656 may comprise an external nonvolatile (e.g. constantly 
powered) RAM and/or cache RAM. 

5 Using external RAM local to SPU 500 can significantly 

improve access times to information stored externally to an SPU. 
For example, external RAM may be used: 

to buffer memory image pages and data structures prior to 
their storage in flash memory or on an external hard disk 
10 (assuming transfer to flash or hard disk can occur in 

significant power or system failure cases); 
provide encryption and decryption buffers for data being 
released from VDE objects 300. 

to cache "swap blocks" and VDE data structures currently in 
15 use as an aspect of providing a secure virtual memory 

environment for SPU 500. 

to cache other information in order to, for example, reduce 
frequency of access by an SPU to secondary storage 652 
and/or for other reasons. 
20 Dual ported external RAM can be particularly effective in 

improving SPU 500 performance, since it can decrease the data 
movement overhead of the SPU bus interface unit 530 and SPU 
microprocessor 520. 


25 


Using external flash memory local to SPU 500 can be used 
to significantly improve access times to virtually all data 


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structures. Since most available flash storage devices have limited 
write lifetimes, flash storage needs to take into account the 
number of writes that will occur during the lifetime of the flash 
memory. Hence, flash storage of frequently written temporary 
items is not recommended. If external RAM is non-volatile, then 
transfer to flash (or hard disk) may not be necessary. 

External memory used by SPU 500 may include two 
categories: 

external memory dedicated to SPU 500, and 
• memory shared with electronic appliance 600. 

For some VDE implementations, sharing memory (e.g., 
electronic appliance RAM 656, ROM 658 and/or secondary storage 
652) with CPU 654 or other elements of an electronic appliance 
600 may be the most cost effective way to store VDE secure 
database management files 610 and information that needs to be 
stored external to SPU 500. A host system hard disk secondary 
memory 652 used for general purpose file storage can, for example, 
also be used to store VDE management files 610. SPU 500 may be 
given exclusive access to the external memory (e.g., over a local 
bus high speed connection provided by BIU 530). Both dedicated 
and shared external memory may be provided. 

****** 


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The hardware configuration of an example of electronic 
appliance 600 has been described above. The following section 
describes an example of the software architecture of electronic 
appliance 600 provided by the preferred embodiment, including 
5 the structure and operation of preferred embodiment "Rights 

Operating System" ("ROS") 602. 

Rights Operating System 602 

Rights Operating System ("ROS") 602 in the preferred 

10 embodiment is a compact, secure, event-driven, services-based, 

"component" oriented, distributed multiprocessing operating 
system environment that integrates VDE information security 
control information, components and protocols with traditional 
operating system concepts. Like traditional operating systems, 

15 ROS 602 provided by the preferred embodiment is a piece of 

software that manages hardware resources of a computer system 
and extends management functions to input and/or output devices, 
including communications devices. Also like traditional operating 
systems, preferred embodiment ROS 602 provides a coherent set of 

20 basic functions and abstraction layers for hiding the differences 

between, and many of the detailed complexities of, particular 
hardware implementations. In addition to these characteristics 
found in many or most operating systems, ROS 602 provides 
secure VDE transaction management and other advantageous 

25 features not found in other operating systems. The following is a 


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non-exhaustive list of some of the advantageous features provided 
by ROS 602 in the preferred embodiment: 

Standardized interface provides coherent set of basic functions 
5 • simplifies programming 

• the same application can run on many different platforms 
Event driven 

• eases functional decomposition 

• extendible 

10 • accommodates state transition and/or process oriented 

events 

• simplifies task management 

• simplifies inter-process communications 
Services based 

15 • allows simplified and transparent scalability 

• simplifies multiprocessor support 

• hides machine dependencies 

• eases network management and support 
Component Based Architecture 

20 • processing based on independently deliverable secure 

components 

• component model of processing control allows different 
sequential steps that are reconfigurable based on 
requirements 

25 • components can be added, deleted or modified (subject to 

permissioning) 


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10 


15 


20 


full control information over pre-defined and user-defined 
application events 

events can be individually controlled with independent 
executables 

Secure 

secure communications 
secure control functions 
secure virtual memory management 
information control structures protected from exposure 
data elements are validated, correlated and access controlled 
components are encrypted and validated independently 
components are tightly correlated to prevent unauthorized 
use of elements 

control structures and secured executables are validated 
prior to use to protect against tampering 
integrates security considerations at the I/O level 
provides on-the-fly decryption of information at release time 
enables a secure commercial transaction network 
flexible key management features 
Scalaeble 


25 


highly scalaeble across many different platforms 
supports concurrent processing in a multiprocessor 
environment 

supports multiple cooperating processors 

any number of host or security processors can be supported 


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• control structures and kernel are easily portable to various 
host platforms and to different processors within a target 
platform without recompilation 

• supports remote processing 

• Remote Procedure Calls may be used for internal OS 
communications 

Highly Intecrratable 

• can be highly integrated with host platforms as an 
additional operating system layer 

permits non-secure storage of secured components and 
information using an OS layer n on top of traditional OS 
platforms 

• can be seamlessly integrated with a host operating system to 
provide a common usage paradigm for transaction 
management and content access 

• integration may take many forms: operating system layers 
for desktops (e.g., DOS, Windows, Macintosh); device drivers 
and operating system interfaces for network services (e.g, 
Unix and Netware); and dedicated component drivers for 
w low end" set tops are a few of many examples 

• can be integrated in traditional and real time operating 
systems 

Distributed 

• provides distribution of control information and reciprocal 
control information and mechanisms 


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10 


15 


20 


25 


supports conditional execution of controlled processes within 
any VDE node in a distributed, asynchronous arrangement 
controlled delegation of rights in a distributed environment 
supports chains of handling and control 
management environment for distributed, occasionally 
connected but otherwise asynchronous networked database 
real time and time independent data management 
supports "agent" processes 
Transparent 


can be seamlessly integrated into existing operating systems 
can support applications not specifically written to use it 
Network friendly 


internal OS structures may use RPCs to distribute 
processing 

subnets may seamlessly operate as a single node or 
independently 

General Background Regarding Operating Systems 

An "operating system" provides a control mechanism for 
organizing computer system resources that allows programmers to 
create applications for computer systems more easily. An 
operating system does this by providing commonly used functions, 
and by helping to ensure compatibility between different computer 
hardware and architectures (which may, for example, be 
manufactured by different vendors). Operating systems also 
enable computer "peripheral device" manufacturers to far more 


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easily supply compatible equipment to computer manufacturers 
and users. 

Computer systems are usually made up of several different 
hardware components. These hardware components include, for 
example: 

a central processing unit (CPU) for executing instructions; 

an array of main memory ceUs (e.g., "RAM" or "ROM") for 
storing instructions for execution and data acted upon or 
parameterizing those instructions; and 

one or more secondary storage devices (e.g., hard disk drive, 
floppy disk drive, CD-ROM drive, tape reader, card reader, 
or "flash" memory) organized to reflect named elements (a 
"file system") for storing images of main memory cells. 
Most computer systems also include input/output devices such as 
keyboards, mice, video systems, printers, scanners and 
communications devices. 

To organize the CPUs execution capabilities with available 
RAM, ROM and secondary storage devices, and to provide 
commonly used functions for use by programmers, a piece of 
software called an "operating system" is usually included with the 
other components. Typically, this piece of software is designed to 
begin executing after power is applied to the computer system and 


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hardware diagnostics are completed. Thereafter, all use of the 
CPU, main memory and secondary memory devices is normally 
managed by this "operating system" software. Most computer 
operating systems also typically include a mechanism for 
5 extending their management functions to I/O and other peripheral 

devices, including commonly used functions associated with these 
devices. 

By managing the CPU, memory and peripheral devices 
10 through the operating system, a coherent set of basic functions and 

abstraction layers for hiding hardware details allows programmers 
to more easily create sophisticated applications. In addition, 
managing the computer's hardware resources with an operating 
system allows many differences in design and equipment 
15 requirements between different manufacturers to be hidden. 

Furthermore, applications can be more easily shared with other 
computer users who have the same operating system, with 
significantly less work to support different manufacturers' base 
hardware and peripheral devices. 

20 

ROS 602 is an Operating System Providing Significant Advantages 

wns fin? is an " ^prating system." It manages the resources 
of electronic appliance 600, and provides a commonly used set of 
functions for programmers writing applications 608 for the 
25 electronic appliance. ROS 602 in the preferred embodiment 

manages the hardware (e.g., CPU(s), memory(ies), secure RTC(s), 


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and encrypt/decrypt engines) within SPU 500. ROS may also 
manage the hardware (e.g., CPU(s) and memory(ies)) within one or 
more general purpose processors within electronic appliance 600. 
ROS 602 also manages other electronic appliance hardware 
resources, such as peripheral devices attached to an electronic 
appliance. For example, referring to Figure 7, ROS 602 may 
manage keyboard 612, display 614, modem 618, disk drive 620, 
printer 622, scanner 624. ROS 602 may also manage secure 
database 610 and a storage device (e.g., "secondary storage" 652) 
vised to store secure database 610. 

ROS 602 supports multiple processors. ROS 602 in the 
preferred embodiment supports any number of local and/or remote 
processors. Supported processors may include at least two types: 
one or more electronic appliance processors 654, and/or one or 
more SPUs 500. A host processor CPU 654 may provide storage, 
database, and communications services. SPU 500 may provide 
cryptographic and secured process execution services. Diverse 
control and execution structures supported by ROS 602 may 
require that processing of control information occur within a 
controllable execution space - this controllable execution space 
may be provided by SPU 500. Additional host and/or SPU 
processors may increase efficiencies and/or capabilities. ROS 602 
may access, coordinate and/or manage further processors remote to 
an electronic appliance 600 (e.g., via network or other 


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10 


15 


20 


communications link) to provide additional processor resources 
and/or capabilities. 

ff nc ano <, R »rvir« s based. The ROS services provided using 
a host processor 654 and/or a secure processor (SPU 500) are 
linked in the preferred embodiment using a "Remote Procedure 
Call" ("RPC") internal processing request structure. Cooperating 
processors may request interprocess services using a RPC 
mechanism, which is minimally time dependent and can be 
distributed over cooperating processors on a network of hosts. The 
multi-processor architecture provided by ROS 602 is easily 
extensible to support any number of host or security processors. 
This extensibility supports high levels of scalability. Services also 
allow functions to be implemented differently on different 
equipment. For example, a small appliance that typically has low 
levels of usage by one user may implement a database service 
using very different techniques than a very large appliance with 
high levels of usage by many users. This is another aspect of 
scalability. 


ROS 602 prrwirtes a distr ibuted processing environment. 
For example, it permits information and control structures to 
automatically, securely pass between sites as required to fulfill a 
user's requests. Communications between VDE nodes under the 
25 distributed processing features of ROS 602 may include 

interprocess service requests as discussed above. ROS 602 


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supports conditional and/or state dependent execution of controlled 
processors within any VDE node. The location that the process 
executes and the control structures used may be locally resident, 
remotely accessible, or carried along by the process to support 
5 execution on a remote system. 

ROS 602 provides distribution of control information, 
including for example the distribution of control structures 
required to permit "agents" to operate in remote environments. 
10 Thus, ROS 602 provides facilities for passing execution and/or 

information control as part of emerging requirements for "agent" 
processes. 

If desired, ROS 602 may independently distribute control 
15 information over very low bandwidth connections that may or may 

not be "real time" connections. ROS 602 provided by the preferred 
embodiment is "network friendly," and can be implemented with 
any level of networking protocol. Some examples include e-mail 
and direct connection at approximately "Layer 5" of the ISO model. 

20 

The ROS 602 distribution process (and the associated 
auditing of distributed information) is a controlled event that itself 
uses such control structures. This "reflective" distributed 
25 processing mechanism permits ROS 602 to securely distribute 

rights and permissions in a controlled manner, and effectively 


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restrict the characteristics of use of information content. The 
controlled delegation of rights in a distributed environment and 
the secure processing techniques used by ROS 602 to support this 
approach provide significant advantages. 

5 

Certain control mechanisms within ROS 602 are 
"reciprocal." Reciprocal control mechanisms place one or more 
control components at one or more locations that interact with one 
or more components at the same or other locations in a controlled 

10 way. For example, a usage control associated with object content 

at a user's location may have a reciprocal control at a distributor's 
location that governs distribution of the usage control, auditing of 
the usage control, and logic to process user requests associated 
with the usage control. A usage control at a user's location (in 

15 addition to controlling one or more aspects of usage) may prepare 

audits for a distributor and format requests associated with the 
usage control for processing by a distributor. Processes at either 
end of a reciprocal control may be further controlled by other 
processes (e.g., a distributor may be limited by a budget for the 

20 number of usage control mechanisms they may produce). 

Reciprocal control mechanisms may extend over many sites and 
many levels (e.g., a creator to a distributor to a user) and may 
take any relationship into account (e.g., creator/distributor, 
distributor/user, user/user, user/creator, user/creator/distributor, 

25 etc.) Reciprocal control mechanisms have many uses in VDE 100 

in representing relationships and agreements in a distributed environment. 


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ROS 602 is scalable. Many portions of ROS 602 control 
structures and kernel(s) are easily portable to various host 
platforms without recompilation. Any control structure may be 
distributed (or redistributed) if a granting authority permits this 
type of activity. The executable references within ROS 602 are 
portable within a target platform. Different instances of ROS 602 
may execute the references using different resources. For 
example, one instance of ROS 602 may perform a task using an 
SPU 500, while another instance of ROS 602 might perform the 
same task using a host processing environment running in 
protected memory that is emulating an SPU in software. ROS 602 
control informationis similarly portable; in many cases the event 
processing structures may be passed between machines and host 
platforms as easily as between cooperative processors in a single 
computer. Appliances with different levels of usage and/or 
resources available for ROS 602 functions may implement those 
functions in very different ways. Some services may be omitted 
entirely if insufficient resources exist. As described elsewhere, 
ROS 602 Tcnows" what services are available, and how to proceed 
based on any given event. Not all events may be processable if 
resources are missing or inadequate. 

ROS 602 is component based. Much of the functionality 
provided by ROS 602 in the preferred embodiment may be based 
on "components" that can be securely, independently deliverable, 
replaceable and capable of being modified (e.g., under 


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appropriately secure conditions and authorizations). Moreover, the 
"components" may themselves be made of independently 
deliverable elements. ROS 602 may assemble these elements 
together (using a construct provided by the preferred embodiment 

5 called a "channel") at execution time. For example, a load 

module" for execution by SPU 500 may reference one or more 
"method cores," method parameters and other associated data 
structures that ROS 602 may collect and assemble together to 
perform a task such as billing or metering. Different users may 

10 have different combinations of elements, and some of the elements 

may be customizable by users with appropriate authorization. 
This increases flexibility, allows elements to be reused, and has 
other advantages. 


15 


•ROS fi02 is highly secure. ROS 602 provides mechanisms to 
protect information control structures from exposure by end users 
and conduit hosts. ROS 602 can protect information, VDE control 
structures and control executables using strong encryption and 
validation mechanisms. These encryption and validation 
20 mechanisms are designed to make them highly resistant to 

undetected tampering. ROS 602 encrypts information stored on 
secondary storage device(s) 652 to inhibit tampering. ROS 602 
also separately encrypts and validates its various components. 
ROS 602 correlates control and data structure components to 
25 prevent unauthorized use of elements. These features permit ROS 

602 to independently distribute elements, and also allows 


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integration of VDE functions 604 with non-secure "other" OS 
functions 606. 

ROS 602 provided by the preferred embodiment extends 
conventional capabilities such as, for example, Access Control List 
(ACL) structures, to user and process defined events, including 
state transitions. ROS 602 may provide full control information 
over pre-defined and user-defined application events. These 
control mechanisms include "go/no-go" permissions, and also 
include optional event-specific executables that permit complete 
flexibility in the processing and/or controlling of events. This 
structure permits events to be individually controlled so that, for 
example, metering and budgeting may be provided using 
independent executables. For example, ROS 602 extends ACL 
structures to control arbitrary granularity of information. 
Traditional operating systems provide static "go-no go" control 
mechanisms at a file or resource level; ROS 602 extends the 
control concept in a general way from the largest to the smallest 
sub-element using a flexible control structure. ROS 602 can, for 
example, control the printing of a single paragraph out of a 
document file. 

ROS 602 provided by the preferred embodiment permits 
secure modification and update of control information governing 
each component. The control information may be provided in a 
template format such as method options to an end-user. An 


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end-user may then customize the actual control information used 
within guidelines provided by a distributor or content creator. 
Modification and update of existing control structures is preferably 
also a controllable event subject to auditing and control 

information. 

ROS 602 provided by the preferred embodiment validates 
control structures and secured executables prior to use. This 
validation provides assurance that control structures and 
executables have not been tampered with by end-users. The 
validation also permits ROS 602 to securely implement 
components that include fragments of files and other operating 
system structures. ROS 602 provided by the preferred 
embodiment integrates security considerations at the operating 
system I/O level (which is below the access level), and provides 
"on-the-fly" decryption of information at release time. These 
features permit non-secure storage of ROS 602 secured 
components and information using an OS layer "on top or 
traditional operating system platforms. 

POS R02 is hit^lv intertable with host platforms as an 
additional operating system layer. Thus, ROS 602 may be created 
by "adding on" to existing operating systems. This involves 
hooking VDE "add ons" to the host operating system at the device 
driver and network interface levels. Alternatively, ROS 602 may 


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6 • 


comprise a wholly new operating system that integrates both VDE 
functions and other operating system functions. 

Indeed, there are at least three general approaches to 
integrating VDE functions into a new operating system, 
potentially based on an existing operating system, to create a 
Rights Operating System 602 including: 

(1) Redesign the operating system based on VDE 
transaction management requirements; 

(2) Compile VDE API functions into an existing operating 
systems; and 

(3) Integrate a VDE Interpreter into an existing operating 
system. 

The first approach could be most effectively applied when a 
new operating system is being designed, or if a significant upgrade 
to an existing operating system is planned. The transaction 
management and security requirements provided by the VDE 
functions could be added to the design requirements list for the 
design of a new operating system that provides, in an optimally 
efficient manner, an integration of "traditional" operating system 
capabilities and VDE capabilities. For example, the engineers 
responsible for the design of the new version or instance of an 
operating system would include the requirements of VDE 
metering/transaction management in addition to other 
requirements (if any) that they use to form their design approach, 


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specifications, and actual implementations. This approach could 
lead to a "seamless" integration of VDE functions and capabilities 
by threading metering/transaction management functionality 
throughout the system design and implementation. 

The second approach would involve taking an existing set of 
API (Application Programmer Interface) functions, and 
incorporating references in the operating system code to VDE 
function calls. This is similar to the way that the current 

10 Windows operating system is integrated with DOS, wherein DOS 

serves as both the launch point and as a significant portion of the 
kernel underpinning of the Windows operating system. This 
approach would be also provide a high degree of "seamless" 
integration (although not quite as "seamless" as the first 

15 approach). The benefits of this approach include the possibility 

that the incorporation of metering/transaction management 
functionality into the new version or instance of an operating 
system may be accomplished with lower cost (by making use of the 
existing code embodied in an API, and also using the design 

20 implications of the API functional approach to influence the design 

of the elements into which the metering/transaction management 
functionality is incorporated). 

The third approach is distinct from the first two in that it 
25 does not incorporate VDE functionality associated with 

metering/transaction management and data security directly into 


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the operating system code, but instead adds a new generalized 
capability to the operating system for executing 
metering/transaction management functionality. In this case, an 
interpreter including metering/transaction management functions 
would be integrated with other operating system code in a "stand 
alone" mode. This interpreter might take scripts or other inputs to 
determine what metering/transaction management functions 
should be performed, and in what order and under which 
circumstances or conditions they should be performed. 

Instead of (or in addition to) integrating VDE functions 
into/with an electronic appliance operating system, it would be 
possible to provide certain VDE functionality available as an 
application running on a conventional operating system. 

ROS Software Architecture 

Figure 10 is a block diagram of one example of a software 
structure/architecture for Rights Operating System ("ROS") 602 
provided by the preferred embodiment. In this example, ROS 602 
includes an operating system ("OS") "core" 679, a user Application 
Program Interface ("API") 682, a "redirector" 684, an "intercept" 
692, a User Notification/Exception Interface 686, and a file system 
687. ROS 602 in this example also includes one or more Host 
Event Processing Environments ("HPEs") 655 and/or one or more 
Secure Event Processing Environments ("SPEs") 503 (these 


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environments may be genericaUy referred to as "Protected 
Processing Environments" 650). 

HPE(s) 655 and SPE(s) 503 are self-contained computing 
5 and processing environments that may include their own operating 

system kernel 688 including code and data processing resources. 
A given electronic appliance 600 may include any number of 
SPE(s) 503 and/or any number of HPE(s) 655. HPE(s) 655 and 
SPE(s) 503 may process information in a secure way, and provide 
10 secure processing support for ROS 602. For example, they may 

each perform secure processing based on one or more VDE 
component assemblies 690, and they may each offer secure 
processing services to OS kernel 680. 

15 In the preferred embodiment, SPE 503 is a secure processing 

environment provided at least in part by an SPU 500. Thus, SPU 
500 provides the hardware tamper-resistant barrier 503 
surrounding SPE 503. SPE 503 provided by the preferred 
embodiment is preferably: 
2Q • small and compact 

loadable into resource constrained environments 
such as for example minimally configured SPUs 
500 

• dynamically updatable 
25 • extensible by authorized users 


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• integratable into object or procedural 
environments 

• secure. 

In the preferred embodiment, HPE 655 is a secure 
processing environment supported by a processor other than an 
SPU, such as for example an electronic appliance CPU 654 
general-purpose microprocessor or other processing system or 
device. In the preferred embodiment, HPE 655 may be considered 
to "emulate" an SPU 500 in the sense that it may use software to 
provide some or all of the processing resources provided in 
hardware and/or firmware by an SPU. HPE 655 in one preferred 
embodiment of the present invention is full-featured and fully 
compatible with SPE 503— that is, HPE 655 can handle each and 
every service call SPE 503 can handle such that the SPE and the 
HPE are "plug compatible" from an outside interface standpoint 
(with the exception that the HPE may not provide as much 
security as the SPE). 

HPEs 655 may be provided in two types: secure and not 
secure. For example, it may be desirable to provide non-secure 
versions of HPE 655 to allow electronic appliance 600 to efficiently 
run non-sensitive VDE tasks using the full resources of a fast 
general purpose processor or computer. Such non-secure versions 
of HPE 655 may run under supervision of an instance of ROS 602 
that also includes an SPE 503. In this way, ROS 602 may run all 


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secure processes within SPE 503, and only use HPE 655 for 
processes that do not require security but that may require (or run 
more efficiently) under potentially greater resources provided by a 
general purpose computer or processor supporting HPE 655. Non- 
5 secure and secure HPE 655 may operate together with a secure 

SPE 503. 

HPEs 655 may (as shown in Figure 10) be provided with a 
software-based tamper resistant barrier 674 that makes them 
10 more secure. Such a software-based tamper resistant barrier 674 

may be created by software executing on general-purpose CPU 

654. Such a "secure" HPE 655 can be used by ROS 602 to execute 
processes that, while still needing security, may not require the 
degree of security provided by SPU 500. This can be especially 

15 beneficial in architectures providing both an SPE 503 and an HPE 

655. The SPU 502 may be used to perform all truly secure 
processing, whereas one or more HPEs 655 may be used to provide 
additional secure (albeit possibly less secure than the SPE) 
processing using host processor or other general purpose resources 

20 that may be available within an electronic appliance 600. Any 

service may be provided by such a secure HPE 655. In the 
preferred embodiment, certain aspects of "channel processing" 
appears to be a candidate that could be readily exported from SPE 
503 to HPE 655. 


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The software-based tamper resistant barrier 674 provided by 
HPE 655 may be provided, for example, by: introducing time 
checks and/or code modifications to complicate the process of 
stepping through code comprising a portion of kernel 688a and/or a 
5 portion of component assemblies 690 using a debugger; using a 

map of defects on a storage device (e.g., a hard disk, memory card, 
etc.) to form internal test values to impede moving and/or copying 
HPE 655 to other electronic appliances 600; using kernel code that 
contains false branches and other complications in flow of control 

10 to disguise internal processes to some degree from disassembly or 

other efforts to discover details of processes; using "self- 
generating" code (based on the output of a co-sine transform, for 
example) such that detailed and/or complete instruction sequences 
are not stored explicitly on storage devices and/or in active 

15 memory but rather are generated as needed; using code that 

"shuffles" memory locations used for data values based on 
operational parameters to complicate efforts to manipulate such 
values; vising any software and/or hardware memory management 
resources of electronic appliance 600 to "protect" the operation of 

20 HPE 655 from other processes, functions, etc. Although such a 

software-based tamper resistant barrier 674 may provide a fair 
degree of security, it typically will not be as secure as the 
hardware-based tamper resistant barrier 502 provided (at least in 
part) by SPU 500. Because security may be better/more effectively 

25 enforced with the assistance of hardware security features such as 

those provided by SPU 500 (and because of other factors such as 


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increased performance provided by special purpose circuitry vathm 
SPU 500), at least one SPE 503 is preferred for marry or most 
higher security applications. However, in applications where 
lesser security can be tolerated and/or the cost of an SPU 500 
cannot be tolerated, the SPE 503 may be omitted and all secure 
processing may instead be performed by one or more secure HPEs 
655 executing on general-purpose CPUs 654. Some VDE processes 
may not be allowed to proceed on reduced-security electrons 
appliances of dus type if insufficient security is provided for the 
particular process involved. 

Only those processes that execute completely within SPEs 
503 (and in some cases, HPEs 655) may be considered to be truly 
secure. Memory and other resources external to SPE 503 and 
HPEs 655 used to store and/or process code and/or data to be used 
in secure processes should only receive and handle that 
information in encrypted form unless SPE 503/HPE 655 can 
protect secure process code and/or data from non-secure processes. 


OS "core" 679 in the preferred embodiment includes a kernel 
680 an RPC manager 732, and an "object switch" 734. API 682, 
HPE 655 and SPE 503 may communicate "event" messages with 
one another via OS "core" 679. They may also communicate 
messages directly with one another without messages going 
through OS "core" 679. 


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Kernel 680 may manage the hardware of an electronic 
appliance 600. For example, it may provide appropriate drivers 
and hardware managers for interacting with input/output and/or 
peripheral devices such as keyboard 612, display 614, other 
5 devices such as a "mouse" pointing device and speech recognizer 

613, modem 618, printer 622, and an adapter for network 672. 
Kernel 680 may also be responsible for initially loading the 
remainder of ROS 602, and may manage the various ROS tasks 
(and associated underlying hardware resources) during execution. 
10 OS kernel 680 may also manage and access secure database 610 

and file system 687. OS kernel 680 also provides execution 
services for applications 608a(l), 608a(2), etc. and other 
applications. 

15 RPC manager 732 performs messaging routing and resource 

management/integration for ROS 680. It receives and routes 
"calls" from/to API 682, HPE 655 and SPE 503, for example. 

Object switch 734 may manage construction, deconstruction 
20 and other manipulation of VDE objects 300. 

User Notification/Exception Interface 686 in the preferred 
embodiment (which may be considered part of API 682 or another 
application coupled to the API) provides "pop up" windows/displays 
25 on display 614. This allows ROS 602 to communicate directly with 

a user without having to pass information to be communicated 


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through applications 608. For applications that are not "VDE 
aware," user notification/exception interface 686 may provide 
communications between ROS 602 and the user. 

5 API 682 in the preferred embodiment provides a 

standardized, documented software interface to applications 608. 
In part, API 682 may translate operating system "calls" generated 
by applications 608 into Remote Procedure Calls ("RPCs") 
specifying "events." RPC manager 732 may route these RPCs to 

10 kernel 680 or elsewhere (e.g., to HPE(s) 655 and/or SPE(s) 503, or 

to remote electronic appliances 600, processors, or VDE 
participants) for processing. The API 682 may also service RPC 
requests by passing them to applications 608 that register to 
receive and process specific requests. 


15 


20 


API 682 provides an "Applications Programming Interface" 
that is preferably standardized and documented. It provides a 
concise set of function calls an application program can use to 
access services provided by ROS 602. In at least one preferred 
example, API 682 will include two parts: an application program 
interface to VDE functions 604; and an application program 
interface to other OS functions 606. These parts may be 
interwoven into the same software, or they may be provided as two 
or more discrete pieces of software (for example). 


25 


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Some applications, such as application 608a(l) shown in 
Figure 11, may be "VDE aware" and may therefore directly access 
both of these parts of API 682. Figure 11A shows an example of 
this. A "VDE aware" application may, for example, include explicit 
5 calls to ROS 602 requesting the creation of new VDE objects 300, 

metering usage of VDE objects, storing information in VDE- 
protected form, etc. Thus, a "VDE aware" application can initiate 
(and, in some examples, enhance and/or extend) VDE functionality 
provided by ROS 602. In addition, "VDE aware" applications may 
10 provide a more direct interface between a user and ROS 602 (e.g., 

by suppressing or otherwise dispensing with "pop up" displays 
otherwise provided by user notification/exception interface 686 and 
instead providing a more "seamless" interface that integrates 
application and ROS messages). 

15 

Other applications, such as application 608b shown in 
Figure 11B, may not be "VDE Aware" and therefore may not 
"know" how to directly access an interface to VDE functions 604 
provided by API 682. To provide for this, ROS 602 may include a 

20 "redirector" 684 that allows such "non-VDE aware" applications 

608(b) to access VDE objects 300 and functions 604. Redirector 
684, in the preferred embodiment, translates OS calls directed to 
the "other OS functions" 606 into calls to the "VDE functions" 604. 
As one simple example, redirector 684 may intercept a "file open" 

25 call from application 608(b), determine whether the file to be 

opened is contained within a VDE container 300, and if it is, 


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10 


15 


20 


generate appropriate VDE function call(s) to file system 687 to 
open the VDE container (and potentially generate events to HPE 
655 and/or SPE 503 to determine the name(s) of file(s) that may be 
stored in a VDE object 300, establish a control structure associated 
with a VDE object 300, perform a registration for a VDE object 
300, etc.). Without redirector 684 in this example, a non-VDE 
aware application such as 608b could access only the part of API 
682 that provides an interface to other OS functions 606, and 
therefore could not access any VDE functions. 


This "translation" feature of redirector 684 provides 
"transparency." It allows VDE functions to be provided to the 
application 608(b) in a "transparent" way without requiring the 
application to become involved in the complexity and details 
associated with generating the one or more calls to VDE functions 
604. This aspect of the "transparency" features of ROS 602 has at 
least two important advantages: 

(a) it allows applications not written specifically for VDE 
functions 604 ("non-VDE aware applications") to 
nevertheless access critical VDE functions; and 

(b) it reduces the complexity of the interface between an 
application and ROS 602. 

Since the second advantage (reducing complexity) makes it easier 
for an application creator to produce applications, even "VDE 
25 aware" applications 608a(2) may be designed so that some calls 

invoking VDE functions 604 are requested at the level of an "other 


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OS functions" call and then "translated" by redirector 684 into a 
VDE function call (in this sense, redirector 684 may be considered 
a part of API 682). Figure 11C shows an example of this. Other 
calls invoking VDE functions 604 may be passed directly without 
translation by redirector 684. 

Referring again to Figure 10, ROS 620 may also include an 
"interceptor" 692 that transmits and/or receives one or more real 
time data feeds 694 (this may be provided over cable(s) 628 for 
example), and routes one or more such data feeds appropriately 
while providing "translation" functions for real time data sent 
and/or received by electronic appliance 600 to allow "transparency" 
for this type of information analogous to the transparency provided 
by redirector 684 (and/or it may generate one or more real time 
data feeds). 

Secure ROS Components and Component Assemblies 

As discussed above, ROS 602 in the preferred embodiment is 
a component-based architecture. ROS VDE functions 604 may be 
based on segmented, independently loadable executable 
"component assemblies" 690. These component assemblies 690 are 
independently securely deliverable. The component assemblies 
690 provided by the preferred embodiment comprise code and data 
elements that are themselves independently deliverable. Thus, 
each component assembly 690 provided by the preferred 
embodiment is comprised of independently securely deliverable 


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elements which may be communicated using VDE secure 
communication techniques, between VDE secure subsystems. 

These component assemblies 690 are the basic functional 
5 unit provided by ROS 602. The component assemblies 690 are 

executed to perform operating system or application tasks. Thus, 
some component assemblies 690 may be considered to be part of 
the ROS operating system 602, while other component assemblies 
may be considered to be "applications" that run under the support 

10 of the operating system. As with any system incorporating 

"applications" and "operating systems," the boundary between 
these aspects of an overall system can be ambiguous. For 
example, commonly used "application" functions (such as 
determining the structure and/or other attributes of a content 

15 container) may be incorporated into an operating system. 

Furthermore, "operating system" functions (such as task 
management, or memory allocation) may be modified and/or 
replaced by an application. A common thread in the preferred 
embodiment's ROS 602 is that component assemblies 690 provide 

20 functions needed for a user to fulfill her intended activities, some 

of which may be "application-like" and some of which may be 
"operating system-like." 

Components 690 are preferably designed to be easily 
25 separable and individually loadable. ROS 602 assembles these 

elements together into an executable component assembly 690 


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prior to loading and executing the component assembly (e.g., in a 
secure operating environment such as SPE 503 and/or HPE 655). 
ROS 602 provides an element identification and referencing 
mechanism that includes information necessary to automatically 
5 assemble elements into a component assembly 690 in a secure 

manner prior to, and/or during, execution. 

ROS 602 application structures and control parameters used 
to form component assemblies 690 can be provided by different 

10 parties. Because the components forming component assemblies 

690 are independently securely deliverable, they may be delivered 
at different times and/or by different parties ("delivery" may take 
place within a local VDE secure subsystem, that is submission 
through the use of such a secure subsystem of control information 

15 by a chain of content control information handling participant for 

the preparation of a modified control information set constitutes 
independent, secure delivery). For example, a content creator can 
produce a ROS 602 application that defines the circumstances 
required for licensing content contained within a VDE object 300. 

20 This application may reference structures provided by other 

parties. Such references might, for example, take the form of a 
control path that uses content creator structures to meter user 
activities; and structures created/owned by a financial provider to 
handle financial parts of a content distribution transaction (e.g., 

25 defining a credit budget that must be present in a control 

structure to establish creditworthiness, audit processes which 


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must be performed by the licensee, etc.). As another example, a 
distributor may give one user more favorable pricing than another 
user by delivering different data elements defining pricing to 
different users. This attribute of supporting multiple party 
securely, independently deliverable control information is 
fundamental to enabling electronic commerce, that is, defining of a 
content and/or appliance control information set that represents 
the requirements of a collection of independent parties such as 
content creators, other content providers, financial service 
providers, and/or users. 

In the preferred embodiment, ROS 602 assembles securely 
independently deliverable elements into a component assembly 
690 based in part on context parameters (e.g., object, user). Thus, 
for example, ROS 602 may securely assemble different elements 
together to form different component assemblies 690 for different 
users performing the same task on the same VDE object 300. 
Similarly, ROS 602 may assemble differing element sets which 
may include, that is reuse, one or more of the same components to 
form different component assemblies 690 for the same user 
performing the same task on different VDE objects 300. 

The component assembly organization provided by ROS 602 
is "recursive" in that a component assembly 690 may comprise one 
or more component "subassemblies" that are themselves 
independently loadable and executable component assemblies 690. 


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These component "subassemblies" may, in turn, be made of one or 
more component "sub-sub-assemblies." In the general case, a 
component assembly 690 may include N levels of component 
subassemblies. 

5 

Thus, for example, a component assembly 690(k) that may 
includes a component subassembly 690(k + 1). Component 
subassembly 690(k + 1), in turn, may include a component sub-sub- 
assembly 690(3), ... and so on to N-level subassembly 690(k + N). 
10 The ability of ROS 602 to build component assemblies 690 out of 

other component assemblies provides great advantages in terms of, 
for example, code/data reusability, and the ability to allow 
different parties to manage different parts of an overall 
component. 

15 

Each component assembly 690 in the preferred embodiment 
is made of distinct components. Figures 11D-11H are abstract 
depictions of various distinct components that may be assembled 
to form a component assembly 690(k) showing Figure 111. These 

20 same components can be combined in different ways (e.g., with 

more or less components) to form different component assemblies 
690 providing completely different functional behavior. Figure 11 J 
is an abstract depiction of the same components being put together 
in a different way (e.g., with additional components) to form a 

25 different component assembly 690(j). The component assemblies 

690(k) and 690(j) each include a common feature 691 that 


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interlocks with a "channel" 594 defined by ROS 602. This 
"channel" 594 assembles component assemblies 690 and interfaces 
them with the (rest of) ROS 602. 


ROS 602 generates component assemblies 690 in a secure 
manner. As shown graphically in Figures 111 and 11J, the 
different elements comprising a component assembly 690 may be 
"interlocking" in the sense that they can only go together in ways 
that are intended by the VDE participants who created the 
elements and/or specified the component assemblies. ROS 602 
includes security protections that can prevent an unauthorized 
person from modifying elements, and also prevent an unauthorized 
person from substituting elements. One can picture an 
unauthorized person making a new element having the same 
"shape" as the one of the elements shown in Figures 11D-11H, and 
then attempting to substitute the new element in place of the 
original element. Suppose one of the elements shown in Figure 
11H establishes the price for using content within a VDE object 
300. If an unauthorized person could substitute her own "price" 
element for the price element intended by the VDE content 
distributor, then the person could establish a price of zero instead 
of the price the content distributor intended to charge. Similarly, 
if the element establishes an electronic credit card, then an ability 
to substitute a different element could have disastrous 
consequences in terms of allowing a person to charge her usage to 
someone else's (or a non-existent) credit card. These are merely a 


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few simple examples demonstrating the importance of ROS 602 
ensuring that certain component assemblies 690 are formed in a 
secure manner. ROS 602 provides a wide range of protections 
against a wide range of "threats" to the secure handling and 
5 execution of component assemblies 690. 

In the preferred embodiment, ROS 602 assembles 
component assemblies 690 based on the following types of 
elements: 

10 Permissions Records ("PERC"s) 808; 

Method "Cores" 1000; 
Load Modules 1100; 

Data Elements (e.g., User Data Elements ("UDEs") 1200 and 
Method Data Elements ("MDEs") 1202); and 
15 Other component assemblies 690. 

Briefly, a PERC 808 provided by the preferred embodiment 
is a record corresponding to a VDE object 300 that identifies to 
ROS 602, among other things, the elements ROS is to assemble 

20 together to form a component assembly 690. Thus PERC 808 in 

effect contains a "list of assembly instructions" or a "plan" 
specifying what elements ROS 602 is to assemble together into a 
component assembly and how the elements are to be connected 
together. PERC 808 may itself contain data or other elements 

25 that are to become part of the component assembly 690. 


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The PERC 808 may reference one or more method "cores" 
1000'. A method core 1000' may define a basic "method" 1000 
(e.g., "control," "billing," "metering," etc.) 

In the preferred embodiment, a "method" 1000 is a collection 
of basic instructions, and information related to basic instructions, 
that provides context, data, requirements, and/or relationships for 
use in performing, and/or preparing to perform, basic instructions 
in relation to the operation of one or more electronic appliances 
600. Basic instructions may be comprised of, for example: 


machine code of the type commonly used in the 
programming of computers; pseudo-code for use by an 
interpreter or other instruction processing program 

15 operating on a computer; 

a sequence of electronically represented logical 
operations for use with an electronic appliance 600; 
• or other electronic representations of instructions, 
source code, object code, and/or pseudo code as those 

on terms are commonly understood in the arts. 


Information relating to said basic instructions may comprise, 
for example, data associated intrinsically with basic instructions 
such as for example, an identifier for the combined basic 
instructions and intrinsic data, addresses, constants, and/or the 


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like. The information may also, for example, include one or more 
of the following: 

information that identifies associated basic 

instructions and said intrinsic data for access, 

correlation and/or validation purposes; 

required and/or optional parameters for use with basic 

instructions and said intrinsic data; 

information defining relationships to other methods; 

data elements that may comprise data values, fields of 

information, and/or the like; 

information specifying and/or defining relationships 
among data elements, basic instructions and/or 
intrinsic data; 

information specifying relationships to external data 
elements; 

information specifying relationships between and 
among internal and external data elements, methods, 
and/or the like, if any exist; and 

• additional information required in the operation of 
basic instructions and intrinsic data to complete, or 
attempt to complete, a purpose intended by a user of a 
method, where required, including additional 
instructions and/or intrinsic data. 


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Such information associated with a method may be stored, 
in part or whole, separately from basic instructions and intrinsic 
data. When these components are stored separately, a method 
may nevertheless include and encompass the other information 
and one or more sets of basic instructions and intrinsic data (the 
latter being included because of said other information's reference 
to one or more sets of basic instructions and intrinsic data), 
whether or not said one or more sets of basic instructions and 
intrinsic data are accessible at any given point in time. 

Method core 1000' may be parameterized by an "event code" 
to permit it to respond to different events in different ways. For 
example, a METER method may respond to a "use" event by 
storing usage information in a meter data structure. The same 
METER method may respond to an "adininistrative" event by 
reporting the meter data structure to a VDE clearinghouse or 
other VDE participant. 

In the preferred embodiment, method core 1000' may 
"contain," either explicitly or by reference, one or more "load 
modules" 1100 and one or more data elements (UDEs 1200, MDEs 
1202). In the preferred embodiment, a "load module" 1100 is a 
portion of a method that reflects basic instructions and intrinsic 
data. Load modules 1100 in the preferred embodiment contain 
executable code, and may also contain data elements ("DTDs" 
1108) associated with the executable code. In the preferred 


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embodiment, load modules 1100 supply the program instructions 
that are actually "executed" by hardware to perform the process 
denned by the method. Load modules 1100 may contain or 
reference other load modules. 

Load modules 1100 in the preferred embodiment are 
modular and "code pure" so that individual load modules may be 
reenterable and reusable. In order for components 690 to be 
dynamically updatable, they may be individually addressable 
within a global public name space. In view of these design goals, 
load modules 1100 are preferably small, code (and code-like) pure 
modules that are individually named and addressable. A single 
method may provide different load modules 1100 that perform the 
same or similar functions on different platforms, thereby making 
the method scalable and/or portable across a wide range of 
different electronic appliances. 

UDEs 1200 and MDEs 1202 may store data for input to or 
output from executable component assembly 690 (or data 
describing such inputs and/or outputs). In the preferred 
embodiment, UDEs 1200 may be user dependent, whereas MDEs 
1202 may be user independent. 

The component assembly example 690(k) shown in Figure 
HE comprises a method core 1000', UDEs 1200a & 1200b, an 
MDE 1202, load modules HOOa-HOOd, and a further component 


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assembly 690(k+l). As mentioned above, a PERC 808(k) defines, 
among other things, the "assembly instructions" for component 
assembly 690(k), and may contain or reference parts of some or all 
of the components that are to be assembled to create a component 
assembly. 

One of the load modules 1100b shown in this example is 
itself comprised of plural load modules 1100c, HOOd. Some of the 
load modules (e.g., 1100a, HOOd) in this example include one or 
more "DTD" data elements 1108 (e.g., 1108a, 1108b). DTD" data 
elements 1108 may be used, for example, to inform load module 
1100a of the data elements included in MDE 1202 and/or UDEs 
1200a, 1200b. Furthermore, DTDs 1108 may be used as an aspect 
of forming a portion of an application used to inform a user as to 
the information required and/or manipulated by one or more load 
modules 1100, or other component elements. Such an application 
program may also include functions for creating and/or 
manipulating UDE(s) 1200, MDE(s) 1202, or other component 
elements, subassemblies, etc. 

Components within component assemblies 690 may be 
"reused" to form different component assemblies. As mentioned 
above, figure 1 IF is an abstract depiction of one example of the 
same components used for assembling component assembly 690(k) 
to be reused (e.g., with some additional components specified by a 
different set of "assembly instructions" provided in a different 


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PERC 808(1)) to form a different component assembly 690(1). Even 
though component assembly 690(1) is formed from some of the 
same components used to form component assembly 690(k), these 
two component assemblies may perform completely different 
processes in complete different ways. 

As mentioned above, ROS 602 provides several layers of 
security to ensure the security of component assemblies 690. One 
important security layer involves ensuring that certain component 
assemblies 690 are formed, loaded and executed only in secure 
execution space such as provided within an SPU 500. Components 
690 and/or elements comprising them may be stored on external 
media encrypted using local SPU 500 generated and/or distributor 
provided keys. 

ROS 602 also provides a tagging and sequencing scheme 
that may be used within the loadable component assemblies 690 to 
detect tampering by substitution. Each element comprising a 
component assembly 690 may be loaded into an SPU 500, 
decrypted using encrypt/decrypt engine 522, and then 
tested/compared to ensure that the proper element has been 
loaded. Several independent comparisons may be used to ensure 
there has been no unauthorized substitution. For example, the 
public and private copies of the element ID may be compared to 
ensure that they are the same, thereby preventing gross 
substitution of elements. In addition, a validation/correlation tag 
stored under the encrypted layer of the loadable element may be 


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compared to make sure it matches one or more tags provided by a 
requesting process. This prevents unauthorized use of 
information. As a third protection, a device assigned tag (e.g., a 
sequence number) stored under an encryption layer of a loadable 
element may be checked to make sure it matches a corresponding 
tag value expected by SPU 500. This prevents substitution of 
older elements. Validation/correlation tags are typically passed 
only in secure wrappers to prevent plaintext exposure of this 
information outside of SPU 500. 

The secure component based architecture of ROS 602 has 
important advantages. For example, it accommodates limited 
resource execution environments such as provided by a lower cost 
SPU 500. It also provides an extremely high level of 
configurability. In fact, ROS 602 will accommodate an almost 
unlimited diversity of content types, content provider objectives, 
transaction types and client requirements. In addition, the ability 
to dynamically assemble independently deliverable components at 
execution time based on particular objects and users provides a 
high degree of flexibility, and facilitates or enables a distributed 
database, processing, and execution environment. 

One aspect of an advantage of the component-based 
architecture provided by ROS 602 relates to the ability to "stage" 
functionality and capabilities over time. As designed, 
implementation of ROS 602 is a finite task. Aspects of its wealth 


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of functionality can remain unexploited until market realities 
dictate the implementation of corresponding VDE application 
functionality. As a result, initial product implementation 
investment and complexity may be limited. The process of 
5 "surfacing" the full range of capabilities provided by ROS 602 in 

terms of authoring, administrative, and artificial intelligence 
applications may take place over time. Moreover, already- 
designed functionality of ROS 602 may be changed or enhanced at 
any time to adapt to changing needs or requirements. 

10 

More Detailed Discussion of Rights Operating System 602 
Architecture 

Figure 12 shows an example of a detailed architecture of 
15 ROS 602 shown in Figure 10. ROS 602 may include a file system 

687 that includes a commercial database manager 730 and 
external object repositories 728. Commercial database manager 
730 may maintain secure database 610. Object repository 728 may 
store, provide access to, and/or maintain VDE objects 300. 

20 

Figure 12 also shows that ROS 602 may provide one or more 
SPEs 503 and/or one or more HPEs 655. As discussed above, HPE 
655 may "emulate" an SPU 500 device, and such HPEs 655 may be 
integrated in lieu of (or in addition to) physical SPUs 500 for 
25 systems that need higher throughput. Some security may be lost 

since HPEs 655 are typically protected by operating system 
security and may not provide truly secure processing. Thus, in the 


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preferred embodiment, for high security applications at least, all 
secure processing should take place within an SPE 503 having an 
execution space within a physical SPU 500 rather than a HPE 
655 using software operating elsewhere in electronic appliance 
600. 

As mentioned above, three basic components of ROS 602 are 
a kernel 680, a Remote Procedure Call (RPC) manager 732 and an 
object switch 734. These components, and the way they interact 
with other portions of ROS 602, will be discussed below. 

Kernel 680 

Kernel 680 manages the basic hardware resources of 
electronic appliance 600, and controls the basic tasking provided 
by ROS 602. Kernel 680 in the preferred embodiment may include 
a memory manager 680a, a task manager 680b, and an I/O 
manager 680c. Task manager 680b may initiate and/or manage 
initiation of executable tasks and schedule them to be executed by 
a processor on which ROS 602 runs (e.g., CPU 654 shown in 
Figure 8). For example, Task manager 680b may include or be 
associated with a "bootstrap loader" that loads other parts of ROS 
602. Task manager 680b may manage all tasking related to ROS 
602, including tasks associated with application program(s) 608. 
Memory manager 680a may manage allocation, deallocation, 
sharing and/or use of memory (e.g., RAM 656 shown in Figure 8) 
of electronic appliance 600, and may for example provide virtual 


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memory capabilities as required by an electronic appliance and/or 
associated application(s). I/O manager 680c may manage all input 
to and output from ROS 602, and may interact with drivers and 
other hardware managers that provide communications and 
5 interactivity with physical devices. 

RPC Manager 732 

ROS 602 in a preferred embodiment is designed around a 
"services based" Remote Procedure Call architecture/interface. All 

10 functions performed by ROS 602 may use this common interface to 

request services and share information. For example, SPE(s) 503 
provide processing for one or more RPC based services. In 
addition to supporting SPUs 500, the RPC interface permits the 
dynamic integration of external services and provides an array of 

15 configuration options using existing operating system components. 

ROS 602 also communicates with external services through the 
RPC interface to seamlessly provide distributed and/or remote 
processing. In smaller scale instances of ROS 602, a simpler 
message passing IPC protocol may be used to conserve resources. 

20 This may limit the configurability of ROS 602 services, but this 

possible limitation may be acceptable in some electronic 
appliances. 

The RPC structure allows services to be called/requested 
25 without the calling process having to know or specify where the 

service is physically provided, what system or device will service 


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the request, or how the service request will be fulfilled. This 
feature supports families of services that may be scaled and/or 
customized for specific applications. Service requests can be 
forwarded and serviced by different processors and/or different 
sites as easily as they can be forwarded and serviced by a local 
service system. Since the same RPC interface is used by ROS 602 
in the preferred embodiment to request services within and 
outside of the operating system, a request for distributed and/or 
remote processing incurs substantially no additional operating 
system overhead. Remote processing is easily and simply 
integrated as part of the same service calls used by ROS 602 for 
requesting local-based services. In addition, the use of a standard 
RPC interface ("RSI") allows ROS 602 to be modularized, with the 
different modules presenting a standardized interface to the 
remainder of the operating system. Such modularization and 
standardized interfacing permits different vendors/operating 
system programmers to create different portions of the operating 
system independently, and also allows the functionality of ROS 
602 to be flexibly updated and/or changed based on different 
requirements and/or platforms. 

RPC manager 732 manages the RPC interface. It receives 
service requests in the form of one or more "Remote Procedure 
Calls" (RPCs) from a service requestor, and routes the service 
requests to a service provider(s) that can service the request. For 
example, when rights operating system 602 receives a request 


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from a user application via user API 682, RPC manager 732 may 
route the service request to an appropriate service through the 
"RPC service interface" ("RSI"). The RSI is an interface between 
RPC manager 732, service requestors, and a resource that will 
5 accept and service requests. 

The RPC interface (RSI) is used for several major ROS 602 
subsystems in the preferred embodiment. 

10 RPC services provided by ROS 602 in the preferred 

embodiment are divided into subservices, i.e., individual instances 
of a specific service each of which may be tracked individually by 
the RPC manager 732. This mechanism permits multiple 
instances of a specific service on higher throughput systems while 

15 maintaining a common interface across a spectrum of 

implementations. The subservice concept extends to supporting 
multiple processors, multiple SPEs 503, multiple HPEs 655, and 
multiple communications services. 

20 The preferred embodiment ROS 602 provides the following 

RPC based service providers/requestors (each of which have an 
RPC interface or "RSI" that communicates with RPC manager 
732): 

SPE device driver 736 (this SPE device driver is connected 
25 to an SPE 503 in the preferred embodiment); 


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HPE Device Driver 738 (this HPE device driver is connected 

to an HPE 738 in the preferred embodiment); 
Notification Service 740 (this notification service is 

connected to user notification interface 686 in the 

preferred embodiment); 
API Service 742 (this API service is connected to user API 

682 in the preferred embodiment; 
Redirector 684; 

Secure Database (File) Manager 744 (this secure database or 
file manager 744 may connect to and interact with 
commercial database manager 730 and secure files 
610 through a cache manager 746, a database 
interface 748, and a database driver 750); 

Name Services Manager 752; 

Outgoing Administrative Objects Manager 754; 

Incoming Administrative Objects Manager 756; 

a Gateway 734 to object switch 734 (this is a path used to 
allow direct communication between RPC manager 
732 and Object Switch 734); and 

Communications Manager 776. 

The types of services provided by HPE 655, SPE 503, User 
Notification 686, API 742 and Redirector 684 have already been 
described above. Here is a brief description of the type(s) of 
services provided by OS resources 744, 752, 754, 756 and 776: 


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Secure DataHasP Manager 744 services requests for access to 

secure database 610; 
Name Serves Manager 752 services requests relating to 

user, host, or service identification; 
Outgoing Administrative Objects M anager 754 services 

requests relating to outgoing administrative objects; 
t — ™ir,fr Admini strative Objects Manager 756 services 

requests relating to incoming aclministrative objects; 

and 

Communications Manager 776 services requests relating to 
communications between electronic appliance 600 and 
the outside world. 

Object Switch 734 

Object switch 734 handles, controls and communicates (both 
locally and remotely) VDE objects 300. In the preferred 
embodiment, the object switch may include the following elements: 

a stream router 758; 

a real time stream interface(s) 760 (which may be connected 

to real time data feed(s) 694); 
a time dependent stream interface(s) 762; 
a intercept 692; 
a container manager 764; 
one or more routing tables 766; and 
buffering/storage 768. 


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Stream router 758 routes to/from "real time" and "time 
independent" data streams handled respectively by real time 
stream interface(s) 760 and time dependent stream interface(s) 
762. Intercept 692 intercepts I/O requests that involve real-time 
information streams such as, for example, real time feed 694. The 
routing performed by stream router 758 may be determined by 
routing tables 766. Buffering/storage 768 provides temporary 
store-and-forward, buffering and related services. Container 
manager 764 may (typically in conjunction with SPE 503) perform 
processes on VDE objects 300 such as constructing, deconstructing, 
and locating portions of objects. 

Object switch 734 communicates through an Object Switch 
Interface ("OSP) with other parts of ROS 602. The Object Switch 
Interface may resemble, for example, the interface for a Unix 
socket in the preferred embodiment. Each of the "OSP interfaces 
shown in Figure 12 have the ability to communicate with object 
switch 734. 

ROS 602 includes the following object switch service 
providers/resources (each of which can communicate with the 
object switch 734 through an "OSI"): 

Outgoing Aclministrative Objects Manager 754; 

Incoming Aclministrative Objects Manager 756; 

Gateway 734 (which may translate RPC calls into object 

switch calls and vice versa so RPC manager 732 may 


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electronic mail services. External Services Manager 772 may 
interface to communications manager 776 through a Service 
Transport Layer 786. Service Transport Layer 786a may enable 
External Services Manager 772 to communicate with external 
5 computers and systems using various protocols managed using the 

service transport layer 786. 


The characteristics of and interfaces to the various 
subsystems of ROS 680 shown in Figure 12 are described in more 
10 detail below. 

RPC Manager 732 and Its RPC Services Interface 

As discussed above, the basic system services provided by 
ROS 602 are invoked by using an RPC service interface (RSI). 
15 This RPC service interface provides a generic, standardized 

interface for different services systems and subsystems provided 
by ROS 602. 


RPC Manager 732 routes RPCs requesting services to an 
20 appropriate RPC service interface. In the preferred embodiment, 

upon receiving an RPC call, RPC manager 732 determines one or 
more service managers that are to service the request. RPC 
manager 732 then routes a service request to the appropriate 
service(s) (via a RSI associated with a service) for action by the 
25 appropriate service managers). 


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communicate with object switch 734 or any other 
element having an OSI to, for example, provide and/or 
request services); 
External Services Manager 772; 
5 Object Submittal Manager 774; and 

Communications Manager 776. 

Briefly, 

Object Repository Manager 770 provides services relating to 

access to object repository 728; 
External Services Manager 772 provides services relating to 
requesting and receiving services externally, such as 
from a network resource or another site; 
Obiect Submittal Manager 774 provides services relating to 
how a user application may interact with object switch 
734 (since the object submittal manager provides an 
interface to an application program 608, it could be 
considered part of user API 682); and 
Communi cations Manager 776 provides services relating to 
communicating with the outside world. 

In the preferred embodiment, communications manager 776 
may include a network manager 780 and a mail gateway 
(manager) 782. Mail gateway 782 may include one or more mail 
25 filters 784 to, for example, automatically route VDE related 

electronic mail between object switch 734 and the outside world 


10 


15 


20 


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For example, if a SPE 503 is to service a request, the RPC 
Manager 732 routes the request to RSI 736a, which passes the 
request on to SPE device driver 736 for forwarding to the SPE. 
Similarly, if HPE 655 is to service the request, RPC Manager 732 
5 routes the request to RSI 738a for forwarding to a HPE. In one 

preferred embodiment, SPE 503 and HPE 655 may perform 
essentially the same services so that RSIs 736a, 738a are different 
instances of the same RSI. Once a service request has been 
received by SPE 503 (or HPE 655), the SPE (or HPE) typically 

10 dispatches the request internally using its own internal RPC 

manager (as will be discussed shortly). Processes within SPEs 503 
and HPEs 655 can also generate RPC requests. These requests 
may be processed internally by a SPE/HPE, or if not internally 
serviceable, passed out of the SPE/HPE for dispatch by RPC 

15 Manager 732. 

Remote (and local) procedure calls may be dispatched by a 
RPC Manager 732 using an "RPC Services Table." An RPC 
Services Table describes where requests for specific services are to 

20 be routed for processing. Each row of an RPC Services Table in 

the preferred embodiment contains a services ID, the location of 
the service, and an address to which control will be passed to 
service a request. An RPC Services Table may also include control 
information that indicates which instance of the RPC dispatcher 

25 controls the service. Both RPC Manager 732 and any attached 

SPEs 503 and HPEs 655 may have symmetric copies of the RPC 


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Services Table. If an RPC service is not found in the RPC services 
tables, it is either rejected or passed to external services manager 
772 for remote servicing. 

Assuming RPC manager 732 finds a row corresponding to 
the request in an RPC Services Table, it may dispatch the request 
to an appropriate RSI. The receiving RSI accepts a request from 
the RPC manager 732 (which may have looked up the request in 
an RPC service table), and processes that request in accordance 
with internal priorities associated with the specific service. 

In the preferred embodiment, RPC Service Interface(s) 
supported by RPC Manager 732 may be standardized and 
published to support add-on service modules developed by third 
party vendors, and to facilitate scalability by making it easier to 
program ROS 602. The preferred embodiment RSI closely follows 
the DOS and Unix device driver models for block devices so that 
common code may be developed for many platforms with minimum 
effort. An example of one possible set of common entry points are 
listed below in the table. 


Interface call 


SVC.LOAD 


Description 


Load a service manager and return its status. 


SVC.UNLOAD 


Unload a service manager. 


SVC.MOUNT 


Mount (load) a dynamically loaded subservice and 
return its status. — 


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5 


SVCJJNMOUNT 

Unmount (unload) a dynamically loaded 
subservice. 

SVC.OPEN 

Open a mounted subservice. 

SVC_CLOSE 

Close a mounted subservice. 

SVCJtEAD 

Read a block from an opened subservice. 

SVC WRITE 

Write a block to an opened subservice. 

SVCJOCTL 

Control a subservice or a service manager. 


Load 

In the preferred embodiment, services (and the associated 
10 RSIs they present to RPC manager 732) may be activated during 

boot by an installation boot process that issues an RPC LOAD. 
This process reads an RPC Services Table from a configuration 
file, loads the service module if it is run time loadable (as opposed 
to being a kernel linked device driver), and then calls the LOAD 
15 entry point for the service. A successful return from the LOAD 

entry point will indicate that the service has properly loaded and 
is ready to accept requests. 

RPC LOAD Call Example: SVC.LOAD (long service Jd) 
20 This LOAD interface call is called by the RPC manager 732 

during rights operating system 602 initialization. It permits a 
service manager to load any dynamically loadable components and 
to initialize any device and memory required by the service. The 
service number that the service is loaded as is passed in as 


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service Jd parameter. In the preferred embodiment, the service 
returns 0 is the initialization process was completed successfully 
or an error number if some error occurred. 


Mount 

Once a service has been loaded, it may not be fully 
functional for all subservices. Some subservices (e.g., 
communications based services) may require the establishment of 
additional connections, or they may require additional modules to 
be loaded. If the service is defined as "mountable," a RPC manager 
732 will call the MOUNT subservice entry point with the 
requested subservice ID prior to opening an instance of a 
subservice. 

RPC MOUNT Call Example: 

SVC_MOUNT (long servicejd, long subservice_id, BYTE 

♦buffer) 

This MOUNT interface call instructs a service to make a 
specific subservice ready. This may include services related to 
networking, communications, other system services, or external 
resources. The service Jd and subservice Jd parameters may be 
specific to the specific service being requested. The buffer 
parameter is a memory address that references a control structure 
appropriate to a specific service. 


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Open 

Once a service is loaded and "mounted," specific instances of 
a service may be "opened" for use. "Opening" an instance of a 
service may allocate memory to store control and status 
5 information. For example, in a BSD socket based network 

connection, a LOAD call will initialize the software and protocol 
control tables, a MOUNT call will specify networks and hardware 
resources, and an OPEN will actually open a socket to a remote 
installation. 

10 

Some services, such as commercial database manager 730 
that underlies the secure database service, may not be 
"mountable." In this case, a LOAD call will make a connection to 
a database manager 730 and ensure that records are readable. An 
15 OPEN call may create instances of internal cache manager 746 for 

various classes of records. 

RPC OPEN Call Example: 

SVC_OPEN (long service.id, long subservice_id, BYTE 
20 *buffer, int (*receive) (long requested)) 

This OPEN interface call instructs a service to open a 
specific subservice. The servicejd and subservicejd parameters 
are specific to the specific service being requested, and the buffer 
parameter is a memory address that references a control structure 
25 appropriate to a specific service. 


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The optional receive parameter is the address of a 
notification callback function that is called by a service whenever a 
message is ready for the service to retrieve it. One call to this 
address is made for each incoming message received. If the caller 
passes a NULL to the interface, the software will not generate a 
callback for each message. 


Close, Unmount and Unload 

The converse of the OPEN, MOUNT, and LOAD calls are 
CLOSE, UNMOUNT, and UNLOAD. These interface calls release 
any allocated resources back to ROS 602 (e.g., memory manager 
680a). 

RPC CLOSE Call Example: SVC_CLOSE (long svc_handle) 

This LOAD interface call closes an open service "handle." A 
service "handle" describes a service and subservice that a user 
wants to close. The call returns 0 if the CLOSE request succeeds 
(and the handle is no longer valid) or an error number. 

RPC UNLOAD Call Example: SVCJJNLOAD (void) 

This UNLOAD interface call is called by a RPC manager 
732 during shutdown or resource reallocation of rights operating 
system 602. It permits a service to close any open connections, 
flush buffers, and to release any operating system resources that it 
may have allocated. The service returns 0. 


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RPC UNMOUNT Call Example: SVCJJNMOUNT (long service_id, 
long subservice_id) 

This UNMOUNT interface call instructs a service to 
deactivate a specific subservice. The servicejd and subservicejd 
5 parameters are specific to the specific service being requested, and 

must have been previously mounted using the SVC_MOUNT() 
request. The call releases all system resources associated with the 
subservice before it returns. 

10 Read and Write 

The READ and WRITE calls provide a basic mechanism for 
sending information to and receiving responses from a mounted 
and opened service. For example, a service has requests written to 
it in the form of an RPC request, and makes its response available 
15 to be read by RPC Manager 732 as they become available. 

RPC READ Call Example: 

SVC_READ (long svcjiandle, long requested, BYTE 
♦buffer, long size) 

20 This READ call reads a message response from a service. 

The svcjiandle and requestjd parameters uniquely identify a 
request. The results of a request will be stored in the user 
specified buffer up to size bytes. If the buffer is too small, the 
first size bytes of the message will be stored in the buffer and an 

25 error will be returned. 


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If a message response was returned to the caller's buffer 
correctly, the function will return 0. Otherwise, an error message 
will be returned. 


5 RPC WRITE Call Example: 

SVC_write (long service_id, long subservice_id, BYTE 
♦buffer, long size, int (*receive) (long requested) 

This WRITE call writes a message to a service and 
subservice specified by the servicejd/subservicejd parameter 

10 pair. The message is stored in buffer (and usually conforms to the 

VDE RPC message format) and is size bytes long. The function 
returns the request id for the message (if it was accepted for 
sending) or an error number. If a user specifies the receive 
callback functions, all messages regarding a request will be sent to 

15 the request specific callback routine instead of the generalized 

message callback. 

Input/Output Control 

The IOCTL ("Input/Output ConTroL") call provides a 
20 mechanism for querying the status of and controlling a loaded 

service. Each service type will respond to specific general IOCTL 
requests, all required class IOCTL requests, and service specific 
IOCTL requests. 


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RPC IOCTL Call Example: ROI_SVC_IOCTL (long service.id, long 
subservice_id, 

int command, BYTE "buffer) 

5 This IOCTL function provides a generalized control interface 

for a RSI. A user specifies the servicejd parameter and an 
optional subservicejd parameter that they wish to control. They 
specify the control command parameters), and a buffer into/from 
which the command parameters may be written/read. An 
10 example of a list of commands and the appropriate buffer 

structures are given below. 


Command 

Structure 

Description 

GETJNFO 

SVCJNFO 

Returns information about a 

service/subservice. 

GET_STATS 

SVC_STATS 

Returns current statistics about a 
service/subservice. 

CLRJSTATS 

None 

Clears the statistics about a 
service/subservice. 


* * * * * 

Now that a generic RPC Service Interface provided by the 
preferred embodiment has been described, the following 
description relates to particular examples of services provided by 
ROS 602. 


20 


25 


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SPE Device Driver 736 

SPE device driver 736 provides an interface between ROS 
602 and SPE 503. Since SPE 503 in the preferred embodiment 
runs within the confines of an SPU 500, one aspect of this device 
5 driver 736 is to provide low level communications services with the 

SPU 500 hardware. Another aspect of SPE device driver 736 is to 
provide an RPC service interface (RSI) 736a particular to SPE 503 
(this same RSI may be used to communicate with HPE 655 
through HPE device driver 738). 

10 

SPE RSI 736a and driver 736 isolates calling processes 
within ROS 602 (or external to the ROS) from the detailed service 
provided by the SPE 503 by providing a set of basic interface 
points providing a concise function set. This has several 

15 advantages. For example, it permits a full line of scaled SPUs 

500 that all provide common functionality to the outside world but 
which may differ in detailed internal structure and architecture. 
SPU 500 characteristics such as the amount of memory resident in 
the device, processor speed, and the number of services supported 

20 within SPU 500 may be the decision of the specific SPU 

manufacturer, and in any event may differ from one SPU 
configuration to another. To maintain compatibility, SPE device 
driver 736 and the RSI 736a it provides conform to a basic 
common RPC interface standard that "hides" differences between 

25 detailed configurations of SPUs 500 and/or the SPEs 503 they may 

support. 


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10 


15 


20 


To provide for such compatibility, SPE RSI 736a in the 
preferred embodiment follows a simple block based standard. In 
the preferred embodiment, an SPE RSI 736a may be modeled after 
the packet interfaces for network Ethernet cards. This standard 
closely models the block mode interface characteristics of SPUs 
500 in the preferred embodiment. 

An SPE RSI 736a allows RPC calls from RPC manager 732 
to access specific services provided by an SPE 736. To do this, 
SPE RSI 736a provides a set of "service notification address 
interfaces." These provide interfaces to individual services 
provided by SPE 503 to the outside world. Any calling process 
within ROS 602 may access these SPE-provided services by 
directing an RPC call to SPE RSI 736a and specifying a 
corresponding "service notification address" in an RPC call. The 
specified "service notification address" causes SPE 503 to 
internally route an RPC call to a particular service within an SPE. 
The following is a listing of one example of a SPE service 
breakdown for which individual service notification addresses may 
be provided: 

Channel Services Manager 

Authentication Manager/Secure Communications Manager 
Secure Database Manager 


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The Channel Services Manager is the principal service 
provider and access point = o SPE 503 for the rest of ROS 602. 
Event processing, as will be discussed later, is primarily managed 
(from the point of view of processes outside SPE 503) by this 
5 service. The Authentication Manager/Secure Communications 

Manager may provide login/logout services for users of ROS 602, 
and provide a direct service for managing communications 
(typically encrypted or otherwise protected) related to component 
assemblies 690, VDE objects 300, etc. Requests for display of 

10 information (e.g., value remaining in a financial budget) may be 

provided by a direct service request to a Secure Database Manager 
inside SPE 503. The instances of Authentication Manager/Secure 
Communications Manager and Secure Database Manager, if 
available at all, may provide only a subset of the information 

15 and/or capabilities available to processes operating inside SPE 

503. As stated above, most (potentially all) service requests 
entering SPE are routed to a Channel Services Manager for 
processing. As will be discussed in more detail later on, most 
control structures and event processing logic is associated with 

20 component assemblies 690 under the management of a Channel 

Services Manager. 

The SPE 503 must be accessed through its associated SPE 
driver 736 in this example. Generally, calls to SPE driver 736 are 
25 made in response to RPC calls. In this example, SPE driver RSI 

736a may translate RPC calls directed to control or ascertain 


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information about SPE driver 736 into driver calls. SPE driver 
RSI 736a in conjunction with driver 736 may pass RPC calls 
directed to SPE 503 through to the SPE. 

5 The following table shows one example of SPE device driver 

736 calls: 


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! 


Entry Point 

Description 

SPEJnfoO 

Returns summary information about 
the SPE driver 736 (and SPE 503) 

SPE_initialize_interface() 

Initializes SPE driver 736, and sets the 
default notification address for received 
packets. 

SPE_tenninate_interface() 

Terminates SPE driver 736 and resets 
SPU 500 and the driver 736. 

SPE_reset_interface() 

Resets driver 736 without resetting 
SPU 500. 

SPE_get_stats() 

Return statistics for notification 
addresses and/or an entire driver 736. 

SPE_clear_stats() 

Clears statistics for a specific 
notification address and/or an entire 
driver 736. 

SPE_set_notify() 

Sets a notification address for a specific 
service ID. 

SPE_get_notify() 

Returns a notification address for a 
specific service ID. 

SPE_tx_pkt() 

Sends a packet (e.g., containing an RPC 
call) to SPE 503 for processing. 


The following are more detailed examples of each of the SPE 
driver calls set forth in the table above. 

15 

Example of an 'SPE Information*Driver Call: SPE.info (void) 

This function returns a pointer to an SPEJNFO data 
structure that defines the SPE device driver 736a. This data 


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structure may provide certain information about SPE device driver 
736, RSI 736a and/or SPU 500. An example of a SPE JNFO 
structure is described below: 


Version Number/ID for SPE 
Device Driver 736 


Version Number/ID for SPE 
Device Driver RSI 736 


Pointer to name of SPE Device 
Driver 736 

Pointer to ID name of SPU 500 

Functionality Code Describing 
SPE Capabilities/functionality 


Example of an SPE "Initialize InterfaceDriver Call: 

SPE_initialize_interface (int (fen *receiver)(void)) 

A receiver function passed in by way of a parameter will be 
called for all packets received from SPE 503 unless their 
destination service is over-ridden using the set_notify() call. A 
receiver function allows ROS 602 to specify a format for packet 
communication between RPC manager 732 and SPE 503. 

This function returns w 0" in the preferred embodiment if the 
initialization of the interface succeeds and non-zero if it fails. If 


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the function fails, it will return a code that describes the reason 
for the failure as the value of the function. 

Example of an SPE 'Terminate InterfaceTDriver Call: 

5 SPE J;erminate_interface (void) 

In the preferred embodiment, this function shuts down SPE 
Driver 736, clears all notification addresses, and terminates all 
outstanding requests between an SPE and an ROS RPC manager 
732. It also resets an SPE 503 (e.g., by a warm reboot of SPU 
10 500) after all requests are resolved. 

Termination of driver 736 should be performed by ROS 602 
when the operating system is starting to shut down. It may also 
be necessary to issue this call if an SPE 503 and ROS 602 get so 
15 far out of synchronization that all processing in an SPE must be 

reset to a known state. 


Example of an SPE "Reset InterfaceDriver Call: 

SPE_reset_interface (void) 
20 This function resets driver 736, terminates all outstanding 

requests between SPE 503 and an ROS RPC manager 732, and 
clears all statistics counts. It does not reset the SPU 500, but 
simply restores driver 736 to a known stable state. 

25 Example of an SPE 'Get StatisticsUriver Call: SPE_get_stats 

(long service_id) 


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This function returns statistics for a specific service 
notification interface or for the SPE driver 736 in general. It 
returns a pointer to a static buffer that contains these statistics or 
NULL if statistics are unavailable (either because an interface is 
not initialized or because a receiver address was not specified). An 
example of the SPE_STATS structure may have the following 
definition: 


10 


15 


20 


Service id 


# packets rx 


# packets tx 


# bytes rx 


# bytes tx 


# errors rx 


# errors tx 


# requests tx 


# req tx completed 


# req tx cancelled 


# req rx 


# req rx completed 


# req rx cancelled 


25 


If a user specifies a service DD, statistics associated with 
packets sent by that service are returned. If a user specified 0 as 


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the parameter, the total packet statistics for the interface are 
returned. 

Example of an SPE "Clear Statistics* Driver Call: SPE_clear_stats 
(long service_id) 

This function clears statistics associated with the SPE 
service_id specified. If no service_id is specified (i.e., the caller 
passes in 0), global statistics will be cleared. The function returns 
0 if statistics are successfully cleared or an error number if an 
error occurs. 

Example of an SPE "Set Notification Address" Driver Call: 

SPE_set_notify (long service_id, int (fcn*receiver) (void)) 

This function sets a notification address (receiver) for a 
specified service. If the notification address is set to NULL, SPE 
device driver 736 will send notifications for packets to the specified 
service to the default notification address. 

Example of a SPE "Get Notification Address" Driver Call: 
SPE_get_notify (long service_id) 

This function returns a notification address associated with 
the named service or NULL if no specific notification address has 
been specified. 


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Example of an SPE 'Send Packet" Driver Call: 

send_pkt (BYTE *buffer, long size, int (far "receive) (void)) 
This function sends a packet stored in buffer of "length" size. 

It returns 0 if the packet is sent successfully, or returns an error 

code associated with the failure. 

Redirector Service Manager 684 

The redirector 684 is a piece of systems integration software 
used principally when ROS 602 is provided by "adding on w to a 
pre-existing operating system or when "transparent" operation is 
desired for some VDE functions, as described earlier. In one 
embodiment the kernel 680, part of communications manager 776, 
file system 687, and part of API service 742 may be part of a pre- 
existing operating system such as DOS, Windows, UNIX, 
Macintosh System, OS9, PSOS, OS/2, or other operating system 
platform. The remainder of ROS 602 subsystems shown in Figure 
12 may be provided as an "add on" to a preexisting operating 
system. Once these ROS subsystems have been supplied and 
"added on," the integrated whole comprises the ROS 602 shown in 
Figure 12. 

In a scenario of this type of integration, ROS 602 will 
continue to be supported by a preexisting OS kernel 680, but may 
supplement (or even substitute) many of its functions by providing 
additional add-on pieces such as, for example, a virtual memory 
manager. 


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Also in this integration scenario, an add-on portion of API 
service 742 that integrates readily with a preexisting API service 
is provided to support VDE function calls. A pre-existing API 
service integrated with an add-on portion supports an enhanced 
set of operating system calls including both calls to VDE functions 
604 and calls to functions 606 other than VDE functions (see 
Figure 11A). The add-on portion of API service 742 may translate 
VDE function calls into RPC calls for routing by RPC manager 
732. 

ROS 602 may use a standard communications manager 776 
provided by the preexisting operating system, or it may provide 
"add ons" and/or substitutions to it that may be readily integrated 
into it. Redirector 684 may provide this integration function. 

This leaves a requirement for ROS 602 to integrate with a 
preexisting file system 687. Redirector 684 provides this 
integration function. 

In this integration scenario, file system 687 of the 
preexisting operating system is used for all accesses to secondary 
storage. However, VDE objects 300 may be stored on secondary 
storage in the form of external object repository 728, file system 
687, or remotely accessible through communications manager 776. 
When object switch 734 wants to access external object repository 
728, it makes a request to the object repository manager 770 that 


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then routes the request to object repository 728 or to redirector 
692 (which in turn accesses the object in file system 687). 

Generally, redirector 684 maps VDE object repository 728 
content into preexisting calls to file system 687. The redirector 
684 provides preexisting OS level information about a VDE object 
300, including mapping the object into a preexisting OS's name 
space. This permits seamless access to VDE protected content 
using "normal* file system 687 access techniques provided by a 
preexisting operating system. 

In the integration scenarios discussed above, each 
preexisting target OS file system 687 has different interface 
requirements by which the redirector mechanism 684 may be 
"hooked." In general, since all commercially viable operating 
systems today provide support for network based volumes, file 
systems, and other devices (e.g., printers, modems, etc.), the 
redirector 684 may use low level network and file access "hooks" to 
integrate with a preexisting operating system. "Add-ons" for 
supporting VDE functions 602 may use these existing hooks to 
integrate with a preexisting operating system. 

User Notification Service Manager 740 

User Notification Service Manager 740 and associated user 
notification exception interface ("pop up a ) 686 provides ROS 602 
with an enhanced ability to communicate with a user of electronic 


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appliance 600. Not all applications 608 may be designed to 
respond to messaging from ROS 602 passed through API 682, and 
it may in any event be important or desirable to give ROS 602 the 
ability to communicate with a user no matter what state an 
application is in. User notification services manager 740 and 
interface 686 provides ROS 602 with a mechanism to communicate 
directly with a user, instead of or in addition to passing a return 
call through API 682 and an application 608. This is similar, for 
example, to the ability of the Windows operating system to display 
a user message in a "dialog box" that displays "on top of a 
running application irrespective of the state of the application. 

The User Notification 686 block in the preferred 
embodiment may be implemented as application code. The 
implementation of interface 740a is preferably built over 
notification service manager 740, which may be implemented as 
part of API service manager 742. Notification services manager 
740 in the preferred embodiment provides notification support to 
dispatch specific notifications to an appropriate user process via 
the appropriate API return, or by another path. This mechanism 
permits notifications to be routed to any authorized process — not 
just back to a process that specified a notification mechanism. 

API Service Manager 742 

The preferred embodiment API Service Manager 742 is 
implemented as a service interface to the RPC service manager 


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732. All user API requests are built on top of this basic interface. 
The API Service Manager 742 preferably provides a service 
instance for each running user application 608. 

Most RPC calls to ROS functions supported by API Service 
Manager 742 in the preferred embodiment may map directly to 
service calls with some additional parameter checking. This 
mechanism permits developers to create their own extended API 
libraries with additional or changed functionality. 

In the scenario discussed above in which ROS 602 is formed 
by integrating "add ons" with a preexisting operating system, the 
API service 742 code may be shared (e.g., resident in a host 
environment like a Windows DLL), or it may be directly linked 
with an applications s code — depending on an application 
programmer's implementation decision, and/or the type of 
electronic appliance 600. The Notification Service Manager 740 
may be implemented within API 682. These components interface 
with Notification Service component 686 to provide a transition 
between system and user space. 

Secure Database Service Manager CSDSM') 744 

There are at least two ways that may be used for managing 
secure database 600: 

• a commercial database approach, and 

• a site record number approach. 


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Which way is chosen may be based on the number of records that 
a VDE site stores in the secure database 610. 

The commercial database approach uses a commercial 
database to store securely wrappered records in a commercial 
database. This way may be preferred when there are a large 
number of records that are stored in the secure database 610. 
This way provides high speed access, efficient updates, and easy 
integration to host systems at the cost of resource usage (most 
commercial database managers use many system resources). 

The site record number approach uses a "site record 
number" CSRN") to locate records in the system. This scheme is 
preferred when the number of records stored in the secure 
database 610 is small and is not expected to change extensively 
over time. This way provides efficient resources use with limited 
update capabilities. SRNs permit further grouping of similar data 
records to speed access and increase performance. 

Since VDE 100 is highly scalable, different electronic 
appliances 600 may suggest one way more than the other. For 
example, in limited environments like a set top, PDA, or other low 
end electronic appliance, the SRN scheme may be preferred 
because it limits the amount of resources (memory and processor) 
required. When VDE is deployed on more capable electronic 
appliances 600 such as desktop computers, servers and at 


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clearinghouse-?, the commercial database scheme may be more 
desirable because it provides high performance in environments 
where resources are not limited. 

One difference between the database records in the two 
approaches is whether the records are specified using a full VDE 
ID or SRN. To translate between the two schemes, a SRN 
reference may be replaced with a VDE ID database reference 
wherever it occurs. Similarly, VDE IDs that are used as indices or 
references to other items may be replaced by the appropriate SRN 
value. 

In the preferred embodiment, a commercially available 
database manager 730 is used to maintain secure database 610. 
ROS 602 interacts with commercial database manager 730 
through a database driver 750 and a database interface 748. The . 
database interface 748 between ROS 602 and external, third party 
database vendors' commercial database manager 730 may be an 
open standard to permit any database vendor to implement a VDE 
compliant database driver 750 for their products. 

ROS 602 may encrypt each secure database 610 record so 
that a VDE-provided security layer is "on top or the commercial 
database structure. In other words, SPE 736 may write secure 
records in sizes and formats that may be stored within a database 
record structure supported by commercial database manager 730. 


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Commercial database manager 730 may then be used to organize, 
store, and retrieve the records. In some embodiments, it may be 
desirable to use a proprietary and/or newly created database 
manager in place of commercial database manager 730. However, 
the use of commercial database manager 730 may provide certain 
advantages such as, for example, an ability to use already existing 
database management product(s). 

The Secure Database Services Manager CSDSM") 744 
makes calls to an underlying commercial database manager 730 to 
obtain, modify, and store records in secure database 610. In the 
preferred embodiment, w SDSM a 744 provides a layer "on top of 
the structure of commercial database manager 730. For example, 
all VDE-secure information is sent to commercial database 
manager 730 in encrypted form. SDSM 744 in conjunction with 
cache manager 746 and database interface 748 may provide record 
management, caching (using cache manager 746), and related 
services (on top of) commercial database systems 730 and/or record 
managers. Database Interface 748 and cache manager 746 in the 
preferred embodiment do not present their own RSI, but rather 
the RPC Manager 732 communicates to them through the Secure 
Database Manager RSI 744a. 

Name Services Manager 752 

The Name Services Manager 752 supports three subservices: 
user name services, host name services, and services name 


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10 


15 


20 


services. User name services provides mapping and lookup 
between user name and user ID numbers, and may also support 
other aspects of user-based resource and information security. 
Host name services provides mapping and lookup between the 
names (and other information, such as for example address, 
communications connection/routing information, etc.) of other 
processing resources (e.g., other host electronic appliances) and 
VDE node IDs. Services name service provides a mapping and 
lookup between services names and other pertinent information 
such as connection information (e.g., remotely available service 
routing and contact information) and service IDs. 

Name Services Manager 752 in the preferred embodiment is 
connected to External Services Manager 772 so that it may 
provide external service routing information directly to the 
external services manager. Name services manager 752 is also 
connected to secure database manager 744 to permit the name 
services manager 752 to access name services records stored 
within secure database 610. 

External Services Manager 772 & Services Transport Layer 786 

The External Services Manager 772 provides protocol 
support capabilities to interface to external service providers. 
External services manager 772 may, for example, obtain external 
service routing information from name services manager 752, and 
then initiate contact to a particular external service (e.g., another 


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VDE electronic appliance 600, a financial clearinghouse, etc.) 
through communications manager 776. External services manager 
772 uses a service transport layer 786 to supply communications 
protocols and other information necessary to provide 
5 communications. 

There are several important examples of the use of External 
Services Manager 772. Some VDE objects may have some or all of 
their content stored at an Object Repository 728 on an electronic 

10 appliance 600 other than the one operated by a user who has, or 

wishes to obtain, some usage rights to such VDE objects. In this 
case, External Services Manager 772 may manage a connection to 
the electronic appliance 600 where the VDE objects desired (or 
their content) is stored. In addition, file system 687 may be a 

15 network file system (e.g., Netware, LANtastic, NFS, etc.) that 

allows access to VDE objects using redirecter 684. Object switch 
734 also supports this capability. 

If External Services Manager 772 is used to access VDE 
20 objects, many different techniques are possible. For example, the 

VDE objects may be formatted for use with the World Wide Web 
protocols (HTML, HTTP, and URL) by including relevant headers, 
content tags, host ID to URL conversion (e.g., using Name Services 
Manager 752) and an HTTP-aware instance of Services Transport 
25 Layer 786. 


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In other examples, External Services Manager 772 may be 
used to locate, connect to, and utilize remote event processing 
services; smart agent execution services (both to provide these 
services and locate them); certification services for Public Keys; 
remote Name Services; and other remote functions either 
supported by ROS 602 RPCs (e.g., have RSIs), or using protocols 
supported by Services Transport Layer 786. 

Outgoing Administrative Object Manager 754 

Outgoing administrative object manager 754 receives 
administrative objects from object switch 734, object repository 
manager 770 or other source for transmission to another VDE 
electronic appliance. Outgoing administrative object manager 754 
takes care of sending the outgoing object to its proper destination. 
Outgoing administrative object manager 754 may obtain routing 
information from name services manager 752, and may use 
communications service 776 to send the object. Outgoing 
administrative object manager 754 typically maintains records (in 
concert with SPE 503) in secure database 610 (e.g., shipping table 
444) that reflect when objects have been successfully transmitted, 
when an object should be transmitted, and other information 
related to transmission of objects. 

Incoming Administrative Object Manager 756 

Incoming administrative object manager 756 receives 
administrative objects from other VDE electronic appliances 600 


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10 


15 


20 


via communications manager 776. It may route the object to 
object repository manager 770, object switch 734 or other 
destination. Incoming administrative object manager 756 typically 
maintains records (in concert with SPE 503) in secure database 
610 (e.g., receiving table 446) that record which objects have been 
received, objects expected for receipt, and other information 
related to received and/or expected objects. 

Object Repository Manager 770 

Object repository manager 770 is a form of database or file 
manager. It manages the storage of VDE objects 300 in object 
repository 728, in a database, or in the file system 687. Object 
repository manager 770 may also provide the ability to browse 
and/or search information related to objects (such as summaries of 
content, abstracts, reviewers' commentary, schedules, promotional 
materials, etc.), for example, by using INFORMATION methods 
associated with VDE objects 300. 

Object Submittal Manager 774 

Object submittal manager 774 in the preferred embodiment 
provides an interface between an application 608 and object switch 
734, and thus may be considered in some respects part of API 682. 
For example, it may allow a user application to create new VDE 
objects 300. It may also allow incoming/outgoing administrative 
object managers 756, 754 to create VDE objects 300 
(administrative objects). 


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Figure 12A shows how object submittal manager 774 may be 
used to communicate with a user of electronic appliance 600 to 
help to create a new VDE object 300. Figure 12A shows that 
object creation may occur in two stages in the preferred 
embodiment: an object definition stage 1220, and an object 
creation stage 1230. The role of object submittal manager 774 is 
indicated by the two different "user input" depictions (774(1), 
774(2)) shown in Figure 12A. 

In one of its roles or instances, object submittal manager 774 
provides a user interface 774a that allows the user to create an 
object configuration file 1240 specifying certain characteristics of a 
VDE object 300 to be created. This user interface 774a may, for 
example, allow the user to specify that she wants to create an 
object, allow the user to designate the content the object will 
contain, and allow the user to specify certain other aspects of the 
information to be contained within the object (e.g., rules and 
control information, identifying information, etc.). 

Part of the object definition task 1220 in the preferred 
embodiment may be to analyze the content or other information to 
be placed within an object. Object definition user interface 774a 
may issue calls to object switch 734 to analyze "content" or other 
information that is to be included within the object to be created 
in order to define or organize the content into "atomic elements" 
specified by the user. As explained elsewhere herein, such "atomic 


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elenent" organizations might, for example, break up the content 
into paragraphs, pages or other subdivisions specified by the user, 
and might be explicit (e.g., inserting a control character between 
each "atomic element") or implicit. Object switch 734 may receive 
5 static and dynamic content (e.g., by way of time independent 

stream interface 762 and real time stream interface 760), and is 
capable of accessing and retrieving stored content or other 
information stored within file system 687. 


10 The result of object definition 1240 may be an object 

configuration file 1240 specifying certain parameters relating to 
the object to be created. Such parameters may include, for 
example, map tables, key management specifications, and event 
method parameters. The object construction stage 1230 may take 

15 the object configuration file 1240 and the information or content to 

be included within the new object as input, construct an object 
based on these inputs, and store the object within object repository 
728. 


20 Object construction stage 1230 may use information in object 

configuration file 1240 to assemble or modify a container. This 
process typically involves communicating a series of events to SPE 
503 to create one or more PERCs 808, public headers, private 
headers, and to encrypt content, all for storage in the new object 

25 300 (or within secure database 610 within records associated with 

the new object). 


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The object configuration file 1240 may be passed to 
container manager 764 within object switch 734. Container 
manager 734 is responsible for constructing an object 300 based on 
the object configuration file 1240 and further user input. The user 
may interact with the object construction 1230 through another 
instance 774(2) of object submittal manager 774. In this further 
user interaction provided by object submittal manager 774, the 
user may specify permissions, rules and/or control information to 
be applied to or associated with the new object 300, To specify 
permissions, rules and control information, object submittal 
manager 774 and/or container manager 764 within object switch 
734 generally will, as mentioned above, need to issue calls to SPE 
503 (e.g., through gateway 734) to cause the SPE to obtain 
appropriate information from secure database 610, generate 
appropriate database items, and store the database items into the 
secure database 610 and/or provide them in encrypted, protected 
form to the object switch for incorporation into the object. Such 
information provided by SPE 503 may include, in addition to 
encrypted content or other information, one or more PERCs 808, 
one or more method cores 1000', one or more load modules 1100, 
one or more data structures such as UDEs 1200 and/or MDEs 
1202, along with various key blocks, tags, public and private 
headers, and error correction information. 

The container manager 764 may, in cooperation with SPE 
503, construct an object container 302 based at least in part on 


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parameters about new object content or other information as 
specified by object configuration file 1240. Container manager 764 
may then insert into the container 302 the content or other 
information (as encrypted by SPE 503) to be included in the new 
object. Container manager 764 may also insert appropriate 
permissions, rules and/or control information into the container 
302 (this permissions, rules and/or control information may be 
defined at least in part by user interaction through object 
submittal manager 774, and may be processed at least in part by 
SPE 503 to create secure data control structures). Container 
manager 764 may then write the new object to object repository 
687, and the user or the electronic appliance may "register* 1 the 
new object by including appropriate information within secure 
database 610. 

Communications Subsystem 776 

Communications subsystem 776, as discussed above, may be 
a conventional communications service that provides a network 
manager 780 and a mail gateway manager 782. Mail filters 784 
may be provided to automatically route objects 300 and other VDE 
information to/from the outside world. Communications subsystem 
776 may support a real time content feed 684 from a cable, 
satellite or other telecommunications link. 


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Secure Processing Environment 503 

As discussed above in connection with Figure 12, each 
electronic appliance 600 in the preferred embodiment includes one 
or more SPEs 503 and/or one or more HPEs 655. These secure 
processing environments each provide a protected execution space 
for performing tasks in a secure manner. They may fulfill service 
requests passed to them by ROS 602, and they may themselves 
generate service requests to be satisfied by other services within 
ROS 602 or by services provided by another VDE electronic 
appliance 600 or computer. 

In the preferred embodiment, an SPE 503 is supported by 
the hardware resources of an SPU 500. An HPE 655 may be 
supported by general purpose processor resources and rely on 
software techniques for security/protection. HPE 655 thus gives 
ROS 602 the capability of assembling and executing certain 
component assemblies 690 on a general purpose CPU such as a 
microcomputer, minicomputer, mainframe computer or 
supercomputer processor. In the preferred embodiment, the 
overall software architecture of an SPE 503 may be the same as 
the software architecture of an HPE 655. An HPE 655 can 
"emulate* SPE 503 and associated SPU 500, i.e., each may include 
services and resources needed to support an identical set of service 
requests from ROS 602 (although ROS 602 may be restricted from 
sending to an HPE certain highly secure tasks to be executed only 
within an SPU 500). 


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Some electronic appliance 600 configurations might include 
both an SPE 503 and an HPE 655. For example, the HPE 655 
could perform tasks that need lesser (or no) security protections, 
and the SPE 503 could perform all tasks that require a high 
5 degree of security. This ability to provide serial or concurrent 

processing using multiple SPE and/or HPE arrangements provides 
additional flexibility, and may overcome limitations imposed by 
limited resources that can practically or cost-effectively be 
provided within an SPU 500. The cooperation of an SPE 503 and 

10 an HPE 655 may, in a particular application, lead to a more 

efficient and cost effective but nevertheless secure overall 
processing environment for supporting and providing the secure 
processing required by VDE 100. As one example, an HPE 655 
could provide overall processing for allowing a user to manipulate 

15 released object 300 'contents; but use SPE 503 to access the secure 

object and release the information from the object. 

Figure 13 shows the software architecture of the preferred 
embodiment Secure Processing Environment (SPE) 503. This 

20 architecture may also apply to the preferred embodiment Host 

Processing Environment (HPE) 655. "Protected Processing 
Environment" CTPE") 650 may refer generally to SPE 503 and/or 
HPE 655. Hereinafter, unless context indicates otherwise, 
references to any of TPE 650," "HPE 655" and "SPE 503" may 

25 refer to each of them. 


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m 


10 


15 


20 


552 provides SPU task and memory management, supports 
internal SPU hardware interrupts, provides certain "low level 
services," manages TDTD" data structures, and manages the SPU 
bus interface unit 530. Kernel/dispatcher 552 also includes a load 
module execution manager 568 that can load programs into secure 
execution space for execution by SPU 500. 

In the preferred embodiment, kernel/dispatcher 552 may 
include the following software/functional components: 
load module execution manager 568 
task manager 576 
memory manager 578 
virtual memory manager 580 
"low level" services manager 582 
internal interrupt handlers 584 
BIU handler 586 (may not be present in HPE 655) 
Service interrupt queues 588 
DTD Interpreter 590. 

At least parts of the kernel/dispatcher 552 are preferably 
stored in SPU firmware loaded into SPU ROM 532. An example of 
a memory map of SPU ROM 532 is shown in Figure 14A. This 
memory map shows the various components of kernel/dispatcher 
552 (as well as the other SPE services shown in Figure 13) 
residing in SPU ROM 532a and/or EEPROM 532b. The Figure 


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As shown in Figure 13, SPE 503 (PPE 650) includes the 
following service managers/major functional blocks in the preferred 
embodiment: 
Kernel/Dispatcher 552 

• Channel Services Manager 562 
SPE RPC Manager 550 

• Time Base Manager 554 

• Encryption/Decryption Manager 556 

• Key and Tag Manager 558 

• Summary Services Manager 560 

• Authentication Manager/Service Communications 
Manager 564 

• Random Value Generator 565 

• Secure Database Manager 566 
Other Services 592. 

Each of the major functional blocks of PPE 650 is discussed 
in detail below. 

20 I. SPE Kernel/Dispatcher 552 

The Kernel/Dispatcher 552 provides an operating system 
"kernel" that runs on and manages the hardware resources of SPU 
500. This operating system Teenier 552 provides a self-contained 
operating system for SPU 500; it is also a part of overall ROS 602 
25 (which may include multiple OS kernels, including one for each 

SPE and HPE ROS is controlling/managing). Kernel/dispatcher 


10 


15 


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e 


14B example of an NVRAM 534b memory map shows the task 
manager 576 and other information loaded into NVRAM. 

One of the functions performed by kernel/dispatcher 552 is 
to receive RPC calls from ROS RPC manager 732. As explained 
above, the ROS Kernel RPC manager 732 can route RPC calls to 
the SPE 503 (via SPE Device Driver 736 and its associated RSI 
736a) for action by the SPE. The SPE kernel/dispatcher 552 
receives these calls and either handles them or passes them on to 
SPE RPC manager 550 for routing internally to SPE 503. SPE 
503 based processes can also generate RPC requests. Some of 
these requests can be processed internally by the SPE 503. If they 
are not internally serviceable, they may be passed out of the SPE 
503 through SPE kernel/dispatcher 552 to ROS RPC manager 732 
for routing to services external to SPE 503. 

A. Kernel/Dispatcher Task Management 

Kernel/dispatcher task manager 576 schedules and oversees 
tasks executing within SPE 503 (PPE 650). SPE 503 supports 
many types of tasks. A "channel" (a special type of task that 
controls execution of component assemblies 690 in the preferred 
embodiment) is treated by task manager 576 as one type of task. 
Tasks are submitted to the task manager 576 for execution. Task 
manager 576 in turn ensures that the SPE 503/SPU 500 resources 
necessary to execute the tasks are made available, and then 
arranges for the SPU microprocessor 520 to execute the task. 


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Any call to kernel/dispatcher 552 gives the kernel an 
opportunity to take control of SPE 503 and to change the task or 
tasks that are currently executing. Thus, in the preferred 
embodiment kernel/dispatcher task manager 576 may (in 
5 conjunction with virtual memory manager 580 and/or memory 

manager 578) "swap out" of the execution space any or all of the 
tasks that are currently active, and n swap in a additional or 
different tasks. 

10 SPE tasking managed by task manager 576 may be either 

"single tasking" (meaning that only one task may be active at a 
time) or "multi-tasking" (meaning that multiple tasks may be 
active at once). SPE 503 may support single tasking or multi- 
tasking in the preferred embodiment. For example, "high end" 

15 implementations of SPE 503 (e.g., in server devices) should 

preferably include multi-tasking with "preemptive scheduling" 
Desktop applications may be able to use a simpler SPE 503, 
although they may still require concurrent execution of several 
tasks. Set top applications may be able to use a relatively simple 

20 implementation of SPE 503, supporting execution of only one task 

at a time. For example, a typical set top implementation of SPU 
500 may perform simple metering, budgeting and billing using 
subsets of VDE methods combined into single "aggregate" load 
modules to permit the various methods to execute in a single 

25 tasking environment. However, an execution environment that 

supports only single tasking may limit use with more complex 


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15 


20 


control structures. Such single tasking versions of SPE 503 trade 
flexibility in the number and types of metering and budgeting 
operations for smaller run time RAM size requirements. Such 
implementations of SPE 503 may (depending upon memory 
limitations) also be limited to metering a single object 300 at a 
time. Of course, variations or combinations are possible to 
increase capabilities beyond a simple single tasking environment 
without incurring the additional cost required to support "full 
multitasking." 

In the preferred embodiment, each task in SPE 503 is 
represented by a "swap block," which may be considered a "task" 
in a traditional multitasking architecture. A "swap block" in the 
preferred embodiment is a bookkeeping mechanism used by task 
manager 576 to keep track of tasks and sub tasks. It corresponds 
to a chunk of code and associated references that "fits" within the 
secure execution environment provided by SPU 500. In the 
preferred embodiment, it contains a list of references to shared 
data elements (e.g., load modules 1100 and UDEs 1200), private 
data elements (e.g., method data and local stack), and swapped 
process "context" information (e.g., the register set for the process 
when it is not processing). Figure 14C shows an example of a 
snapshot of SPU RAM 532 storing several examples of "swap 
blocks" for a number of different tasks/methods such as a 
"channel" task, a "control" task, an "event" task, a "meter" task, a 
"budget" task, and a "billing" task. Depending on the size of SPU 


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RAM 532, "swap blocks" may be swapped out of RAM and stored 
temporarily on secondary storage 652 until their execution can be 
continued. Thus, SPE 503 operating in a multi-tasking mode may 
have one or more tasks "sleeping." In the simplest form, this 
involves an active task that is currently processing, and smother 
task (e.g., a control task under which the active task may be 
running) that is "sleeping" and is "swapped out" of active execution 
space. Kernel/dispatcher 522 may swap out tasks at any time. 

Task manager 576 may use Memory Manager 578 to help it 
perform this swapping operation. Tasks may be swapped out of 
the secure execution space by reading appropriate information 
from RAM and other storage internal to SPU 500, for example, 
and writing a "swap block" to secondaiy storage 652. Kernel 552 
may swap a task back into the secure execution space by reading 
the swap block from secondary storage 652 and writing the 
appropriate information back into SPU RAM 532. Because 
secondary storage 652 is not secure, SPE 503 must encrypt and 
cryptographically seal (e.g., using a one-way hash function 
initialized with a secret value known only inside the SPU 500) 
each swap block before it writes it to secondary storage. The SPE 
503 must decrypt and verify the cryptographic seal for each swap 
block read from secondary storage 652 before the swap block can 
be returned to the secure execution space for further execution. 


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• 


9 


Loading a "swap block" into SPU memory may require one 
or more "paging operations" to possibly first save, and then flush, 
any "dirty pages" (i.e., pages changed by SPE 503) associated with 
the previously loaded swap blocks, and to load all required pages 
for the new swap block context. 

Kernel/dispatcher 522 preferably manages the "swap blocks" 
using service interrupt queues 588. These service interrupt 
queues 588 allow kernel/dispatcher 552 to track tasks (swap 
blocks) and their status (running, "swapped out," or "asleep"). The 
kernel/dispatcher 552 in the preferred embodiment may maintain 
the following service interrupt queues 588 to help it manage the 
"swap blocks": 


Those tasks that are completely loaded in the execution space and 
are waiting for and/or using execution cycles from microprocessor 
502 are in the RUN queue. Those tasks that are "swapped" out 
(e.g., because they are waiting for other swappable components to 
be loaded) are referenced in the SWAP queue. Those tasks that 
are "asleep" (e.g., because they are "blocked" on some resource 
other than processor cycles or are not needed at the moment) are 
referenced in the SLEEP queue. Kernel/dispatcher task manager 
576 may, for example, transition tasks between the RUN and 
SWAP queues based upon a "round-robin" scheduling algorithm 


RUN queue 
SWAP queue 
SLEEP queue. 


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that selects the next task waiting for service, swaps in any pieces 
that need to be paged in, and executes the task. Kernel/dispatcher 
552 task manager 576 may transition tasks between the SLEEP 
queue and the "awake" (i.e., RUN or SWAP) queues as needed. 

When two or more tasks try to write to the same data 
structure in a multi-tasking environment, a situation exists that 
may result in "deadly embrace" or "task starvation." A "multi- 
threaded" tasking arrangement may be used to prevent "deadly 
embrace" or "task starvation" from happening. The preferred 
embodiment kernel/dispatcher 552 may support "single threaded" 
or "multi-threaded" tasking. 

In single threaded applications, the kernel/dispatcher 552 
"locks" individual data structures as they are loaded. Once locked, 
no other SPE 503 task may load them and will "block" waiting for 
the data structure to become available. Using a single threaded 
SPE 503 may, as a practical matter, limit the ability of outside 
vendors to create load modules 1100 since there can be no 
assurance that they will not cause a "deadly embrace" with other 
VDE processes about which outside vendors may know little or 
nothing. Moreover, the context swapping of a partially updated 
record might destroy the integrity of the system, permit 
unmetered use, and/or lead to deadlock. In addition, such 
"locking" imposes a potentially indeterminate delay into a typically 


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time critical process, may limit SPE 503 throughput, and may 
increase overhead. 

This issue notwithstanding, there are other significant 
processing issues related to building single-threaded versions of 
SPE 503 that may limit its usefulness or capabilities under some 
circumstances. For example, multiple concurrently executing 
tasks may not be able to process using the same often-needed data 
structure in a single-threaded SPE 503. This may effectively limit 
the number of concurrent tasks to one. Additionally, single- 
threadedness may eliminate the capability of producing accurate 
summary budgets based on a number of concurrent tasks since 
multiple concurrent tasks may not be able to effectively share the 
same summary budget data structure. Single-threadedness may 
also eliminate the capability to support audit processing 
concurrently with other processing. For example, real-time feed 
processing might have to be shut down in order to audit budgets 
and meters associated with the monitoring process. 

One way to provide a more workable "single-threaded" 
capability is for kernel/dispatcher 552 to use virtual page handling 
algorithms to track "dirty pages" as data areas are written to. The 
"dirty pages" can be swapped in and out with the task swap block 
as part of local data associated with the swap block. When a task 
exits, the "dirty pages" can be merged with the current data 
structure (possibly updated by another task for SPU 500) using a 


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three-way merge algorithm (i.e., merging the original data 
structure, the current data structure, and the "dirty pages" to form 
a new current data structure). During the update process, the 
data structure can be locked as the pages are compared and 
5 swapped. Even though this virtual paging solution might be 

workable for allowing single threading in some applications, the 
vendor limitations mentioned above may limit the use of such 
single threaded implementations in some cases to dedicated 
hardware. Any implementation that supports multiple users (e.g., 
10 "smart home" set tops, many desk tops and certain PDA 

applications, etc.) may hit limitations of a single threaded device 
in certain circumstances. 

It is preferable when these limitations are unacceptable to 
15 use a full "multi-threaded" data structure write capabilities. For 

example, a type of "two-phase commit" processing of the type used 
by database vendors may be used to allow data structure sharing 
between processes. To implement this "two-phase commit" 
process, each swap block may contain page addresses for 
20 additional memory blocks that will be used to store changed 

information. A change page is a local copy of a piece of a data 
element that has been written by an SPE process. The changed 
page(s) references associated with a specific data structure are 
stored locally to the swap block in the preferred embodiment. 

25 


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For example, SPE 503 may support two (change pages) per 
data structure. This limit is easily alterable by changing the size 
of the swap block structure and allowing the update algorithm to 
process all of the changed pages. The "commit" process can be 
invoked when a swap block that references changed pages is about 
to be discarded. The commit process takes the original data 
element that was originally loaded (e.g., UDE 0 ), the current data 
element (e.g., UDE„) and the changed pages, and merges them to 
create a new copy of the data element (e.g., UDE,^). Differences 
can be resolved by the DTD interpreter 590 using a DTD for the 
data element. The original data element is discarded (e.g., as 
determined by its DTD use count) if no other swap block 
references it. 

B. Kernel/Dispatcher Memory Management 

Memory manager 578 and virtual memory manager 580 in 
the preferred embodiment manage ROM 532 and RAM 534 
memory within SPU 500 in the preferred embodiment. Virtual 
memory manager 580 provides a fully "virtual" memory system to 
increase the amount of "virtual" RAM available in the SPE secure 
execution space beyond the amount of physical RAM 534a 
provided by SPU 500. Memory manager 578 manages the memory 
in the secure execution space, controlling how it is accessed, 
allocated and deallocated. SPU MMU 540, if present, supports 
virtual memory manager 580 and memory manager 578 in the 
preferred embodiment. In some "minimal" configurations of SPU 


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10 


15 


20 


500 there may be no virtual memory capability and all memory 
management functions will be handled by memory manager 578. 
Memory management can also be used to help enforce the security 
provided by SPE 503. In some classes of SPUs 500, for example, 
the kernel memory manager 578 may use hardware memory 
management unit (MMU) 540 to provide page level protection 
within the SPU 500. Such a hardware-based memory 
management system provides an effective mechanism for 
protecting VDE component assemblies 690 from compromise by 
"rogue" load modules. 

In addition, memory management provided by memory 
manager 578 operating at least in part based on hardware-based 
MMU 540 may securely implement and enforce a memory 
architecture providing multiple protection domains. In such an 
architecture, memory is divided into a plurality of domains that 
are largely isolated from each other and share only specific 
memory areas under the control of the memory manager 578. An 
executing process cannot access memory outside its domain and 
can only communicate with other processes through services 
provided by and mediated by privileged kernel/dispatcher software 
552 within the SPU 500. Such an architecture is more secure if it 
is enforced at least in part by hardware within MMU 540 that 
cannot be modified by any software-based process executing within 


SPU 500. 


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In the preferred embodiment, access to services implemented 
in the ROM 532 and to physical resources such as NVRAM 534b 
and RTC 528 are mediated by the combination of privileged 
kernel/dispatcher software 552 and hardware within MMU 540. 
ROM 532 and RTC 528 requests are privileged in order to protect 
access to critical system component routines (e.g., RTC 528). 

Memory manager 578 is responsible for allocating and 
deallocating memory; supervising sharing of memory resources 
between processes; and enforcing memory access/use restriction. 
The SPE kernel/dispatcher memory manager 578 typically initially 
allocates all memory to kernel 552, and may be configured to 
permit only process-level access to pages as they are loaded by a 
specific process. In one example SPE operating system 
configuration, memory manager 578 allocates memory using a 
simplified allocation mechanism. A list of each memory page 
accessible in SPE 503 may be represented using a bit map 
allocation vector, for example. In a memory block, a group of 
contiguous memory pages may start at a specific page number. 
The size of the block is measured by the number of memory pages 
it spans. Memory allocation may be recorded by setting/clearing 
the appropriate bits in the allocation vector. 

To assist in memory management functions, a "dope vector" 
may be prepended to a memory block. The "dope vector" may 
contain information allowing memory manager 578 to manage that 


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memory block. In its simplest form, a memory block may be 
structured as a "dope vector" followed by the actual memory area 
of the block. This "dope vector" may include the block number, 
support for dynamic paging of data elements, and a marker to 

5 detect memory overwrites. Memory manager 578 may track 

memory blocks by their block number and convert the block 
number to an address before use. All accesses to the memory area 
can be automatically offset by the size of the "dope vector" during 
conversion from a block memory to a physical address. "Dope 

10 vectors" can also be used by virtual memory manager 580 to help 

manage virtual memory. 

The ROM 532 memory management task performed by 
memory manager 578 is relatively simple in the preferred 

15 embodiment. All ROM 532 pages may be flagged as "read only" 

and as "non-pagable." EEPROM 532B memory management may 
be slightly more complex since the "burn count" for each EEPROM 
page may need to be retained. SPU EEPROM 532B may need to 
be protected from all uncontrolled writes to conserve the limited 

20 writable lifetime of certain types of this memory. Furthermore, 

EEPROM pages may in some cases not be the same size as 
memory management address pages. 

SPU NVRAM 534b is preferably battery backed RAM that 
25 has a few access restrictions. Memory manager 578 can ensure 

control structures that must be located in NVRAM 534b are not 


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e 


relocated during "garbage collection" processes. As discussed 
above, memory manager 578 (and MMU 540 if present) may 
protect NVRAM 534b and RAM 534a at a page level to prevent 
tampering by other processes. 

Virtual memory manager 580 provides paging for programs 
and data between SPU external memory and SPU internal RAM 
534a. It is likely that data structures and executable processes 
will exceed the limits of any SPU 500 internal memory. For 
example, PERCs 808 and other fundamental control structures 
may be fairly large, and "bit map meters" may be, or become, very 
large. This eventuality may be addressed in two ways: 

(1) subdividing load modules 1100; and 

(2) supporting virtual paging. 

Load modules 1100 can be "subdivided" in that in many 
instances they can be broken up into separate components only a 
subset of which must be loaded for execution. Load modules 1100 
are the smallest pagable executable element in this example. 
Such load modules 1100 can be broken up into separate 
components (e.g., executable code and plural data description 
blocks), only one of which must be loaded for simple load modules 
to execute. This structure permits a load module 1100 to initially 
load only the executable code and to load the data description 
blocks into the other system pages on a demand basis. Many load 
modules 1100 that have executable sections that are too large to 


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fit into SPU 500 can be restructured into two or more smaller 
independent load modules. Large load modules may be manually 
"split" into multiple load modules that are "chained" together 
using explicit load module references. 

Although "demand paging" can be used to relax some of 
these restrictions, the preferred embodiment uses virtual paging to 
manage large data structures and executables. Virtual Memory 
Manager 580 "swaps" information (e.g., executable code and/or 
data structures) into and out of SPU RAM 534a, and provides 
other related virtual memory management services to allow a full 
virtual memory management capability. Virtual memory 
management may be important to allow limited resource SPU 500 
configurations to execute large and/or multiple tasks. 

C. SPE Load Module Execution Manager 568 

The SPE (HPE) load module execution manager ("LMEM") 
568 loads executables into the memory managed by memory 
manager 578 and executes them. LMEM 568 provides 
mechanisms for tracking load modules that are currently loaded 
inside the protected execution environment. LMEM 568 also 
provides access to basic load modules and code fragments stored 
within, and thus always available to, SPE 503. LMEM 568 may 
be called, for example, by load modules 1100 that want to execute 
other load modules. 


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• 


9 


In the preferred embodiment, the load module execution 
manager 568 includes a load module executor ("program loader") 
570, one or more internal load modules 572, and library routines 
574. Load module executor 570 loads executables into memory 
(e.g., after receiving a memory allocation from memory manager 
578) for execution. Internal load module library 572 may provide 
a set of commonly used basic load modules 1100 (stored in ROM 
532 or NVRAM 534b, for example). Library routines 574 may 
provide a set of commonly used code fragments/routines (e.g., 
bootstrap routines) for execution by SPE 503. 

Library routines 574 may provide a standard set of library 
functions in ROM 532. A standard list of such library functions 
along with their entry points and parameters may be used. Load 
modules 1100 may call these routines (e.g., using an interrupt 
reserved for this purpose). Library calls may reduce the size of 
load modules by moving commonly used code into a central 
location and permitting a higher degree of code reuse. All load 
modules 1100 for use by SPE 503 are preferably referenced by a 
load module execution manager 568 that maintains and scans a 
list of available load modules and selects the appropriate load 
module for execution. If the load module is not present within 
SPE 503, the task is "slept" and LMEM 568 may request that the 
load module 1100 be loaded from secondary storage 562. This 
request may be in the form of an RPC call to secure database 
manager 566 to retrieve the load module and associated data 


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structures, and a call to encrypt/decrypt manager 556 to decrypt 
the load module before storing it in memory allocated by memory 
manager 578. 

In somewhat more detail, the preferred embodiment 
executes a load module 1100 by passing the load module execution 
manager 568 the name (e.g., VDE ID) of the desired load module 
1100. LMEM 568 first searches the list of "in memory" and "built- 
in" load modules 572. If it cannot find the desired load module 
1100 in the list, it requests a copy from the secure database 610 by 
issuing an RPC request that may be handled by ROS secure 
database manager 744 shown in Figure 12. Load module 
execution manager 568 may then request memory manager 578 to 
allocate a memory page to store the load module 1100. The load 
module execution manager 568 may copy the load module into that 
memory page, and queue the page for decryption and security 
checks by encrypt/decrypt manager 556 and key and tag manager 
558. Once the page is decrypted and checked, the load module 
execution manager 568 checks the validation tag and inserts the 
load module into the list of paged in modules and returns the page 
address to the caller. The caller may then call the load module 
1100 directly or allow the load module execution module 570 to 
make the call for it. 

Figure 15a shows a detailed example of a possible format for 
a channel header 596 and a channel 594 containing channel detail 


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records 594(1), 594(2), . . . 594(N). Channel header 596 may 
include a channel ID field 597(1), a user ID field 597(2), an object 
ID field 597(3), a field containing a reference or other 
identification to a "right 44 (i.e., a collection of events supported by 
methods referenced in a PERC 808 and/or "user rights table" 464) 
597(4), an event queue 597(5), and one or more fields 598 that 
cross-reference particular event codes with channel detail records 
("CDRs"). Channel header 596 may also include a "jump" or 
reference table 599 that permits addressing of elements within an 
associated component assembly or assemblies 690. Each CDR 
594(1), . . . 594(N) corresponds to a specific event (event code) to 
which channel 594 may respond. In the preferred embodiment, 
these CDRs may include explicitly and/or by reference each 
method core 1000' (or fragment thereof), load module 1100 and 
data structure(s), (e.g., URT, UDE 1200 and/or MDE 1202) needed 
to process the corresponding event. In the preferred embodiment, 
one or more of the CDRs (e.g., 594(1)) may reference a control 
method and a URT 464 as a data structure. 

Figure 15b shows an example of program control steps 
performed by SPE 503 to "open" a channel 594 in the preferred 
embodiment. In the preferred embodiment, a channel 594 
provides event processing for a particular VDE object 300, a 
particular authorized user, and a particular "right" (i.e., type of 
event). These three parameters may be passed to SPE 503. Part 
of SPE kernel/dispatcher 552 executing within a "channel 0" 


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constructed by low level services 582 during a "bootstrap" routine 
may respond initially to this "open channel" event by allocating an 
available channel supported by the processing resources of SPE 
503 (block 1125). This "channel 0" "open channel" task may then 
issue a series of requests to secure database manager 566 to 
obtain the "blueprint" for constructing one or more component 
assemblies 690 to be associated with channel 594 (block 1127). In 
the preferred embodiment, this "blueprint" may comprise a PERC 
808 and/or URT 464. In may be obtained by using the "Object, 
User, Right" parameters passed to the "open channel" routine to 
"chain" together object registration table 460 records, user/object 
table 462 records, URT 464 records, and PERC 808 records. This 
"open channel" task may preferably place calls to key and tag 
manager 558 to validate and correlate the tags associated with 
these various records to ensure that they are authentic and match. 
The preferred embodiment process then may write appropriate 
information to channel header 596 (block 1129). Such information 
may include, for example, User ID, Object ED, and a reference to 
the "right" that the channel will process. The preferred 
embodiment process may next use the "blueprint" to access (e.g, 
the secure database manager 566 and/or from load module 
execution manager libraries) 568) the appropriate "control 
method" that may be used to, in effect, supervise execution of all of 
the other methods 1000 within the channel 594 (block 1131). The 
process may next "bind" this control method to the channel (block 
1133), which step may include binding information from a URT 


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464 into the channel as a data structure for the control method. 
The process may then pass an "initialization" event into channel 
594 (block 1135). This "initialization" event may be created by the 
channel services manager 562, the process that issued the original 
call requesting a service being fulfilled by the channel being built, 
or the control method just bound to the channel could itself 
possibly generate an initialization event which it would in effect 
pass to itself. 

In response to this "initialization" event, the control method 
may construct the channel detail records 594(1), . . . 594(N) used 
to handle further events other than the "initialization" event. The 
control method executing "within" the channel may access the 
various components it needs to construct associated component 
assemblies 690 based on the "blueprint" accessed at step 1127 
(block 1137). Each of these components is bound to the channel 
594 (block 1139) by constructing an associated channel detail 
record specifying the method core(s) 1000', load module(s) 1100, 
and associated data structure(s) (e.g., UDE(s) 1200 and/or MDE(s) 
1202) needed to respond to the event. The number of channel 
detail records will depend on the number of events that can be 
serviced by the "right," as specified by the "blueprint" (i.e., URT 
464). During this process, the control method will construct "swap 
blocks" to, in effect, set up all required tasks and obtain necessary 
memory allocations from kernel 562. The control method will, as 
necessary, issue calls to secure database manager 566 to retrieve 


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necessary components from secure database 610, issue calls to 
encrypt/decrypt manager 556 to decrypt retrieved encr^ ; -ted 
information, and issue calls to key and tag manager 558 to ensure 
that all retrieved components are validated. Each of the various 
5 component assemblies 690 so constructed are T>ound a to the 

channel through the channel header event code/pointer records 598 
and by constructing appropriate swap blocks referenced by channel 
detail records 594(1), . . . 594(N). When this process is complete, 
the channel 594 has been completely constructed and is ready to 
10 respond to further events. As a last step, the Figure 15b process 

may, if desired, deallocate the "initialization* event task in order 
to free up resources. 

Once a channel 594 has been constructed in this fashion, it 
will respond to events as they arrive. Channel services manager 
562 is responsible for dispatching events to channel 594. Each 
time a new event arrives (e.g,, via an RPC call), channel services 
manager 562 examines the event to determine whether a channel 
already exists that is capable of processing it. If a channel does 
exist, then the channel services manager 562 passes the event to 
that channel. To process the event, it may be necessary for task 
manager 576 to "swap in a certain "swappable blocks" defined by 
the channel detail records as active tasks. In this way, executable 
component assemblies 690 formed during the channel open process 
shown in Figure 15b are placed into active secure execution space, 
the particular component assembly that is activated being selected 


15 


20 


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9 


in response to the received event code. The activated task will 
then perform its desired function in response to the event. 

To destroy a channel, the various swap blocks defined by the 
channel detail records are destroyed, the identification information 
in the channel header 596 is wiped clean, and the channel is made 
available for re-allocation by the "channel 0" "open channel" task. 

D. SPE Interrupt Handlers 584 

As shown in Figure 13, kernel/dispatcher 552 also provides 
internal interrupt handlers) 584. These help to manage the 
resources of SPU 500. SPU 500 preferably executes in either 
"interrupt" or "polling" mode for all significant components. In 
polling mode, kernel/dispatcher 552 may poll each of the 
sections/circuits within SPU 500 and emulate an interrupt for 
them. The following interrupts are preferably supported by SPU 
500 in the preferred embodiment: 

"tick" of RTC 528 

interrupt from bus interface 530 

• power fail interrupt 

• watchdog timer interrupt 

• interrupt from encrypt/decrypt engine 522 
memory interrupt (e.g., from MMU 540). 

When an interrupt occurs, an interrupt controller within 
microprocessor 520 may cause the microprocessor to begin 


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executing an appropriate interrupt handler. An interrupt handler 
is a piece of software/firmware provided by kernel/dispatcher 552 
that allows microprocessor 520 to perform particular functions 
upon the occurrence of an interrupt. The interrupts may be 
"vectored" so that different interrupt sources may effectively cause 
different interrupt handlers to be executed. 

A "timer tick" interrupt is generated when the real-time 
RTC 528 "pulses." The timer tick interrupt is processed by a timer 
tick interrupt handler to calculate internal device date/time and to 
generate timer events for channel processing. 

The bus interface unit 530 may generate a series of 
interrupts. In the preferred embodiment, bus interface 530, 
modeled after a USART, generates interrupts for various 
conditions (e.g., "receive buffer full," "transmitter buffer empty," 
and "status word change"). Kernel/dispatcher 552 services the 
transmitter buffer empty interrupt by sending the next character 
from the transmit queue to the bus interface 530. 
Kernel/dispatcher interrupt handler 584 may service the received 
buffer full interrupt by reading a character, appending it to the 
current buffer, and processing the buffer based on the state of the 
service engine for the bus interface 530. Kernel/dispatcher 552 
preferably processes a status word change interrupt and addresses 
the appropriate send/receive buffers accordingly. 


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SPU 500 generates a power fail interrupt when it detects an 
imminent power fail condition. This may require immediate action 
to prevent loss of information. For example, in the preferred 
embodiment, a power fail interrupt moves all recently written 
information (i.e., "dirty pages") into non-volatile NVRAM 534b, 
marks all swap blocks as "swapped out," and sets the appropriate 
power fail flag to facilitate recovery processing. Kernel/dispatcher 
552 may then periodically poll the "power fail bit" in a status 
word until the data is cleared or the power is removed completely. 

SPU 500 in the example includes a conventional watchdog 
timer that generates watchdog timer interrupts on a regular basis. 
A watchdog timer interrupt handler performs internal device 
checks to ensure that tampering is not occurring. The internal 
clocks of the watchdog timer and RTC 528 are compared to ensure 
SPU 500 is not being paused or probed, and other internal checks 
on the operation of SPU 500 are made to detect tampering. 

The encryption/decryption engine 522 generates an interrupt 
when a block of data has been processed. The kernel interrupt 
handler 584 adjusts the processing status of the block being 
encrypted or decrypted, and passes the block to the next stage of 
processing. The next block scheduled for the encryption service 
then has its key moved into the encrypt/decrypt engine 522, and 
the next cryptographic process started. 


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A memory management unit 540 interrupt is generated 
when a task attempts to access me, ory outside the areas assigned 
to it. A memory management interrupt handler traps the request, 
and takes the necessary action (e.g., by initiating a control transfer 
to memory manager 578 and/or virtual memory manager 580). 
Generally, the task will be failed, a page fault exception will be 
generated, or appropriate virtual memory page(s) will be paged in. 

E. Kernel/Dispatcher Low Level Services 582 

Low level services 582 in the preferred embodiment provide 
"low level" functions. These functions in the preferred 
embodiment may include, for example, power-on initialization, 
device POST, and failure recovery routines. Low level services 582 
may also in the preferred embodiment provide (either by 
themselves or in combination with authentication manager/service 
communications manager 564) download response-challenge and 
authentication communication protocols, and may provide for 
certain low level management of SPU 500 memory devices such as 
EEPROM and FLASH memory (either alone or in combination 
with memory manager 578 and/or virtual memory manager 580). 

F. Kernel/Dispatcher BIU handler 586 

BIU handler 586 in the preferred embodiment manages the 
bus interface unit 530 (if present). It may, for example, maintain 
read and write buffers for the BIU 530, provide BIU startup 
initialization, etc. 


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G. Kernel/Dispatcher DTD Interpreter 590 

DTD interpreter 590 in the preferred embodiment handles 
data formatting issues. For example, the DTD interpreter 590 
may automatically open data structures such as UDEs 1200 based 
on formatting instructions contained within DTDs. 

The SPE kernel/dispatcher 552 discussed above supports all 
of the other services provided by SPE 503. Those other services 
are discussed below. 

II. SPU Channel Services Manager 662 

"Channels" are the basic task processing mechanism of SPE 
503 (HPE 655) in the preferred embodiment. ROS 602 provides an 
event-driven interface for "methods." A "channel" allows 
component assemblies 690 to service events. A "channel" is a 
conduit for passing "events" from services supported by SPE 503 
(HPE 655) to the various methods and load modules that have 
been specified to process these events, and also supports the 
assembly of component assemblies 690 and interaction between 
component assemblies. In more detail, "channel" 594 is a data 
structure maintained by channel manager 593 that "binds" 
together one or more load modules 1100 and data structures (e.g., 
UDEs 1200 and/or MDEs 1202) into a component assembly 690. ' 
Channel services manager 562 causes load module execution 
manager 569 to load the component assembly 690 for execution, 
and may also be responsible for passing events into the channel 


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594 for response by a component assembly 690. In the preferred 
embodiment, event processing is handled as a message to the 
channel service manager 562. 

Figure 15 is a diagram showing how the preferred 
embodiment channel services manager 562 constructs a "channel" 
594, and also shows the relationship between the channel and 
component assemblies 690. Briefly, the SPE channel manager 562 
establishes a "channel" 594 and an associated "channel header" 
596. The channel 594 and its header 596 comprise a data 
structure that "binds" or references elements of one or more 
component assemblies 690. Thus, the channel 594 is the 
mechanism in the preferred embodiment that collects together or 
assembles the elements shown in Figure HE into a component 
assembly 690 that may be used for event processing. 

The channel 594 is set up by the channel services manager 
562 in response to the occurrence of an event. Once the channel is 
created, the channel services manager 562 may issue function calls 
to load module execution manager 568 based on the channel 594. 
The load module execution manager 568 loads the load modules 
1100 referenced by a channel 594, and requests execution services 
by the kernel/dispatcher task manager 576. The kernel/dispatcher 
552 treats the event processing request as a task, and executes it 
by executing the code within the load modules 1100 referenced by 
the channel. 


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# 


The channel services manager 562 may be passed an 
identification of the event (e.g., the "event code"). The channel 
services manager 562 parses one or more method cores 1000' that 
are part of the component assembly(ies) 690 the channel services 
manager is to assemble. It performs this parsing to determine 
which method(s) and data structure(s) are invoked by the type of 
event. Channel manager 562 then issues calls (e.g., to secure 
database manager 566) to obtain the methods and data 
structure(s) needed to build the component assembly 690. These 
called-for method(s) and data structure(s) (e.g., load modules 1100, 
UDEs 1200 and/or MDEs 1202) are each decrypted using 
encrypt/decrypt manager 556 (if necessary), and are then each 
validated using key and tag manager 558. Channel manager 562 
constructs any necessary "jump table" references to, in effect, 
"link" or "bind" the elements into a single cohesive executable so 
the load module(s) can reference data structures and any other 
load module(s) in the component assembly. Channel manager 562 
may then issue calls to LMEM 568 to load the executable as an 
active task. 

Figure 15 shows that a channel 594 may reference another 
channel. An arbitrary number of channels 594 may be created by 
channel manager 594 to interact with one another. 

"Channel header" 596 in the preferred embodiment is (or 
references) the data structure(s) and associated control program(s) 


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that queues events from channel event sources, processes these 
events, and re = -ases the appropriate tasks specified in the 
"channel detail record" for processing. A "channel detail record" in 
the preferred embodiment links an event to a "swap block" (i.e., 
5 task) associated with that event. The "swap block" may reference 

one or more load modules 1100, UDEs 1200 and private data areas 
required to properly process the event. One swap block and a 
corresponding channel detail item is created for each different 
event the channel can respond to. 

10 

In the preferred embodiment, Channel Services Manager 
562 may support the following (internal) calls to support the 
creation and maintenance of channels 562: 


Call Name 

Source 

Description 

"Write 
Event" 

Write 

Writes an event to the channel for response by 
the channel. The Write Event call thus permit 
the caller to insert an event into the event 
queue associated with the channel. The event 
will be processed in turn by the channel 594. 

"Bind 
Item" 

Ioctl 

Binds an item to a channel with the 
appropriate processing algorithm. The Biiyl 
Item call permits the caller to bind a VDE 
item ID to a channel (e.g., to create one or 
more swap blocks associated with a channel). 
This call may manipulate the contents of 
individual swap blocks. 


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"Unbind 
Item" 


Ioctl 


Unbinds an item from a channel with the 
appropriate processing algorithm. The Unbind 
Item call permits the caller to break the 
binding of an item to a swap block. This call 
may manipulate the contents of individual 
swap blocks. 


SPE RPC Manager 550 

As described in connection with Figure 12, the architecture 
of ROS 602 is based on remote procedure calls in the preferred 
embodiment. ROS 602 includes an RPC Manager 732 that passes 
RPC calls between services each of which present an RPC service 
interface ("RSI") to the RPC manager. In the preferred 
embodiment, SPE 503 (HPE 655) is also built around the same 
RPC concept. The SPE 503 (HPE 655) may include a number of 
internal modular service providers each presenting an RSI to an 
RPC manager 550 internal to the SPE (HPE). These internal 
service providers may communicate with each other and/or with 
ROS RPC manager 732 (and thus, with any other service provided 
by ROS 602 and with external services), using RPC service 
requests. 

RPC manager 550 within SPE 503 (HPE 655) is not the 
same as RPC manager 732 shown in Figure 12, but it performs a 
similar function within the SPE (HPE): it receives RPC requests 
and passes them to the RSI presented by the service that is to 


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fulfill the request. In the preferred embodiment, requests are 
paired between ROS RPC manager 732 and the outside world (i.e., 
SPE device driver 736) via the SPE (HPE) Kernel/Dispatcher 552. 
Kernel/Dispatcher 552 may be able to service certain RPC requests 
5 itself, but in general it passes received requests to RPC manager 

550 for routing to the appropriate service internal to the SPE 
(HPE). In an alternate embodiment, requests may be passed 
directly between the HPE, SPE, API, Notification interface, and 
other external services instead of routing them through the ROS 

10 RPC manager 732. The decision on which embodiment to use is 

part of the scalability of the system; some embodiments are more 
efficient than others under various traffic loads and system 
configurations. Responses by the services (and additional service 
requests they may themselves generate) are provided to RPC 

15 Manager 550 for routing to other service(s) internal or external to 

SPE 503 (HPE 655). 


SPE RPC Manager 550 and its integrated service manager 
uses two tables to dispatch remote procedure calls: an RPC 

20 services table, and an optional RPC dispatch table. The RPC 

services table describes where requests for specific services are to 
be routed for processing. In the preferred embodiment, this table 
is constructed in SPU RAM 534a or NVRAM 534b, and lists each 
RPC service "registered" within SPU 500. Each row of the RPC 

25 services table contains a service ID, its location and address, and a 

control byte. In simple implementations, the control byte indicates 


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only that the service is provided internally or externally. In more 
complex implementations, the control byte can indicate an 
instance of the service (e.g., each service may have multiple 
"instances" in a multi-tasking environment). ROS RPC manager 
732 and SPE 503 may have symmetric copies of the RPC services 
table in the preferred embodiment. If an RPC service is not found 
in the RPC services table, SPE 503 may either reject it or pass it 
to ROS RPC manager 732 for service. 

The SPE RPC manager 550 accepts the request from the 
RPC service table and processes that request in accordance with 
the internal priorities associated with the specific service. In SPE 
503, the RPC service table is extended by an RPC dispatch table. 
The preferred embodiment RPC dispatch table is organized as a 
list of Load Module references for each RPC service supported 
internally by SPE 503. Each row in the table contains a load 
module ID that services the call, a control byte that indicates 
whether the call can be made from an external caller, and whether 
the load module needed to service the call is permanently resident 
in SPU 500. The RPC dispatch table may be constructed in SPU 
ROM 532 (or EEPROM) when SPU firmware 508 is loaded into 
the SPU 500. If the RPC dispatch table is in EEPROM, it flexibly 
allows for updates to the services without load module location 
and version control issues. 


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In the preferred embodiment, SPE RPC manager 550 first 
references a service request against the RPC service table to 
determine the location of the service manager that may service the 
request. The RPC manager 550 then routes the service request to 
the appropriate service manager for action. Service requests are 
handled by the service manager within the SPE 503 using the 
RPC dispatch table to dispatch the request. Once the RPC 
manager 550 locates the service reference in the RPC dispatch 
table, the load module that services the request is called and 
loaded using the load module execution manager 568. The load 
module execution manager 568 passes control to the requested 
load module after performing all required context configuration, or 
if necessary may first issue a request to load it from the external 
management files 610. 


SPU Time Base Manager 554 

The time base manager 554 supports calls that relate to the 
real time clock CRTC") 528. In the preferred embodiment, the 
time base manager 554 is always loaded and ready to respond to 
time based requests* 

The table below lists examples of basic calls that may be 
supported by the time base manager 554: 


Call Name | Description 


Independent requests 


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Call Name 

Description 

Get Time 

Returns the time (local, GMT, or ticks). 

Set time 

Sets the time in the RTC 528. Access to this 
command may be restricted to a VDE 
administrator. 

Adjust time 

Changes the time in the RTC 528. Access to 
this command may be restricted to a VDE 
administrator. 

Set Time 
Parameter 

Set GMT / local time conversion and the 
current and allowable magnitude of user 
adjustments to RTC 528 time. 

Channel Services Manager Requests 

Bind Time 

Bind timer services to a channel as an event 
source. 

Unbind 
Time 

Unbind timer services from a channel as an 
event source. 

Set Alarm 

Sets an alarm notification for a specific time. 
The user will be notified by an alarm event 
at the time of the alarm. Parameters to this 
request determine the event, frequency, and 
requested processing for the alarm. 

Clear Alarm 

Cancels a requested alarm notification. 


SPU Encryption/Decryption Manager 556 

The Encryption/Deayption Manager 556 supports calls to 
the various encryption/decryption techniques supported by SPE 
503/HPE 655. It may be supported by a hardware-based 
encryption/decryption engine 522 within SPU 500. Those 
encryption/decryption technologies not supported by SPU 
encrypt/decrypt engine 522 may be provided by encrypt/decrypt 
manager 556 in software. The primary bulk encryption/decryption 


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load modules preferably are loaded at all times, and the load 
modules necessary for other algorithms are preferably paged in as 
needed. Thus, if the primary bulk encryption/decryption algorithm 
is DES, only the DES load modules need be permanently resident 
in the RAM 534a of SPE 503/HPE 655. 


The following are examples of RPC calls supported by 
Encrypt/Decrypt Manager 556 in the preferred embodiment: 


Call Name 

Description 

PK Encrypt 

Encrypt a block using a PK (public key) 
algorithm. 

PK Decrypt 

Decrypt a block using a PK algorithm. 

DES 
Encrypt 

Encrypt a block using DES. 

DES 
Decrypt 

Decrypt a block using DES. 

RC-4 
Encrypt 

Encrypt a block using the RC-4 (or other 
bulk encryption) algorithm. 

RC-4 
Decrypt 

Decrypt a block using the RC-4 (or other 
bulk encryption) algorithm. 

Initialize 

DES 

Instance 

Initialize DES instance to be used. 

Initialize 

RC-4 

Instance 

Initialize RC-4 instance to be used. 


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Initialize 

MD5 

Instance 

Initialize MD5 instance to be used. 

Process 
MD5 Block 

Process MD5 block. 


The call parameters passed may include the key to be used; 
mode (encryption or decryption); any needed Initialization Vectors; 
the desired cryptographic operating (e.g., type of feedback); the 
identification of the cryptographic instance to be used; and the 
start address, destination address, and length of the block to be 
encrypted or decrypted. 

SPU Key and Tag Manager 558 

The SPU Key and Tag Manager 558 supports calls for key 
storage, key and management file tag look up, key convolution, 
and the generation of random keys, tags, and transaction numbers. 


The following table shows an example of a list of SPE/HPE 
key and tag manager service 558 calls: 


Call Nam* 

Description 

Key Requests 

Get Key 

Retrieve the requested key. 

Set Key 

Set (store) the specified key. 

Generate Key 

Generate a key (pair) for a specified algorithm. 

Generate Convoluted 
Key 

Generate a key using a specified convolution 
algorithm and algorithm parameter block. 


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Get Convolution 
Algorithm 

Return the currently set (default) convolution 
parameters for a specific convolution algorithm. 

Set Convolution 
Algorithm 

Sets the convolution parameters for a specific 
convolution algorithm (calling routine must provide a 
tag to read returned contents). 

Tag Request! 

Get Tag 

Get the validation (or other) tag for a specific VDE 
Item ID. 

Set Tag 

Set the validation (or other) tag for a specific VDE 
Item ID to a known value. 

Calculate Hash Block 
Number 

Calculate the "hash block number" for a specific VDE 
Item ID. 

Set Hash Parameters 

Set the hash parameters and hash algorithm. Forces 
a resynchronization of the hash table. 

Get Hash Parameters 

Retrieve the current hash parameters/algorithm. 

Synchronize 
Management Files 

Synchronize the management files and rebuild the 
hash block tables based on information found in the 
tables. Reserved for VDE administrator. 


Keys and tags may be securely generated within SPE 503 
(HPE 655) in the preferred embodiment. The key generation 
algorithm is typically specific to each type of encryption supported. 
The generated keys may be checked for cryptographic weakness 
before they are used. A request for Key and Tag Manager 558 to 
generate a key, tag and/or transaction number preferably takes a 
length as its input parameter. It generates a random number (or 
other appropriate key value) of the requested length as its output. 

The key and tag manager 558 may support calls to retrieve 
specific keys from the key storage areas in SPU 500 and any keys 
stored external to the SPU. The basic format of the calls is to 
request keys by key type and key number. Many of the keys are 


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10 


15 


20 


periodically updated through contact with the VDE administrator, 
and are kept within SPU 500 in NVRAM 534b or EEPROM 
because these memories are secure, updatable and non- volatile. 

SPE 503/HPE 655 may support both Public Key type keys 
and Bulk Encryption type keys. The public key (PK) encryption 
type keys stored by SPU 500 and managed by key and tag 
manager 558 may include, for example, a device public key, a 
device private key, a PK certificate, and a public key for the 
certificate. Generally, public keys and certificates can be stored 
externally in non-secured memory if desired, but the device private 
key and the public key for the certificate should only be stored 
internally in an SPU 500 EEPROM or NVRAM 534b. Some of the 
types of bulk encryption keys used by the SPU 500 may include, 
for example, general-purpose bulk encryption keys, administrative 
object private header keys, stationary object private header keys, 
traveling object private header keys, downloadAnitialization keys, 
backup keys, trail keys, and management file keys. 

As discussed above, preferred embodiment Key and Tag 
Manager 558 supports requests to adjust or convolute keys to 
make new keys that are produced in a deterministic way 
dependent on site and/or time, for example. Key convolution is an 
algorithmic process that acts on a key and some set of input 
parameters) to yield a new key. It can be used, for example, to 
increase the number of keys available for use without incurring 


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additional key storage space. It may also be used, for example, as 
a process to "age" keys by incorporating the value of real-time RTC 
528 as parameters. It can be used to make keys site specific by 
incorporating aspects of the site ID as parameters. 

Key and Tag Manager 558 also provides services relating to 
tag generation and management. In the preferred embodiment, 
transaction and access tags are preferably stored by SPE 503 
(HPE 655) in protected memory (e.g., within the NVRAM 534b of 
SPU 500). These tags may be generated by key and tag manager 
558. They are used to, for example, check access rights to, 
validate and correlate data elements. For example, they may be 
used to ensure components of the secured data structures are not 
tampered with outside of the SPU 500. Key and tag manager 558 
may also support a trail transaction tag and a communications 
transaction tag. 

SPU Summary Services Manager 560 

SPE 503 maintains an audit trail in reprogrammable non- 
volatile memory within the SPU 500 and/or in secure database 
610. This audit trail may consist of an audit summary of budget 
activity for financial purposes, and a security summary of SPU 
use. When a request is made to the SPU, it logs the request as 
having occurred and then notes whether the request succeeded or 
failed. All successful requests may be summed and stored by type 


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6 


in the SPU 500. Failure information, including the elements listed 
below, may be saved along with details of the failure: 


Control Information Retained in 
an SPE on Access Failures 

Object ID 

User ID 

Type of failure 

Time of failure 


This information may be analyzed to detect cracking attempts or 
to determine patterns of usage outside expected (and budgeted) 
norms. The audit trail histories in the SPU 500 may be retained 
until the audit is reported to the appropriate parties. This will 
allow both legitimate failure analysis and attempts to 
cryptoanalyze the SPU to be noted. 

Summary services manager 560 may store and maintain this 
internal summary audit information. This audit information can 
be used to check for security breaches or other aspects of the 
operation of SPE 503. The event summaries may be maintained, 
analyzed and used by SPE 503 (HPE 655) or a VDE administrator 
to determine and potentially limit abuse of electronic appliance 
600. In the preferred embodiment, such parameters may be stored 
in secure memory (e.g., within the NVRAM 534b of SPU 500). 


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There are two basic structures for which summary services 
are used in the preferred embodiment. One (the "event summary 
data structure") is VDE administrator specific and keeps track of 
events. The event summary structure may be maintained and 
audited during periodic contact with VDE administrators. The 
other is used by VDE administrators and/or distributors for overall 
budget. A VDE administrator may register for event summaries 
and an overall budget summary at the time an electronic 
appliance 600 is initialized. The overall budget summary may be 
reported to and used by a VDE administrator in determining 
distribution of consumed budget (for example) in the case of 
corruption of secure management files 610. Participants that 
receive appropriate permissions can register their processes (e.g., 
specific budgets) with summary services manager 560, which may 
then reserve protected memory space (e.g., within NVRAM 534b) 
and keep desired use and/or access parameters. Access to and 
modification of each summary can be controlled by its own access 
tag. 


The following table shows an example of a list of PPE 
summary service manager 560 service calls: 


Call Name 

Description 

Create summary 
info 

Create a summary service if the user 
has a "ticket" that permits her to 
request this service. 


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Get value 

Return the current value of the 
summary service, 'iiie caller must 
present an appropriate tag (and/or 
"ticket") to use this request. 

Set value 

Set the value of a summary service. 

Increment 

Increment the specified summary 
service(e.g., a scalar meter summary 
data area). The caller must present 
an appropriate tag (and/or "ticket") to 
use this request. 

Destroy 

Destroy the specified summary 
service if the user has a tag and/or 
"ticket" that permits them to request 
this service. 


In the preferred embodiment, the event summary data 
structure uses a fixed event number to index into a look up table. 
The look up table contains a value that can be configured as a 
counter or a counter plus limit. Counter mode may be used by 
VDE administrators to determine device usage. The limit mode 
may be used to limit tampering and attempts to misuse the 
electronic appliance 600. Exceeding a limit will result in SPE 503 
(HPE 655) refusing to service user requests until it is reset by a 
VDE administrator. Calls to the system wide event summary 
process may preferably be built into all load modules that process 
the events that are of interest. 

The following table shows examples of events that may be 
separately metered by the preferred embodiment event summary 
data structure: 


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Event Type 

Successful Initialization completed successfully. 

Events Use r authentication accepted. 

Communica tions established. 

Channel loads set for specified values. 

Decryption completed- 

Key information updated. 

New budget created or existing budget 

updated. 

New billing information generated or 

existing billing updated. 

New meter set up or existing meter 

updated. 

New PERC created or existing PERC 

updated. 

New objects registered. 

Administrative objects successfully 

processed. 

Audit processed successfully. 

All other events. 

Failed Events Initialization failed. 

Authentication failed. 

Communic ation attempt failed. 

Request to load a channel failed. 

Validation attempt unsuccessful. 

Link to subsidiary item failed 
correlation tag match. 

Authorization attempt failed. 

Decryption attempt failed. 

Available budget insufficient to 
complete requested procedure. 

Audit did not occur. 


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Administrative object did not process 


correctly. 


Other failed events. 


Another, "overall currency budget" summary data structure 
maintained by the preferred embodiment summary services 
manager 560 allows registration of VDE electronic appliance 600. 
The first entry is used for an overall currency budget consumed 
value, and is registered by the VDE administrator that first 
initializes SPE 503 (HPE 655). Certain currency consuming load 
modules and audit load modules that complete the auditing 
process for consumed currency budget may call the summary 
services manager 560 to update the currency consumed value. 
Special authorized load modules may have access to the overall 
currency summary, while additional summaries can be registered 
for by individual providers. 

SPE Authentication Manager/Service CommunicationB 
Manager 564 

The Authentication Manager/Service Communications 
Manager 564 supports calls for user password validation and 
"ticket" generation and validation. It may also support secure 
communications between SPE 503 and an external node or device 
(e.g., a VDE administrator or distributor). It may support the 
following examples of authentication-related service requests in 
the preferred embodiment: 


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5 


Call Name | Description 

User Services . 

Create User 

Creates a new user and stores Name services 
Records (NSRs) for use by the Name Services 
Manager 752. 

Authenticate 
User 

Authenticates a user for use of the system. This 
request lets the caller authenticate as a specific 
user ID. Group membership is also 
authenticated by this request. The 
authentication returns a n ticket a for the user. 

Delete User 

Deletes a user's NSR and related records. 

Ticket Services 

Generate 
Ticket 

Generates a "ticket" for use of one or more 
services. 

Authenticate 
Ticket 

Authenticates a "ticket." 


Not included in the table above are calls to the secure 
15 communications service. The secure communications service 

provided by manager 564 may provide (e.g., in conjunction with 
low-level services manager 582 if desired) secure communications 
based on a public key (or others) challenge-response protocol. This 
protocol is discussed in further detail elsewhere in this document. 
20 Tickets identify users with respect to the electronic appliance 600 

in the case where the appliance may be used by multiple users. 
Tickets may be requested by and returned to VDE software 
applications through a ticket-granting protocol (e.g., Kerberos). 
VDE components may require tickets to be presented in order to 
25 authorize particular services. 


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SPE Secure Database Manager 566 

Secure database manager 566 retrieves, maintains and 
stores secure database records within secure database 610 on 
memory external to SPE 503. Many of these secure database files 
5 610 are in encrypted form. All secure information retrieved by 

secure database manager 566 therefore must be decrypted by 
encrypt/decrypt manager 556 before use. Secure information (e.g., 
records of use) produced by SPE 503 (HPE 655) which must be 
stored external to the secure execution environment are also 
10 encrypted by encrypt/decrypt manager 556 before they are stored 

via secure database manager 566 in a secure database file 610. 

For each VDE item loaded into SPE 503, Secure Database 
manager 566 in the preferred embodiment may search a master 

15 list for the VDE item ID, and then check the corresponding 

transaction tag against the one in the item to ensure that the item 
provided is the current item. Secure Database Manager 566 may 
maintain list of VDE item ID and transaction tags in a "hash 
structure" that can be paged into SPE 503 to quickly locate the 

20 appropriate VDE item ID. In smaller systems, a look up table 

approach may be used. In either case, the list should be 
structured as a pagable structure that allows VDE item ID to be 
located quickly. 

25 The "hash based" approach may be used to sort the list into 

"hash buckets" that may then be accessed to provide more rapid 


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10 


and efficient location of items in the list. In the "hash based" 
approach, the VDE item liJs are "hashed" through a subset of the 
full item ID and organized as pages of the "hashed" table. Each 
"hashed" page may contain the rest of the VDE item ID and 
current transaction tag for each item associated with that page. 
The "hash" table page number may be derived from the 
components of the VDE item ID, such as distribution ID, item ID, 
site ID, user ID, transaction tag, creator ID, type and/or version. 
The hashing algorithm (both the algorithm itself and the 
parameters to be hashed) may be configurable by a VDE 
administrator on a site by site basis to provide optimum hash page 
use. An example of a hash page structure appears below: 


15 


20 


25 


Field 


Hash Page Header 


Distributor ID 


Item ID 


Site ID 


User ID 


Transaction Tag 


Hash Page Entry 


Creator ID 


Item ID 


Type 


Version 


Transaction Tag 


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In this example, each hash page may contain all of the VDE 
item IDs and transaction tags for items that have identical 
distributor ID, item ID, and user ID fields (site ID will be fixed for 
a given electronic appliance 600). These four pieces of information 
5 may thus be used as hash algorithm parameters. 

The "hash" pages may themselves be frequently updated, 
and should carry transaction tags that are checked each time a 
"hash" page is loaded. The transaction tag may also be updated 
10 each time a "hash" page is written out. 

As an alternative to the hash-based approach, if the number 
of updatable items is kept small (such as in a dedicated consumer 
electronic appliance 600), then assigning each updatable item a 
15 unique sequential site record number as part of its VDE item ID 

may allow a look up table approach to be used. Only a small 
number of bytes of transaction tag are needed per item, and a 
table transaction tag for all frequently updatable items can be 
kept in protected memory such as SPU NVRAM 534b. 

20 

Random Value Generator Manager 565 

Random Value Generator Manager 565 may generate 
random values. If a hardware-based SPU random value generator 
542 is present, the Random Value Generator Manager 565 may 
25 use it to assist in generating random values. 


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10 


Other SPE RPC Services 692 

Other authorized RPC services may be included in SPU 500 
by having them "register" themselves in the RPC Services Table 
and adding their entries to the RPC Dispatch Table. For example, 
one or more component assemblies 690 may be used to provide 
additional services as an integral part of SPE 503 and its 
associated operating system. Requests to services not registered 
in these tables will be passed out of SPE 503 (HPE 655) for 
external servicing. 


SPE 603 Performance Coneiderations 

Performance of SPE 503 (HPE 655) is a function of: 

• complexity of the component assemblies used 

• number of simultaneous component assembly 
15 operations 

amount of internal SPU memory available 
speed of algorithm for block encryption/decryption 

The complexity of component assembly processes along with 
20 the number of simultaneous component assembly processes is 

perhaps the primary factor in determining performance. These 
factors combine to determine the amount of code and data and 
must be resident in SPU 500 at any one time (the minimum device 
size) and thus the number of device size "chunks" the processes 
25 must be broken down into. Segmentation inherently increases run 
time size over simpler models. Of course, feature limited versions 


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9 


of SPU 500 may be implemented using significantly smaller 
amounts of RAM 534. "Aggregate* load modules as described 
above may remove flexibility in configuring VDE structures and 
also further limit the ability of participants to individually update 
otherwise separated elements, but may result in a smaller 
minimum device size. A very simple metering version of SPU 500 
can be constructed to operate with minimal device resources. 

The amount of RAM 534 internal to SPU 500 has more 
impact on the performance of the SPE 503 than perhaps any other 
aspect of the SPU. The flexible nature of VDE processes allows 
use of a large number of load modules, methods and user data 
elements. It is impractical to store more than a small number of 
these items in ROM 532 within SPU 500. Most of the code and 
data structures needed to support a specific VDE process will need 
to be dynamically loaded into the SPU 500 for the specific VDE 
process when the process is invoked. The operating system within 
SPU 500 then may page in the necessary VDE items to perform 
the process. The amount of RAM 534 within SPU 500 will directly 
determine how large any single VDE load module plus its required 
data can be, as well as the number of page swaps that will be 
necessary to run a VDE process. The SPU I/O speed, 
encryption/decryption speed, and the amount of internal memory 
532, 534 will directly affect the number of page swaps required in 
the device. Insecure external memory may reduce the wait time 


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for swapped pages to be loaded into SPU 500, but will still incur 
substantial encryption/decryption penalty for e? rh page. 

In order to maintain security, SPE 503 must encrypt and 
cryptographically seal each block being swapped out to a storage 
device external to a supporting SPU 500, and must similarly 
decrypt, verify the cryptographic seal for, and validate each block 
as it is swapped into SPU 500. Thus, the data movement and 
encryption/decryption overhead for each swap block has a very 
large impact on SPE performance. 

The performance of an SPU microprocessor 520 may not 
significantly impact the performance of the SPE 503 it supports if 
the processor is not responsible for moving data through the 
encrypt/decrypt engine 522. 

VDE Secure Database 610 

VDE 100 stores separately deliverable VDE elements in a 
secure (e.g., encrypted) database 610 distributed to each VDE 
electronic appliance 610. The database 610 in the preferred 
embodiment may store and/or manage three basic classes of VDE 
items: 

VDE objects, 

VDE process elements, and 
VDE data structures. 


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The following table lists examples of some of the VDE items 
stored in or managed by information stored in secure database 
610: 


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Class 

Brief Description 

Objects 

Content Objects 

Provide a container for content. 

Administrative 
Objects 

Provide a container for information 

Traveling Objects 

Provide a container for content and 

pnnf*Tnl lnfoTmatrinn 

Smart Obipcts 

Provide a container for (user- 
specified) processes and data. 

Process 
Elements 

Method Cores 

Provide a mechanism to relate 
events to control mechanisms and 
permissions. 

Load Modules 
TLMs a ) 

Secure (tamper-resistant) executable 
code. 

Method Data 

Elements 

CMDEs") 

Independently deliverable data 
structures used to control/customize 
methods. 

Data 

Structures 

Permissions 
Records ("PERCs") 

Permissions to use objects; 
"blueprints" to build component 
assemblies. 

User Data 

Elements 

CUDEs") 

Basic data structure for storing 
information used in conjunction with 
load modules. 

Administrative 
Data Structures 

Used by VDE node to maintain 
administrative information. 


Each electronic appliance 600 may have an instance of a 
10 secure database 610 that securely maintains the VDE items. 

Figure 16 shows one example of a secure database 610. The 


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secure database 610 shown in this example includes the following 
VDE-protected items: 

one or more PERCs 808; 

• methods 1000 (including static and dynamic method 
5 "cores" 1000, and MDEs 1202); 

Static UDEs 1200a and Dynamic UDEs 1200b; and 

• load modules 1100. 

Secure database 610 may also include the following 
10 additional data structures vised and maintained for administrative 

purposes: 

• an "object registry" 450 that references an object 
storage 728 containing one or more VDE objects; 

• name service records 452; and 

15 • configuration records 454 (including site configuration 

records 456 and user configuration records 458). 

Secure database 610 in the preferred embodiment does not 
include VDE objects 300, but rather references VDE objects stored, 
20 for example, on file system 687 and/or in a separate object 

repository 728. Nevertheless, an appropriate "starting point" for 
understanding VDE-protected information may be a discussion of 
VDE objects 300. 


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VDE Objects 300 

VDE 100 provides a media independent container model for 
encapsulating content. Figure 17 shows an example of a "logical" 
structure or format 800 for an object 300 provided by the preferred 
embodiment. 

The generalized "logical object" structure 800 shown in 
Figure 17 used by the preferred embodiment supports digital 
content delivery over any currently used media. "Logical object" in 
the preferred embodiment may refer collectively to: content; 
computer software and/or methods used to manipulate, record, 
and/or otherwise control use of said content; and permissions, 
limitations, administrative control information and/or 
requirements applicable to said content, and/or said computer 
software and/or methods. Logical objects may or may not be 
stored, and may or may not be present in, or accessible to, any 
given electronic appliance 600. The content portion of a logical 
object may be organized as information contained in, not contained 
in, or partially contained in one or more objects. 

Briefly, the Figure 17 "logical object" structure 800 in the 
preferred embodiment includes a public header 802, private header 
804, a "private body** 806 containing one or more methods 1000, 
permissions record(s) (PERC) 808 (which may include one or more 
key blocks 810), and one or more data blocks or areas 812. These 
elements may be "packaged" within a "container" 302. This 


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generalized, logical object structure 800 is used in the preferred 
embodiment for different types of VDE objects 300 categorized by 
the type and location of their content. 

The "container" concept is a convenient metaphor used to 
give a name to the collection of elements required to make use of 
content or to perform an administrative-type activity. Container 
302 typically includes identifying information, control structures 
and content (e.g., a property or administrative data). The term 
"container" is often (e.g., Bento/OpenDoc and OLE) used to 
describe a collection of information stored on a computer system's 
secondary storage system(s) or accessible to a computer system 
over a communications network on a "server's" secondary storage 
system. The "container" 302 provided by the preferred embodiment 
is not so limited or restricted. In VDE 100, there is no 
requirement that this information is stored together, received at 
the same time, updated at the same time, used for only a single 
object, or be owned by the same entity. Rather, in VDE 100 the 
container concept is extended and generalized to include real-time 
content and/or online interactive content passed to an electronic 
appliance over a cable, by broadcast, or communicated by other 
electronic communication means. 

Thus, the "complete" VDE container 302 or logical object 
structure 800 may not exist at the user's location (or any other 
location, for that matter) at any one time. The "logical object" may 


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exist over a particular period of time (or periods of time), rather 
than all at once. This concept includes the notion of a "virtual 
container" where important container elements may exist either as 
a plurality of locations and/or over a sequence of time periods 
(which may or may not overlap). Of course, VDE 100 containers 
can also be stored with all required control structures and content 
together. This represents a continuum: from all content and 
control structures present in a single container, to no locally 
accessible content or container specific control structures. 

Although at least some of the data representing the object is 
typically encrypted and thus its structure is not discernible, within 
a PPE 650 the object may be viewed logically as a "container" 302 
because its structure and components are automatically and 
transparently decrypted. 

A container model merges well with the event-driven 
processes and ROS 602 provided by the preferred embodiment. 
Under this model, content is easily subdivided into small, easily 
manageable pieces, but is stored so that it maintains the 
structural richness inherent in unencrypted content. An object 
oriented container model (such as Bento/OpenDoc or OLE) also 
provides many of the necessary "hooks" for inserting the necessary 
operating system integration components, and for defining the 
various content specific methods. 


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• 


9 


In more detail, the logical object structure 800 provided by 
the preferred embodiment includes a public (or unencrypted) 
header 802 that identifies the object and may also identify one or 
more owners of rights in the object and/or one or more distributors 
of the object. Private (or encrypted) header 804 may include a 
part or all of the information in the public header and further, in 
the preferred embodiment, will include additional data for 
validating and identifying the object 300 when a user attempts to 
register as a user of the object with a service clearinghouse, VDE 
administrator, or an SPU 500. Alternatively, information 
identifying one or more rights owners and/or distributors of the 
object may be located in encrypted form within encrypted header 
804, along with any of said additional validating and identifying 
data. 

Each logical object structure 800 may also include a "private 
body" 806 containing or referencing a set of methods 1000 (i.e., 
programs or procedures) that control use and distribution of the 
object 300. The ability to optionally incorporate different methods 
1000 with each object is important to making VDE 100 highly 
configurable. Methods 1000 perform the basic function of defining 
what users (including, where appropriate, distributors, client 
administrators, etc.), can and cannot do with an object 300. Thus, 
one object 300 may come with relatively simple methods, such as 
allowing unlimited viewing within a fixed period of time for a fixed 
fee (such as the newsstand price of a newspaper for viewing the 


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newspaper for a period of one week after the paper's publication), 
while other objects may be controlled by much more complicated 
(e.g., billing and usage limitation) methods. 

Logical object structure 800 shown in Figure 17 may also 
include one or more PERCs 808. PERCs 808 govern the use of an 
object 300, specifying methods or combinations of methods that 
must be used to access or otherwise use the object or its contents. 
The permission records 808 for an object may include key block(s) 
810, which may store decryption keys for accessing the content of 
the encrypted content stored within the object 300. 

The content portion of the object is typically divided into 
portions called data blocks 812. Data blocks 812 may contain any 
sort of electronic information, such as, "content," including 
computer programs, images, sound, VDE administrative 
information, etc. The size and number of data blocks 812 may be 
selected by the creator of the property. Data blocks 812 need not 
all be the same size (size may be influenced by content usage, 
database format, operating system, security and/or other 
considerations). Security will be enhanced by using at least one 
key block 810 for each data block 812 in the object, although this 
is not required. Key blocks 810 may also span portions of a 
plurality of data blocks 812 in a consistent or pseudo-random 
manner. The spanning may provide additional security by 
applying one or more keys to fragmented or seemingly random 


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pieces of content contained in an object 300, database, or other 
information entity. 

Many objects 300 that are distributed by physical media 
5 and/or by "out of channel" means (e.g., redistributed after receipt 

by a customer to another customer) might not include key blocks 
810 in the same object 300 that is used to transport the content 
protected by the key blocks. This is because VDE objects may 
contain data that can be electronically copied outside the confines 

10 of a VDE node. If the content is encrypted, the copies will also be 

encrypted and the copier cannot gain access to the content unless 
she has the appropriate decryption key(s). For objects in which 
maintaining security is particularly important, the permission 
records 808 and key blocks 810 will frequently be distributed 

15 electronically, using secure communications techniques (discussed 

below) that are controlled by the VDE nodes of the sender and 
receiver. As a result, permission records 808 and key blocks 810 
will frequently, in the preferred embodiment, be stored only on 
electronic appliances 600 of registered users (and may themselves 

20 be delivered to the user as part of a registration/initialization 

process). In this instance, permission records 808 and key blocks 
810 for each property can be encrypted with a private DES key 
that is stored only in the secure memory of an SPU 500, making 
the key blocks unusable on any other user's VDE node. 

25 Alternately, the key blocks 810 can be enciypted with the end 

user's public key, making those key blocks usable only to the SPU 


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500 that stores the corresponding private key (or other, acceptably 
secure, encryption/security techniques can be employed). 

In the preferred embodiment, the one or more keys used to 
encrypt each permission record 808 or other management 
information record will be changed every time the record is 
updated (or after a certain one or more events). In this event, the 
updated record is re-encrypted with new one or more keys. 
Alternately, one or more of the keys used to encrypt and decrypt 
management information may be "time aged" keys that 
automatically become invalid after a period of time. Combinations 
of time aged and other event triggered keys may also be desirable; 
for example keys may change after a certain number of accesses, 
and/or after a certain duration of time or absolute point in time. 
The techniques may also be used together for any given key or 
combination of keys. The preferred embodiment procedure for 
constructing time aged keys is a one-way convolution algorithm 
with input parameters including user and site information as well 
as a specified portion of the real time value provided by the SPU 
RTC 528. Other techniques for time aging may also be used, 
including for example techniques that use only user or site 
information, absolute points in time, and/or duration of time 
related to a subset of activities related to using or decrypting VDE 
secured content or the use of the VDE system. 


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VDE 100 supports many different types of "objects" 300 
having the logical object structure 800 shown in Figure 17. 
Objects may be classified in one sense based on whether the 
protection information is bound together with the protected 
information. For example, a container that is bound by its 
control(s) to a specific VDE node is called a "stationary object" (see 
Figure 18). A container that is not bound by its control 
information to a specific VDE node but rather carries sufficient 
control and permissions to permit its use, in whole or in part, at 
any of several sites is called a Traveling Object" (see Figure 19). 

Objects may be classified in another sense based on the 
nature of the information they contain. A container with 
information content is called a "Content Object" (see Figure 20). A 
container that contains transaction information, audit trails, VDE 
structures, and/or other VDE control/administrative information is 
called an "Administrative Object" (see Figure 21). Some 
containers that contain executable code operating under VDE 
control (as opposed to being VDE control information) are called 
"Smart Objects." Smart Objects support user agents and provide 
control for their execution at remote sites. There are other 
categories of objects based upon the location, type and access 
mechanism associated with their content, that can include 
combinations of the types mentioned above. Some of these objects 
supported by VDE 100 are described below. Some or all of the 


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data blocks 812 shown in Figure 17 may include "embedded" 
content, administrative, stationary, traveling and/or other objects. 

1. Stationary Objects 

Figure 18 shows an example of a "Stationary Object" 
structure 850 provided by the preferred embodiment. "Stationary 
Object" structure 850 is intended to be used only at specific VDE 
electronic appliance/installations that have received explicit 
permissions to use one or more portions of the stationary object. 
Therefore, stationary object structure 850 does not contain a 
permissions record (PERC) 808; rather, this permissions record is 
supplied and/or delivered separately (e.g., at a different time, over 
a different path, and/or by a different party) to the 
appliance/installation 600. A common PERC 808 may be used 
with many different stationary objects. 

As shown in Figure 18, public header 802 is preferably 
"plaintext" (i.e., unencrypted). Private header 804 is preferably 
encrypted using at least one of many "private header keys." 
Private header 804 preferably also includes a copy of identification 
elements from public header 802, so that if the identification 
information in the plaintext public header is tampered with, the 
system can determine precisely what the tamperer attempted to 
alter. Methods 1000 may be contained in a section called the 
"private body" 806 in the form of object local methods, load 
modules, and/or user data elements. This private body (method) 


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section 806 is preferably encrypted using one or more private body 
keys contained in the separate permissions recc rd 808. The data 
blocks 812 contain content (information or administrative) that 
may be encrypted using one or more content keys also provided in 
5 permissions record 808. 

2. Traveling Objects 

Figure 19 shows an example of a "traveling object" structure 
860 provided by the preferred embodiment- Traveling objects are 
10 objects that cany with them sufficient information to enable at 

least some use of at least a portion of their content when they 
arrive at a VDE node. 

Traveling object structure 860 may be the same as 
15 stationary object structure 850 shown in Figure 18 except that the 

traveling object structure includes a permissions record (PERC) 
808 within private header 804. The inclusion of PERC 808 within 
traveling object structure 860 permits the traveling object to be 
used at any VDE electronic appliance/participant 600 (in 
20 accordance with the methods 1000 and the contained PERC 808). 

Traveling" objects are a class of VDE objects 300 that can 
specifically support "out of channel* 1 distribution. Therefore, they 
include key block(s) 810 and are transportable from one electronic 
25 appliance 600 to another. Traveling objects may come with a quite 

limited usage related budget so that a user may use, in whole or 


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part, content (such as a computer program, game, or database) and 
evah* > te whether to acquire a license or further license or 
purchase object content. Alternatively, traveling object PERCs 808 
may contain or reference budget records with, for example: 

(a) budget(s) reflecting previously purchased rights or 
credit for future licensing or purchasing and enabling 
at least one or more types of object content usage, 
and/or 

(b) budget(s) that employ (and may debit) available 
credit(s) stored on and managed by the local VDE 
node in order to enable object content use, and/or 

(c) budget(s) reflecting one or more maximum usage 
criteria before a report to a local VDE node (and, 
optionally, also a report to a clearinghouse) is required 
and which may be followed by a reset allowing further 
usage, and/or modification of one or more of the 
original one or more budget(s). 

As with standard VDE objects 300, a user may be required 
to contact a clearinghouse service to acquire additional budgets if 
the user wishes to continue to use the traveling object after the 
exhaustion of an available budget(s) or if the traveling object (or a 
copy thereof) is moved to a different electronic appliance and the 
new appliance does not have a available credit budget(s) that 


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corresponds to the requirements stipulated by permissions record 
808. 

For example, a traveling object PERC 808 may include a 
reference to a required budget VDE 1200 or budget options that 
may be found and/or are expected to be available. For example, 
the budget VDE may reference a consumer's VISA, MC, AMEX, or 
other "generic" budget that may be object independent and may be 
applied towards the use of a certain or classes of traveling object 
content (for example any movie object from a class of traveling 
objects that might be Blockbuster Video rentals). The budget VDE 
itself may stipulate one or more classes of objects it may be used 
with, while an object may specifically reference a certain one or 
more generic budgets. Under such circumstances, VDE providers 
will typically make information available in such a manner as to 
allow correct referencing and to enable billing handling and 
resulting payments. 

Traveling objects can be used at a receiving VDE node 
electronic appliance 600 so long as either the appliance carries the 
correct budget or budget type (e.g. sufficient credit available from 
a clearinghouse such as a VISA budget) either in general or for 
specific one or more users or user classes, or so long as the 
traveling object itself carries with it sufficient budget allowance or 
an appropriate authorization (e.g., a stipulation that the traveling 
object may be used on certain one or more installations or 


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installation classes or users or user classes where classes 
correspond to a specific subset of installations or users who are 
represented by a predefined class identifiers stored in a secure 
database 610), After receiving a traveling object, if the user 
5 (and/or installation) doesn't have the appropriate budget(s) and/or 

authorizations, then the user could be informed by the electronic 
appliance 600 (using information stored in the traveling object) as 
to which one or more parties the user could contact. The party or 
parties might constitute a list of alternative clearinghouse 
10 providers for the traveling object from which the user selects his 

desired contact). 


As mentioned above, traveling objects enable objects 300 to 
be distributed *Out-Of-Channel; a that is, the object may be 

15 distributed by an unauthorized or not explicitly authorized 

individual to another individual. "Out of channel" includes paths 
of distribution that allow, for example, a user to directly 
redistribute an object to another individual. For example, an 
object provider might allow users to redistribute copies of an object 

20 to their friends and associates (for example by physical delivery of 

storage media or by delivery over a computer network) such that if 
a friend or associate satisfies any certain criteria required for use 
of said object, he may do so. 

25 For example, if a software program was distributed as a 

traveling object, a user of the program who wished to supply it or 


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a usable copy of it to a friend would normally be free to do so. 
Traveling Objects have great potential commercial significance, 
since useful content could be primarily distributed by users and 
through bulletin boards, which would require little or no 
5 distribution overhead apart from registration with the "original" 

content provider and/or clearinghouse. 

The "out of channel" distribution may also allow the 
provider to receive payment for usage and/or elsewise maintain at 
10 least a degree of control over the redistributed object. Such 

certain criteria might involve, for example, the registered presence 
at a user's VDE node of an authorized third party financial 
relationship, such as a credit card, along with sufficient available 
credit for said usage. 

15 

Thus, if the user had a VDE node, the user might be able to 
use the traveling object if he had an appropriate, available budget 
available on his VDE node (and if necessary, allocated to him), 
and/or if he or his VDE node belonged to a specially authorized 
20 group of users or installations and/or if the traveling object carried 

its own budget(s). 

Since the content of the traveling object is encrypted, it can 
be used only under authorized circumstances unless the traveling 
25 object private header key used with the object is broken— a 

potentially easier task with a traveling object as compared to, for 


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example, permissions and/or budget information since many 
objects may share the saiu j key, giving a cryptoanalyst both more 
information in cyphertext to analyze and a greater incentive to 
perform cryptoanalysis. 

In the case of a "traveling object," content owners may 
distribute information with some or all of the key blocks 810 
included in the object 300 in which the content is encapsulated. 
Putting keys in distributed objects 300 increases the exposure to 
attempts to defeat security mechanisms by breaking or 
cryptoanalyzing the encryption algorithm with which the private 
header is protected (e.g., by determining the key for the header's 
encryption). This breaking of security would normally require 
considerable skill and time, but if broken, the algorithm and key 
could be published so as to allow large numbers of individuals who 
possess objects that are protected with the same key(s) and 
algorithm(s) to illegally use protected information. As a result, 
placing keys in distributed objects 300 may be limited to content 
that is either "time sensitive" (has reduced value after the passage 
of a certain period of time), or which is somewhat limited in value, 
or where the commercial value of placing keys in objects (for 
example convenience to end-users, lower cost of eliminating the 
telecommunication or other means for delivering keys and/or 
permissions information and/or the ability to supporting objects 
going w out-of-channeH exceeds the cost of vulnerability to 
sophisticated hackers. As mentioned elsewhere, the security of 


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keys may be improved by employing convolution techniques to 
avoid storing "true" keys in a traveling object, although in most 
cases using a shared secret provided to most or all VDE nodes by a 
VDE administrator as an input rather than site ID and/or time in 
order to allow objects to remain independent of these values. 

As shown in Figure 19 and discussed above, a traveling 
object contains a permissions record 808 that preferably provides 
at least some budget (one, the other, or both, in a general case). 
Permission records 808 can, as discussed above, contain a key 
block(s) 810 storing important key information. PERC 808 may 
also contain or refer to budgets containing potentially valuable 
quantities/values. Such budgets may be stored within a traveling 
object itself, or they may be delivered separately and protected by 
highly secure communications keys and administrative object keys 
and management database techniques. 

The methods 1000 contained by a traveling object will 
typically include an installation procedure for "self registering" the 
object using the permission records 808 in the object (e.g., a 
REGISTER method). This may be especially useful for objects 
that have time limited value, objects (or properties) for which the 
end user is either not charged or is charged only a nominal fee 
(e.g., objects for which advertisers and/or information publishers 
are charged based on the number of end users who actually access 
published information), and objects that require widely available 


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budgets and may particularly benefit from out-of-channel 
distribution (e.g., credit card derived budgets for objects containing 
properties such as movies, software programs, games, etc.). Such 
traveling objects may be supplied with or without contained 
budget UDEs. 

One use of traveling objects is the publishing of software, 
where the contained permission record(s) may allow potential 
customers to use the software in a demonstration mode, and 
possibly to use the full program features for a limited time before 
having to pay a license fee, or before having to pay more than an 
initial trial fee. For example, using a time based billing method 
and budget records with a small pre-installed time budget to allow 
full use of the program for a short period of time. Various control 
methods may be used to avoid misuse of object contents. For 
example, by setting the minimum registration interval for the 
traveling object to an appropriately large period of time (e.g., a 
month, or six months or a year), users are prevented from re-using 
the budget records in the same traveling object. 

Another method for controlling the use of traveling objects is 
to include time-aged keys in the permission records that are 
incorporated in the traveling object. This is useful generally for 
traveling objects to ensure that they will not be used beyond a 
certain date without re-registration, and is particularly useful for 
traveling objects that are electronically distributed by broadcast, 


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network, or telecommunications (including both one and two way 
cable), since the date and time of delivery of such traveling objects 
aging keys can be set to accurately correspond to the time the user 
came into possession of the object. 

Traveling objects can also be used to facilitate "moving" an 
object from one electronic appliance 600 to another. A user could 
move a traveling object, with its incorporated one or more 
permission records 808 from a desktop computer, for example, to 
his notebook computer. A traveling object might register its user 
within itself and thereafter only be useable by that one user. A 
traveling object might maintain separate budget information, one 
for the basic distribution budget record, and another for the 
"active" distribution budget record of the registered user. In this 
way, the object could be copied and passed to another potential 
user, and then could be a portable object for that user. 

Traveling objects can come in a container which contains 
other objects. For example, a traveling object container can 
include one or more content objects and one or more 
administrative objects for registering the content object(s) in an 
end user's object registry and/or for providing mechanisms for 
enforcing permissions and/or other security functions. Contained 
administrative object(s) may be used to install necessary 
permission records and/or budget information in the end user's 
electronic appliance. 


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Content Objecta 

Figure 20 shows an example of a VDE extent object 
structure 880. Generally, content objects 880 include or provide 
information content. This "content" may be any sort of electronic 
information. For example, content may include: computer 
software, movies, books, music, information databases, multimedia 
information, virtual reality information, machine instructions, 
computer data files, communications messages and/or signals, and 
other information, at least a portion of which is used and/or 
manipulated by one or more electronic appliances. VDE 100 can 
also be configured for authenticating, controlling, and/or auditing 
electronic commercial transactions and communications such as 
inter-bank transactions, electronic purchasing communications, 
and the transmission of, auditing of, and secure commercial 
archiving of, electronically signed contracts and other legal 
documents; the information used for these transactions may also 
be termed "content" As mentioned above, the content need not be 
physically stored within the object container but may instead be 
provided separately at a different time (e.g., a real time feed over 
a cable). 

Content object structure 880 in the particular example 
shown in Figure 20 is a type of stationary object because it does 
not include a PERC 808. In this example, content object structure 
880 includes, as at least part of its content 812, at least one 
embedded content object 882 as shown in Figure 5A. Content 


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10 


15 


20 


object structure 880 may also include an administrative object 870. 
Thus, objects provided by the preferred embodiment may include 
one or more "embedded" objects. 


Figure 21 shows an example of an administrative object 
structure 870 provided by the preferred embodiment. An 
"administrative object* 4 generally contains permissions, 
administrative control information, computer software and/or 
methods associated with the operation of VDE 100. 
Administrative objects may also or alternatively contain records of 
use, and/or other information used in, or related to, the operation 
of VDE 100. An administrative object may be distinguished from 
a content object by the absence of VDE protected "content" for 
release to an end user for example. Since objects may contain 
other objects, it is possible for a single object to contain one or 
more content containing objects and one or more administrative 
objects. Administrative objects may be used to transmit 
information between electronic appliances for update, usage 
reporting, billing and/or control purposes. They contain 
information that helps to administer VDE 100 and keep it 
operating properly. Administrative objects generally are sent 
between two VDE nodes, for example, a VDE clearinghouse 
service, distributor, or client administrator and an end user's 
electronic appliance 600. 


Administrative Object! 


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Administrative object structure 870 in this example includes 
a public header 802, private header 804 (including a "PFHC" 808) 
and a "private body" 806 containing methods 1000. 
Administrative object structure 870 in this particular example 
5 shown in Figure 20 is a type of traveling object because it contains 

a PERC 808, but the administrative object could exclude the PERC 
808 and be a stationary object. Rather than storing information 
content, administrative object structure 870 stores "administrative 
information content" 872. Administrative information content 872 
10 may, for example, comprise a number of records 872a, 872b, . . . 

872n each corresponding to a different "event." Each record 872a, 
872b, . . . 872n may include an "event" field 874, and may 
optionally include a parameter field 876 and/or a data field 878. 
These administrative content records 872 may be used by VDE 
15 100 to define events that may be processed during the course of 

transactions, e.g., an event designed to add a record to a secure 
database might include parameters 896 indicating how and where 
the record should be stored and data field 878 containing the 
record to be added. In another example, a collection of events may 
20 describe a financial transaction between the creators) of an 

administrative object and the recipient(s), such as a purchase, a 
purchase order, or an invoice. Each event record 872 may be a set 
of instructions to be executed by the end user's electronic 
appliance 600 to make an addition or modification to the end 
15 user's secure database 610, for example. Events can perform 

many basic management functions, for example: add an object to 


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10 


15 


20 


the object registry, including providing the associated user/group 
record(s), rights records, permission record and/or method records; 
delete audit records (by "rolling up- the audit trail information 
into, for example, a more condensed, e.g. summary form, or by 
actual deletion); add or update permissions records 808 for 
previously registered objects; add or update budget records; add or 
update user rights records; and add or update load modules. 

In the preferred embodiment, an administrative object may 
be sent, for example, by a distributor, client administrator, or, 
perhaps, a clearinghouse or other financial service provider, to an 
end user, or, alternatively, for example, by an object creator to a 
distributor or service clearinghouse. Administrative objects, for 
example, may increase or otherwise adjust budgets and/or 
permissions of the receiving VDE node to which the administrative 
object is being sent. Similarly, administrative objects containing 
audit information in the data area 878 of an event record 872 can 
be sent from end users to distributors, and/or clearinghouses 
and/or client administrators, who might themselves further 
transmit to object creators or to other participants in the object's 
chain of handling. 


25 


Methods 

Methods 1000 in the preferred embodiment support many of 
the operations that a user encounters in using objects and 
communicating with a distributor. They may also specify what 


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method fields are displayable to a user (e.g., use events, user 
request events, user response events, and user display events). 
Additionally, if distribution capabilities are supported in the 
method, then the method may support distribution activities, 
distributor communications with a user about a method, method 
modification, what method fields are displayable to a distributor, 
and any distribution database checks and record keeping (e.g., 
distribution events, distributor request events, and distributor 
response events). 

Given the generality of the existing method structure, and 
the diverse array of possibilities for assembling methods, a 
generalized structure may be used for establishing relationships 
between methods. Since methods 1000 may be independent of an 
object that requires them during any given session, it is not 
possible to define the relationships within the methods themselves. 
"Control methods" are used in the preferred embodiment to define 
relationships between methods. Control methods may be object 
specific, and may accommodate an individual object's requirements 
during each session. 

A control method of an object establishes relationships 
between other methods. These relationships are parameterized 
with explicit method identifiers when a record set reflecting 
desired method options for each required method is constructed 
during a registration process. 


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An "aggregate method" in the preferred embodiment 
represents a collection of methods that may be treated as a single 
unit. A collection of methods that are related to a specific 
property, for example, may be stored in an aggregate method. 
This type of aggregation is useful from an implementation point of 
view because it may reduce bookkeeping overhead and may 
improve overall database efficiency. In other cases, methods may 
be aggregated because they are logically coupled. For example, 
two budgets may be linked together because one of the budgets 
represents an overall limitation, and a second budget represents 
the current limitation available for use. This would arise if, for 
example, a large budget is released in small amounts over time. 

For example, an aggregate method that includes meter, 
billing and budget processes can be used instead of three separate 
methods. Such an aggregate method may reference a single "load 
module" 1100 that performs all of the functions of the three 
separate load modules and use only one user data element that 
contains meter, billing and budget data. Using an aggregate 
method instead of three separate methods may minimize overall 
memory requirements, database searches, decryptions, and the 
number of user data element writes back to a secure database 610. 
The disadvantage of using an aggregate method instead of three 
separate methods can be a loss of some flexibility on the part of a 
provider and user in that various functions may no longer be 
independently replaceable. 


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Figure 16 shows methods 1000 as being part of secure 
database 610. 

A "method" 1000 provided by the preferred embodiment is a 
collection of basic instructions and information related to the basic 
instructions, that provides context, data, requirements and/or 
relationships for use in performing, and/or preparing to perform, 
the basic instructions in relation to the operation of one or more 
electronic appliances 600. As shown in Figure 16, methods 1000 
in the preferred embodiment are represented in secure database 
610 by: 

method "cores" 1000'; 
Method Data Elements (MDEs) 1202; 
User Data Elements (UDEs) 1200; and 
• Data Description Elements (DTDs), 

Method "core" 1000' in the preferred embodiment may 
contain or reference one or more data elements such as MDEs 
1202 and UDEs 1200. In the preferred embodiment, MDEs 1202 
and UDEs 1200 may have the same general characteristics, the 
main difference between these two types of data elements being 
that a UDE is preferably tied to a particular method as well as a 
particular user or group of users, whereas an MDE may be tied to 
a particular method but may be user independent. These MDE 
and UDE data structures 1200, 1202 are used in the preferred 
embodiment to provide input data to methods 1000, to receive data 


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outputted by methods, or both. MDEs 1202 and UDEs 1200 may 
be delivered independently of method cores 1000' that reference 
them, or the data structures may be delivered as part of the 
method cores. For example, the method core 1000' in the 
preferred embodiment may contain one or more MDEs 1202 and/or 
UDEs 1200 (or portions thereof). Method core 1000' may, 
alternately or in addition, reference one or more MDE and/or UDE 
data structures that are delivered independently of method core(s) 
that reference them. 

Method cores 1000' in the preferred embodiment also 
reference one or more load modules" 1100. Load modules 1100 in 
the preferred embodiment comprise executable code, and may also 
include or reference one or more data structures called "data 
descriptor" ("DTD") information. This "data descriptor" 
information may, for example, provide data input information to 
the DTD interpreter 590. DTDs may enable load modules 1100 to 
access (e.g., read from and/or write to) the MDE and/or UDE data 
elements 1202, 1200. 

Method cores 1000* may also reference one or more DTD 
and/or MDE data structures that contain a textual description of 
their operations suitable for inclusion as part of an electronic 
contract. The references to the DTD and MDE data structures 
may occur in the private header of the method core 1000', or may 
be specified as part of the event table described below. 


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Figure 22 shows an example of a format for a method core 
1000' provided by the preferred embodiment. A method core 
1000' in the preferred embodiment contains a method event table 
1006 and a method local data area 1008. Method event table 1006 
lists "events." These "events" each reference load modules" 1100 
and/or PERCs 808 that control processing of an event. Associated 
with each event in the list is any static data necessary to 
parameterize the load module 1000 or permissions record 808, and 
reference(s) into method user data area 1008 that are needed to 
support that event. The data that parameterizes the load module 
1100 can be thought of, in part, as a specific function call to the 
load module, and the data elements corresponding to it may be 
thought of as the input and/or output data for that specific 
function call. 

Method cores 1000' can be specific to a single user, or they 
may be shared across a number of users (e.g., depending upon the 
uniqueness of the method core and/or the specific user data 
element). Specifically, each user/group may have its own UDE 
1200 and use a shared method core 1000'. This structure allows 
for lower database overhead than when associating an entire 
method core 1000' with a user/group. To enable a user to use a 
method, the user may be sent a method core 1000' specifying a 
UDE 1200. If that method core 1000' already exists in the site's 
secure database 610, only the UDE 1200 may need to be added. 


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Alternately, the method may create any required UDE 1200 at 
registration 

The Figure 22 example of a format for a method core 1000' 
5 provided by the preferred embodiment includes a public 

(unencrypted) header 802, a private (encrypted) header 804, 
method event table 1006, and a method local data area 1008. 

An example of a possible field layout for method core 1000' 
10 public header 802 is shown in the following table: 


Field Type 

Description 

Method ID 

Creator ID 

Site ID of creator of this method. 

Distributor ID 

Distributor of this method (e.g., 
last change). 

Type ID 

Constant, indicates method "type." 

Method ID 

Unique sequence number for this 
method. 

Version ID 

Version number of this method. 

Other 

classification 
information 

Class ID 

ID to support different method 
"classes." 

Type ID 

ID to support method type 
compatible searching. 

Descriptive 
Information 

Description(s) 

Textual description^ ) of the 
method. 


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Event Summary 


Summary of event classes (e.g., 
USE) that this method supports. 


An example of a possible field layout for private header 804 
5 is shown below: 


Field Type 

Description 

Copy of Public Header 802 Method 
ID and "Other Classification 
Information" 

Method ID from Public Header 

Descriptive 
Information 

# of Events 

# of events supported in this 
method. 

Access and 
Reference Tags 

Access tag 

Tags used to determine if this 
method is the correct method 
under management by the SPU; 
ensure that the method core 
1000' is used only under 
appropriate circumstances. 

Validation tag 

Correlation tag 

Data Structure Reference 

Optional Reference to DTD(s) 
and/or MDE(s) 

Check Value 

Check value for Private Header 
and method event table. 

Check Value for Public Header 

Check Value for Public Header 


20 Referring once again to Figure 22, method event table 1006 

may in the preferred embodiment include from 1 to N method 
event records 1012. Each of these method event records 1012 


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corresponds to a different event the method 1000 represented by 
method core 1000' may ru pond to. Methods 1000 in the 
preferred embodiment may have completely different behavior 
depending upon the event they respond to. For example, an 
5 AUDIT method may store information in an audit trail UDE 1200 

in response to an event corresponding to a user's use of an object 
or other resource. This same AUDIT method may report the 
stored audit trail to a VDE administrator or other participant in 
response to an administrative event such as, for example, a timer 

10 expiring within a VDE node or a request from another VDE 

participant to report the audit trail. In the preferred embodiment, 
each of these different events may be represented by an "event 
code" This "event code" may be passed as a parameter to a 
method when the method is called, and used to "look up" the 

15 appropriate method event record 1012 within method event table 

1006. The selected method event record 1012, in turn, specifies 
the appropriate information (e.g., load module(s) 1100, data 
element UDE(s) and MDE(s) 1200, 1202, and/or PERC(s) 808) used 
to construct a component assembly 690 for execution in response 

20 to the event that has occurred. 

Thus, in the preferred embodiment, each method event 
record 1012 may include an event field 1014, a LM/PERC 
reference field 1016, and any number of data reference fields 1018. 
25 Event fields 1014 in the preferred embodiment may contain a 

"event code" or other information identifying the corresponding 


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event. The LM/PERC reference field 1016 may provide a reference 
into the secure database 610 (or other "pointer" information) 
identifying a load module 1100 and/or a PERC 808 providing (or 
referencing) executable code to be loaded and executed to perform 
the method in response to the event. Data reference fields 1018 
may include information referencing a UDE 1200 or a MDE 1202. 
These data structures may be contained in the method local data 
area 1008 of the method core 1000', or they may be stored within 
the secure database 610 as independent deliverables. 

The following table is an example of a possible more detailed 
field layout for a method event record 1012: 


Field Type 

Description 

Event Field 1014 

Identifies corresponding event. 

Access tag 

Secret tag to grant access to this 
row of the method event record. 

LM/PERC 
Reference 
Field 1016 

DB ID or 
offset/size 

Database reference (or local pointer). 

Correlation tag 

Correlation tag to assert when . 
referencing this element. 

# of Data Element Reference Fields 

Count of data reference fields in the 
method event record. 

Data 
Reference 
Field 1 

UDE ID or 
offset/size 

Database 610 reference (or local 
pointer). 

Correlation tag 

Correlation tag to assert when 
referencing this element. 


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Field Type 

Description 

• ■ • • 

Data 
Reference 
Field n 

UDE ID or 
offset/size 

Database 610 reference (or local 
pointer). 

Correlation tag 

Correlation tag to assert when 
referencing this element. 


Load Modules 

Figure 23 is an example of a load module 1100 provided by 
the preferred embodiment. In general, load modules 1100 
represent a collection of basic functions that are used for control 
operations. 

Load module 1100 contains code and static data (that is 
functionally the equivalent of code), and is used to perform the 
basic operations of VDE 100. Load modules 1100 will generally be 
shared by all the control structures for all objects in the system, 
though proprietary load modules are also permitted. Load 
modules 1100 may be passed between VDE participants in 
administrative object structures 870, and are usually stored in 
secure database 610. They are always encrypted and 
authenticated in both of these cases. When a method core 1000' 
references a load module 1100, a load module is loaded into the 
SPE 503, decrypted, and then either passed to the electronic 
appliance microprocessor for executing in an HPE 655 (if that is 


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where it executes), or kept in the SPE (if that is where it 
executes). If no SPE 503 is present, the load module may be 
decrypted by the HPE 655 prior to its execution. 

Load module creation by parties is preferably controlled by a 
certification process or a ring based SPU architecture. Thus, the 
process of creating new load modules 1100 is itself a controlled 
process, as is the process of replacing, updating or deleting load 
modules already stored in a secured database 610. 

A load module 1100 is able to perform its function only when 
executed in the protected environment of an SPE 503 or an HPE 
655 because only then can it gain access to the protected elements 
(e.g., UDEs 1200, other load modules 1100) on which it operates. 
Initiation of load module execution in this environment is strictly 
controlled by a combination of access tags, validation tags, 
encryption keys, digital signatures and/or correlation tags. Thus, a 
load module 1100 may only be referenced if the caller knows its ID 
and asserts the shared secret correlation tag specific to that load 
module. The decrypting SPU may match the identification token 
and local access tag of a load module after decryption. These 
techniques make the physical replacement of any load module 
1100 detectable at the next physical access of the load module. 
Furthermore, load modules 1100 may be made "read only" in the 
preferred embodiment. The read-only nature of load modules 1100 


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The following is an example of a possible field layout for 
load module public header 802: 


Field Type 

Description 



VDE ID of Load Module. 


Creator ID 

Site ID of creator of this load module. 


Type ID 

Constant indicates load module type. 


LM ID 

Unique sequence number for this load 
module, which uniquely identifies the 
load module in a sequence of load 
modules created by an authorized 
VDE participant. 


Version ID 

Version number of this load module. 

Other 

classification 

Class ID 

ID to support different load module 
classes. 

information 

Type ID 

ID to support method type compatible 
searching. 

Descriptive 
Information 

Description 

Textual description of the load 
module. 


Execution space 
code 

Value that describes what execution 
space (e.g M SPE or HPE) this load 
module. 


Many load modules 1100 contain code that executes in an 
SPE 503. Some load modules 1100 contain code that executes in 
15 an HPE 655. This allows methods 1000 to execute in whichever 


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prevents the write-back of load modules that have been tampered 
with in non-secure space. 

Load modules are not necessarily directly governed by 
PERCs 808 that control them, nor must they contain any 
time/date information or expiration dates. The only control 
consideration in the preferred embodiment is that one or more 
methods 1000 reference them using a correlation tag (the value of 
a protected object created by the load module's owner, distributed 
to authorized parties for inclusion in their methods, and to which 
access and use is controlled by one or more PERCs 808). If a 
method core 1000' references a load module 1100 and asserts the 
proper correlation tag (and the load module satisfies the internal 
tamper checks for the SPE 503), then that load module can be 
loaded and executed, or it can be acquired from, shipped to, 
updated, or deleted by, other systems. 

As shown in Figure 23, load modules 1100 in the preferred 
embodiment may be constructed of a public (unencrypted) header 
802, a private (encrypted) header 804, a private body 1106 
containing the encrypted executable code, and one or more data 
description elements ("DTDs") 1108. The DTDs 1108 may be 
stored within a load module 1100, or they may be references to 
static data elements stored in secure database 610. 


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# 


10 


15 


environment is appropriate. For example, an INFORMATION 
method 1000 can be built to execute only in SPE 503 secure space 
for government classes of security, or in an HPE 655 for 
commercial applications. As described above, the load module 
public header 802 may contain an "execution space code" field that 
indicates where the load module 1100 needs to execute. This 
functionality also allows for different SPE instruction sets as well 
as different user platforms, and allows methods to be constructed 
without dependencies on the underlying load module instruction 
set. 

Load modules 1100 operate on three major data areas: the 
stack, load module parameters, and data structures. The stack 
and execution memory size required to execute the load module 
1100 are preferably described in private header 804, as are the 
data descriptions from the stack image on load module call, return, 
and any return data areas. The stack and dynamic areas are 
described using the same DTD mechanism. The following is an 
example of a possible layout for a load module private header 


1104: 


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Field Type 

Description 

Copy of some or all of information from 
public header 802 

Object ID from Public Header. 

Other 

classification 
information 

Check Value 

Check Value for Public Header. 

D escn cti ve 
Information 

LM Size 

Size of executable code block. 

LM Exec Size 

Executable code size for the load module. 

LM Exec Stack 

Stack size required for the load module. 

Execution space 
code 

Code that describes the execution space for this 
load module. 

Access and 
reference tags 

Access tag 

Tags used to determine if the load module is 
the correct LM requested by the SPE. 

Validation tag 

Correlation tag 

Tag used to determine if the caller of the LM 
has the right to execute this LM. 

Digital Signature 

Used to determine if the LM executable content 
is intact and was created by a trusted source 
(one with a correct certificate for creating LMs). 

Data record 

descriptor 

information 

DTD count 

Number of DTDs that follow the code block. 

DTD 1 reference 

If locally defined, the physical size and offset in 
bytes of the first DTD defined for this LM. 

If publicly referenced DTD, this is the DTD ID 
and the correlation tag to permit access to the 
record. 

*** 

DTD N reference 

If locally defined, the physical size and offset in 
bytes of the Nth DTD defined for this LM. 

If publicly referenced DTD, this is the DTD ID 
and the correlation tag to permit access to the 
record. 

Check Value 

Check Value for entire LM. 


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Each load module 1100 also may use DTD 1108 information 
to provide the information necessary to support building methods 
from a load module. This DTD information contains the definition 
expressed in a language such as SGML for the names and data 
types of all of the method data fields that the load module 
supports, and the acceptable ranges of values that can be placed in 
the fields. Other DTDs may describe the function of the load 
module 1100 in English for inclusion in an electronic contract, for 
example. 

The next section of load module 1100 is an encrypted 
executable body 1106 that contains one or more blocks of 
encrypted code. Load modules 1100 are preferably coded in the 
"native" instruction set of their execution environment for 
efficiency and compactness. SPU 500 and platform providers may 
provide versions of the standard load modules 1100 in order to 
make their products cooperate with the content in distribution 
mechanisms contemplated by VDE 100. The preferred 
embodiment creates and uses native mode load modules 1100 in 
lieu of an interpreted or "p-code" solution to optimize the 
performance of a limited resource SPU. However, when sufficient 
SPE (or HPE) resources exist and/or platforms have sufficient 
resources, these other implementation approaches may improve 
the cross platform utility of load module code. 


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The following is an example of a field layout for a load 
module DTD 1108: 


Field Type 

Description 

DTD ID 


Uses Object ID from Private Header. 


Creator ID 

Site ID of creator of this DTD. 


Type ID 

Constant. 


DTD ID 

Unique sequence number for this DTD. 


Version ID 

Version number of this DTD. 

uescnpwve 
Information 

DTD Size 

Size of DTD block. 

Access and 

Access tag 

Tags used to determine if the DTD is the correct 

reference tags 

Validation tag 

DTD requested by the SPE. 


Correlation tag 

Tag used to determine if the caller of this DTD 
has the right to use the DTD. 

DTD Body 

DTD Data Definition 1 


DTD Data Definition 2 


• 
• 
• 


DTD Data Definition N 


Check Value 

Check Value for entire DTD record. 


Some examples of how load modules 1100 may use DTDs 
1108 include: 

15 • Increment data element (defined by name in DTD3) 

value in data area DTD4 by value in DTD1 


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• Set data element (defined by name in DTD3) value in 
data area DTD4 to value in DTD3 

• Compute atomic element from event in DTD1 from 
table in DTD3 and return in DTD2 

• Compute atomic element from event in DTD1 from 
equation in DTD3 and return in DTD2 

• Create load module from load module creation 
template referenced in DTD3 

• Modify load module in DTD3 using content in DTD4 

• Destroy load module named in DTD3 

Commonly used load modules 1100 may be built into a SPU 
500 as space permits. VDE processes that use built-in load 
modules 1100 will have significantly better performance than 
processes that have to find, load and decrypt external load 
modules. The most useful load modules 1100 to build into a SPU 
might include scaler meters, fixed price billing, budgets and load 
modules for aggregate methods that perform these three processes. 

User Data Elements (UDEb) 1200 and Method Data Elements 
(MDEfl) 1202 

User Data Elements (UDEs) 1200 and Method Data 
Elements (MDEs) 1202 in the preferred embodiment store data. 
There are many types of UDEs 1200 and MDEs 1202 provided by 
the preferred embodiment. In the preferred embodiment, each of 
these different types of data structures shares a common overall 


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format including a common header definition and naming scheme. 
Other UDEs 1200 that share this common structure include "local 
name services records" (to be explained shortly) and account 
information for connecting to other VDE participants. These 
elements are not necessarily associated with an individual user, 
and may therefore be considered MDEs 1202. All UDEs 1200 and 
all MDEs 1202 provided by the preferred embodiment may, if 
desired, (as shown in Figure 16) be stored in a common physical 
table within secure database 610, and database access processes 
may commonly be used to access all of these different types of data 
structures. 

In the preferred embodiment, PERCs 808 and user rights 
table records are types of UDE 1200. There are many other types 
of UDEs 1200/MDEs 1202, including for example, meters, meter 
trails, budgets, budget trails, and audit trails. Different formats 
for these different types of UDEs/MDEs are defined, as described 
above, by SGML definitions contained within DTDs 1108. 
Methods 1000 use these DTDs to appropriately access 
UDEs/MDEs 1200, 1202. 

Secure database 610 stores two types of items: static and 
dynamic. Static data structures and other items are used for 
information that is essentially static information. This includes 
load modules 1100, PERCs 808, and many components of methods. 
These items are not updated frequently and contain expiration 


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dates that can be used to prevent "old" copies of the information 
from being substituted for newly received items. These items may 
be encrypted with a site specific secure database file key when 
they are stored in the secure database 610, and then decrypted 
using that key when they are loaded into the SPE. 

Dynamic items are used to support secure items that must 
be updated frequently. The UDEs 1200 of many methods must be 
updated and written out of the SPE 503 after each use. Meters 
and budgets are common examples of this. Expiration dates 
cannot be used effectively to prevent substitution of the previous 
copy of a budget UDE 1200. To secure these frequently updated 
items, a transaction tag is generated and included in the encrypted 
item each time that item is updated. A list of all VDE item IDs 
and the current transaction tag for each item is maintained as 
part of the secure database 610. 

Figure 24 shows an example of a user data element ("UDE") 
1200 provided by the preferred embodiment. As shown in Figure 
24, UDE 1200 in the preferred embodiment includes a public 
header 802, a private header 804, and a data area 1206. The 
layout for each of these user data elements 1200 is generally 
defined by an SGML data definition contained within a DTD 1108 
associated with one or more load modules 1100 that operate on the 
UDE 1200. 


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UDEs 1200 are preferably encrypted using a site specific key 
once they are loaded into a site. This site-specific key masks a 
validation tag that may be derived from a ciyptographically strong 
pseudo-random sequence by the SPE 503 and updated each time 
the record is written back to the secure database 610. This 
technique provides reasonable assurance that the UDE 1200 has 
not been tampered with nor substituted when it is requested by 
the system for the next use. 

Meters and budgets are perhaps among the most common 
data structures in VDE 100. They are used to count and record 
events, and also to limit events. The data structures for each 
meter and budget are determined by the content provider or a 
distributor/redistributor authorized to change the information. 
Meters and budgets, however, generally have common information 
stored in a common header format (e.g., user ID, site ID and 
related identification information). 


The content provider or distributor/redistributor may specify 
data structures for each meter and budget UDE. Although these 
data structures vary depending upon the particular application, 
some are more common than others. The following table lists 
some of the more commonly occurring data structures for METER 
and BUDGET methods: 


Field type 


Format 


Typical Use 


Description or Use 


-364 


(0061603.01) 


Ascending Use 
counter 

byte, short, long, 
or unsigned 
versions of the 
same widths 

Meter/Budget 

Ascending count of uses. 

Descending Use 
Counter 

byte, short, long, 
or unsigned 
versions of the 

aamp widths 

Budget 

Descending count of 
permitted use; eg., 
remaining budget. 

Counter/Limit 

0 A or 8 hvte 
integer split into 
two related bytes 
or words 

Meter/Budget 

usage limits since a specific 
time; generally used in 
compound meter data 
structures. 

Bitmap 

Array bytes 

Meter/Budget 

Bit indicator of use or 
ownersmp. 

Wide bitmap 

Array of bytes 

Meter/Budget 

Indicator of use or 
ownersmp tnai may age 
with time. 

Last Use Date 

time_t 

Meter/Budget 

Date of last use. 

Start Date 

time t 

Budget 

Date of first allowable use. 

Expiration Date 

time_t 

Meter/Budget 

Expiration Date. 

Last Audit Date 

time_t 

Meter/Budget 

Date of last audit. 

Next Audit Date 

tdme_t 

Meter/Budget 

Date of next required 
audit. 

Auditor 

VDE ID 

Meter/Budget 

VDE ID of authorized 
auditor. 


The information in the table above is not complete or 
comprehensive, but rather is intended to show some examples of 
types of information that may be stored in meter and budget 
related data structures. The actual structure of particular meters 
and budgets is determined by one or more DTDs 1108 associated 
with the load modules 1100 that create and manipulate the data 


-365- 


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structure. A list of data types permitted by the DTD interpreter 
590 in VDE 100 is extensible by properly authorized parues. 



-366- (0061603.01) 


Figure 25 shows an example of one particularly 
advantageous kind of UDE 1200 data area 1206. This data area 
1206 defines a "map" that may be used to record usage 
information. For example, a meter method 1000 may maintain 
one or more "usage map" data areas 1206. The usage map may be 
a "usage bit map" in the sense that it stores one or more bits of 
information (i.e., a single or multi-dimensional bit image) 
corresponding to each of several types or categories of usage. 
Usage maps are an efficient means for referencing prior usage. 
For example, a usage map data area may be used by a meter 
method 1000 to record all applicable portions of information 
content that the user has paid to use, thus supporting a very 
efficient and flexible means for allowing subsequent user usage of 
the same portions of the information content. This may enable 
certain VDE related security functions such as "contiguousness," 
"logical relatedness," randomization of usage, and other usage 
types. Usage maps may be analyzed for other usage patterns (e.g., 
quantity discounting, or for enabling a user to reaccess information 
content for which the user previously paid for unlimited usage). 

The "usage map" concept provided by the preferred 
embodiment may be tied to the concept of "atomic elements." In 
the preferred embodiment, usage of an object 300 may be metered 
in terms of "atomic elements." In the preferred embodiment, an 
"atomic element" in the metering context defines a unit of usage 
that is "sufficiently significant" to be recorded in a meter. The 
definition of what constitutes an "atomic element" is determined 
by the creator of an object 300. For instance, a "byte" of 
information content contained in an object 300 could be defined as 


(0064091.01) 


an "atomic element," or a record of a database could be denned as 
an "atomic element," or each chapter of an electronically published 
book could be defined as an "atomic element." 

An object 300 can have multiple sets of overlapping atomic 
elements. For example, an access to any database in a plurality of 
databases may be defined as an "atomic element." 
Simultaneously, an access to any record, field of records, sectors of 
informations, and/or bytes contained in any of the plurality of 
databases might also be defined as an "atomic element." In an 
electronically published newspaper, each hundred words of an 
article could be denned as an "atomic element," while articles of 
more than a certain length could be defined as another set of 
"atomic elements." Some portions of a newspaper (e.g., 
advertisements, the classified section, etc.) might not be mapped 
into an atomic element. 

The preferred embodiment provides an essentially 
unbounded ability for the object creator to define atomic element 
types. Such atomic element definitions may be very flexible to 
accommodate a wide variety of different content usage. Some 
examples of atomic element types supported by the preferred 
embodiment include bytes, records, files, sectors, objects, a 
quantity of bytes, contiguous or relatively contiguous bytes (or 
other predefined unit types), logically related bytes containing 
content that has some logical relationship by topic, location or 
other user specifiable logic of relationship, etc. Content creators 
preferably may flexibly define other types of atomic elements. 


(0064091.01) 


The preferred embodiment of the present invention provides 
EVENT methods to provide a mapping between usage events and 
atomic elements. Generally, there may be an EVENT method for 
each different set of atomic elements defined for an object 300. In 
many cases, an object 300 will have at least one type of atomic 
element for metering relating to billing, and at least one other 
atomic element type for non-billing related metering (e.g., used to, 
for example, detect fraud, bill advertisers, and/or collect data on 
end user usage activities). 

In the preferred embodiment, each EVENT method in a 
usage related context performs two functions: (1) it maps an 
accessed event into a set of zero or more atomic elements, and (2) 
it provides information to one or more METER methods for 
metering object usage. The definition used to define this mapping 
between access events and atomic elements may be in the form of 
a mathematical definition, a table, a load module, etc. When an 
EVENT method maps an access request into "zero" atomic 
elements, a user accessed event is not mapped into any atomic 
element based on the particular atomic element definition that 
applies. This can be, for example, the object owner is not 
interested in metering usage based on such accesses (e.g., because 
the object owner deems such accesses to be insignificant from a 
metering standpoint). 

A "usage map" may employ a "bit map image* for storage of 
usage history information in a highly efficient manner. Individual 
storage elements in a usage map may correspond to atomic 
elements. Different elements within a usage map may correspond 
to different atomic elements (e.g., one map element may 


369 


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correspond to number of bytes read, another map element may 
correspond to whether or not a particular chapter was opened, and 
yet another map element may correspond to some other usage 
event). 

One of the characteristics of a usage map provided by the 
preferred embodiment of the present invention is that the 
significance of a map element is specified, at least in part, by the 
position of the element within the usage map. Thus, in a usage 
map provided by the preferred embodiment, the information 
indicated or encoded by a map element is a function of its position 
(either physically or logically) within the map structure. As one 
simple example, a usage map for a twelve-chapter novel could 
consist of twelve elements, one for each chapter of the novel. 
When the user opens the first chapter, one or more bits within the 
element corresponding to the first chapter could be changed in 
value (e.g., set to "one"). In this simple example where the owner 
of the content object containing the novel was interested only in 
metering which chapters had been opened by the user, the usage 
map element corresponding to a chapter could be set to "one" the 
first time the user opened that corresponding chapter, and could 
remain "one" no matter how many additional times the user 
opened the chapter. The object owner or other interested VDE 
participant would be able to rapidly and efficiently tell which 
chapters) had been opened by the user simply by examining the 
compact usage map to determine which elements were set to "one." 

Suppose that the content object owner wanted to know how 
many times the user had opened each chapter of the novel. In this 
case, the usage map might comprise, for a twelve-chapter novel, 


370 


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twelve elements each of which has a one-to-one correspondence 
with a different one of the twelve chapters of the novel. Each time 
a user opens a particular chapter, the corresponding METER 
method might increment the value contained in the corresponding 
usage map element. In this way, an account could be readily 
maintained for each of the chapters of the novel. 

The position of elements within a usage map may encode a 
multi-variable function. For example, the elements within a usage 
map may be arranged in a two-dimensional array as shown in 
Figure 25B. Different array coordinates could correspond to 
independent variables such as, for example, atomic elements and 
time. Suppose, as an example, that a content object owner 
distributes an object containing a collection of audio recordings. 
Assume further that the content object owner wants to track the 
number of times the user listens to each recording within the 
collection, and also wants to track usage based on month of the 
year. Thus, assume that the content object owner wishes to know 
how many times the user during the month of January listened to 
each of the recordings on a recording-by-recording basis, similarly 
wants to know this same information for the month of February, 
March, etc. In this case, the usage map (see Figure 25B) might be 
defined as a two-dimensional array of elements. One dimension of 
the array might encode audio recording number. The other 
dimension of the array might encode month of the year. During 
the month of January, the corresponding METER method would 
increment elements in the array in the "January- column of the 
array, selecting which element to increment as a function of 
recording number. When January comes to an end, the METER 
method might cease writing into the array elements in the 


(0064091.01) 


January column, and instead write values into a further set of 
February array elements — once again selecting the particular 
array element in this column as a function of recording number. 
This concept may be extended to N dimensions encoding N 
different variables. 

Usage map meters are thus an efficient means for 
referencing prior usage. They may be used to enable certain VDE 
related security functions such as testing for contiguousness 
(including relative contiguousness), logical relatedness (including 
relative logical relatedness), usage randomization, and other usage 
patterns. For example, the degree or character of the 
"randomness" of content usage by a user might serve as a 
potential indicator of attempts to circumvent VDE content budget 
limitations. A user or groups of users might employ multiple 
sessions to extract content in a manner which does not violate 
contiguousness, logical relatedness or quantity limitations, but 
which nevertheless enables reconstruction of a material portion or 
all of a given, valuable unit of content. Usage maps can be 
analyzed to determine other patterns of usage for pricing such as, 
for example, quantity discounting after usage of a certain quantity 
of any or certain atomic units, or for enabling a user to reaccess an 
object for which the user previously paid for unlimited accesses (or 
unlimited accesses over a certain time duration). Other useful 
analyses might include discounting for a given atomic unit for a 
plurality of uses. 

A further example of a map meter includes storing a record 
of all applicable atomic elements that the user has paid to use (or 
alternatively, has been metered as having used, though payment 


may not yet have been required or made). Such a usage map 
would support a very efficient and flexible way to allow 
subsequent user usage of the same atomic elements. 

A further usage map could be maintained to detect 
fraudulent usage of the same object. For example, the object 
might be stored in such a way that sequential access of long blocks 
should never occur. A METER method could then record all 
applicable atomic elements accesses during, for example, any 
specified increment of time, such as ten minutes, an hour, a day, a 
month, a year, or other time duration). The usage map could be 
analyzed at the end of the specified time increment to check for an 
excessively long contiguous set of accessed blocks, and/or could be 
analyzed at the initiation of each access to applicable atomic 
elements. After each time duration based analysis, if no 
fraudulent use is detected, the usage map could be cleared (or 
partially cleared) and the mapping process could begin in whole or 
in part anew. If a fraudulent use pattern is suspected or detected, 
that information might be recorded and the use of the object could 
be halted. For example, the user might be required to contact a 
content provider who might then further analyze the usage 
information to determine whether or not further access should be 
permitted. 

Figure 25c shows a particular type of "wide bit map" usage 
record 1206 wherein each entry in the usage record corresponds to 
usage during a particular time period (e.g., current month usage, 
last month's usage, usage in the month before last, etc.). The 
usage record shown thus comprises an array of "flags" or fields 
1206, each element in the array being used to indicate usage in a 


(0064091.01) 


different time period in this particular example. When a time 
period ends, all elements 1206 in the array may be shifted one 
position, and thus usage information (or the purchase of user 
access rights) over a series of time periods can be reflected by a 
series of successive array elements. In the specific example shown 
in Figure 25c, the entire wide array 1206 is shifted by one array 
position each month, with the oldest array element being deleted 
and the new array element being "turned" in a new array map 
corresponding to the current time period. In this example, record 
1302 tracks usage access rights and/or other usage related 
activities during the present calendar month as well for the five 
immediately prior calendar months. Corresponding billing and/or 
billing method 406 may inspect the map, determine usage as 
related to billing and/or security monitoring for current usage 
based on a formula that employs the usage data stored in the 
record, and updates the wide record to indicate the applicable 
array elements for which usage occurred or the like. A wide bit 
map may also be used for many other purposes such as 
maintaining an element by element count of usage, or the 
contiguousness, relatedness, etc. function described above, or some 
combination of functionality. 

Audit trail maps may be generated at any frequency 
determined by control, meter, budget and billing methods and load 
modules associated with those methods. Audit trails have a 
similar structure to meters and budgets and they may contain user 
specific information in addition to information about the usage 
event that caused them to be created. Like meters and budgets, 
audit trails have a dynamic format that is defined by the content 
provider or their authorized designee, and share the basic element 


(0064091.01) 


types for meters and budgets shown in the table above. In 
addition to these types, the following table lists some examples of 
other significant data fields that may be found in audit trails: 


Field type 

Format 

TVoical Use 

Deserintion of* TTao 

Use Event ID 

unsigned long 

Meter/Budget/ 
Billing 

Event ID that started a 
l^«v^>cBaiiig sequence. 

Internal 

Sequence 

Number 

unsigned long 

Meter/Budget/ 
Billing 

Transaction number to help 
detect audits that have been 
tampered with. 

Atomic 
Element(s) 
& Object ID 

Unsigned 
integers) of 
appropriate 
width 

Meter/Billing 

Atomic element(s) and ID of 
object that was used. 

Personal User 
Information 

Character or 
other 

information 

Budget/Billing 

Personal information about user. 

Use 

Date/Time 

time_t 

Meter/Budget/ 
Billing 

Date/time of use. 

Site ID/User 
ID 

VDE ID 

Meter/Budget/ 
Billing 

VDE ID of user. 


Audit trail records may be automatically combined into 
single records to conserve header space. The combination process 
may, for example, occur under control of a load module that 
creates individual audit trail records. 

Permissions Record Overview 

Figure 16 also shows that PERCs 808 may be stored as part 
of secure database 610. Permissions records ("PERCs") 808 are at 
the highest level of the data driven control hierarchy provided by 
the preferred embodiment of VDE 100. Basically, there is at least 
one PERC 808 that corresponds to each information and/or 


375 


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transactional content distributed by VDE 100. Thus, at least one 
PERC 808 exists for each VDE object 300 in the preferred 
embodiment. Some objects may have multiple corresponding 
PERCs 808. PERC 808 controls how access and/or manipulation 
permissions are distributed and/or how content and/or other 
information may otherwise be used. PERC 808 also specifies the 
"rights" of each VDE participant in and to the content and/or other 
information. 

In the preferred embodiment, no end user may use or access 
a VDE object unless a permissions record 808 has been delivered 
to the end user. As discussed above, a PERC 808 may be 
delivered as part of a traveling object 860 or it may be delivered 
separately (for example, within an administrative object). An 
electronic appliance 600 may not access an object unless a 
corresponding PERC 808 is present, and may only use the object 
and related information as permitted by the control structures 
contained within the PERC. 

Briefly, the PERC 808 stores information concerning the 
methods, method options, decryption keys and rights with respect 
to a corresponding VDE object 300. 

PERC 808 includes control structures that define high level 
categories or classifications of operations. These high level 
categories are referred to as "rights." The "right" control 
structures, in turn, provide internal control structures that 
reference "methods" 1000. The internal structure of preferred 
embodiment PERC 808 organizes the "methods" that are required 
to perform each allowable operation on an object or associated 


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control structure (including operations performed on the PERC 
itself). For example, PERC 808 contains decryption keys for the 
object, and usage of the keys is controlled by the methods that are 
required by the PERC for performing operations associated with 
the exercise of a "right." 

PERC 808 for an object is typically created when the object 
is created, and future substantive modifications of a PERC, if 
allowed, are controlled by methods associated with operations 
using the distribution right(s) defined by the same (or different) 
PERC. 

Figure 22 shows the internal structures present in an 
example of a PERC 808 provided by the preferred embodiment. 
All of the structures shown represent (or reference) collections of 
methods required to process a corresponding object in some 
specific way. PERCs 808 are organized as a hierarchical structure, 
and the basic elements of the hierarchy are as follows: 
"rights" records 906 

"control sets" 914 

"required method" records 920 and 
"required method options" 924. 

There are other elements that may be included in a PERC 
808 hierarchy that describe rules and the rule options to support 
the negotiation of rule sets and control information for smart 
objects and for the protection of a user's personal information by a 
privacy filter. These alternate elements may include: 

optional rights records 

optional control sets 


377 


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optional method records 

permitted rights records 

permitted rights control sets 

permitted method records 

required DTD descriptions 

optional DTD descriptions 

permitted DTD descriptions 
These alternate fields can control other processes that may, in 
part, base negotiations or decisions regarding their operation on 
the contents of these fields. Rights negotiation, smart object 
control information, and related processes can use these fields for 
more precise control of their operation. 

The PERC 808 shown in Figure 26 includes a PERC header 
900, a CSO ("control set 0") 902, private body keys 904, and one or 
more rights sub-records 906. Control set 0 902 in the preferred 
embodiment contains information that is common to one or more 
"rights" associated with an object 300. For example, a particular 
"event" method or methods might be the same for usage rights, 
extraction rights and/or other rights. In that case, "control set 0" 
902 may reference this event that is common across multiple 
"rights." The provision of "control set 0" 902 is actually an 
optimization, since it would be possible to store different instances 
of a commonly-used event within each of plural "rights" records 
906 of a PERC 808. 


Each rights record 906 defines a different "right" 
corresponding to an object. A "right" record 906 is the highest 
level of organization present in PERC 808. There can be several 
different rights in a PERC 808. A "right" represents a major 


# 


factional partitioning desired by a participant of the basic 
architecture of VDE 100. For example, the right to use an object 
and the right to distribute rights to use an object are major 
functional groupings within VDE 100. Son,, examples of possible 
nghts include access to content, permission to distribute rights to 
access content, the ability to read and process audit trails related 
to content and/or control structures, the right to perform 
transactions that may or may not be related to content and/or 
related control structures (such as banking transactions, catalog 
purchases, the collection of taxes, EDI transactions, and such) and 
the ability to change some or all of the internal structure of 
PERCs created for distribution to other users. PERC 808 contains 
a nghts record 906 for each type of right to object access/use the 
PERC grants. 

Normally, for VDE end users, the most frequently granted 
right >s a usage right. Other types of rights include the 
"extraction right," the "audit right" for accessing audit trail 
■-formation of end users, and a "distribution right" to distribute an 
object. Each of these different types of rights may be embodied in 
a duTerent rights record 906 (or alternatively, different PERCs 808 
corresponding to an object may be used to grant different rights). 

Each rights record 906 includes a rights record header 908 
a CSE ("control set for right") 910, one or more "right keys" 912 ' 
and one or more "control sets" 914. Each "rights" record 906 
contaans one or more control sets 914 that are either required or 
selectable options to control an object in the exercise of that 
"nght " Thus, at the next level, inside of a "right" 906, are control 
sets 914. Control sets 914, in turn, each includes a control set 


379 


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header 916, a control method 918, and one or more required 
methods records 920. Required methods records 920, in turn, each 
includes a required method header 922 and one or more required 
metbM options 924. 

Control sets 914 exist in two types in VDE 100: common 
required control sets which are given designations "control set 0 a 
or "control set for right," and a set of control set options. "Control 
set 0" 902 contains a list of required methods that are common to 
all control set options, so that the common required methods do 
not have to be duplicated in each control set option. A "control set 
for right" ("CSR") 910 contains a similar list for control sets within 
a given right. "Control set 0 a and any "control sets for rights" are 
thus, as mentioned above, optimizations; the same functionality for 
the control sets can be accomplished by listing all the common 
required methods in each control set option and omitting "control 
set 0" and any "control sets for rights." 

One of the control set options, "control set 0" and the 
appropriate "control set for right" together form a complete control 
set necessary to exercise a right. 

Each control set option contains a list of required methods 
1000 and represents a different way the right may be exercised. 
Only one of the possible complete control sets 914 is used at any 
one time to exercise a right in the preferred embodiment. 

Each control set 914 contains as many required methods 
records 920 as necessary to satisfy all of the requirements of the 
creators and/or distributors for the exercise of a right. Multiple 


380 


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ways a right may be exercised, or multiple control sets that govern 
how a given right is exercised, are both supported. As an example, 
a single control set 914 might require multiple meter and budget 
methods for reading the object's content, and also requi a different 
meter and budget methods for printing an object's content. Both 
reading and printing an object's content can be controlled in a 
single control set 914. 

Alternatively, two different control set options could support 
reading an object's content by using one control set option to 
support metering and budgeting the number of bytes read, and the 
other control set option to support metering and budgeting the 
number of paragraphs read. One or the other of these options 
would be active at a time. 

Typically, each control set 914 will reference a set of related 
methods, and thus different control sets can offer a different set of 
method options. For example, one control set 914 may represent 
one distinct kind of metering methodology, and another control set 
may represent another, entirely different distinct metering 
methodology. 

At the next level inside a control set 914 are the required 
methods records 920. Methods records 920 contain or reference 
methods 1000 in the preferred embodiment. Methods 1000 are a 
collection of "events," references to load modules associated with 
these events, static data, and references to a secure database 610 
for automatic retrieval of any other separately deliverable data 
elements that may be required for processing events (e.g., UDEs). 
A control set 914 contains a list of required methods that must be 


381 


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used to exercise a specific right (i.e., process events associated with 
a right). A required method record 920 listed in a control set 914 
indicates that r method must exist to exercise the right that the 
control set supports. The required methods may reference "load 
modules" 1100 to be discussed below. Briefly, load modules 1100 
are pieces of executable code that may be used to carry out 
required methods. 

Each control set 914 may have a control method record 918 
as one of its required methods. The referenced control method 
may define the relationships between some or all of the various 
methods 1000 defined by a control set 906. For example, a control 
method may indicate which required methods are functionally 
grouped together to process particular events, and the order for 
processing the required methods. Thus, a control method may 
specify that required method referenced by record 920(a)(l)(i) is 
the first to be called and then its output is to go to required 
method referenced by record 920(a)(l)(ii) and so on. In this way, a 
meter method may be tied to one or more billing methods and then 
the billing methods may be individually tied to different budget 
methods, etc. 

Required method records 920 specify one or more required 
method options 924. Required method options are the lowest level 
of control structure in a preferred embodiment PERC 808. By 
parameterizing the required methods and specifying the required 
method options 924 independently of the required methods, it 
becomes possible to reuse required methods in many different 
circumstances. 


• 


# 


For example, a required method record 920 may indicate 
that an actual budget method ID must be chosen from the list of 
budget method IDs in the required method option list for that 
required method. Required method record 920 in this case does 
not contain any method IDs for information about the type of 
method required, it only indicates that a method is required. 
Required method option 924 contains the method ED of the method 
to be used if this required method option is selected. As a further 
optimization, an actual method ID may be stored if only one option 
exists for a specific required method. This allows the size of this 
data structure to be decreased. 

PERC 808 also contains the fundamental decryption keys for 
an object 300, and any other keys used with "rights" (for encoding 
and/or decoding audit trails, for example). It may contain the keys 
for the object content or keys to decrypt portions of the object that 
contain other keys that then can be used to decrypt the content of 
the object. Usage of the keys is controlled by the control sets 914 
in the same "right" 906 within PERC 808. 

In more detail, Figure 26 shows PERC 808 as including 
private body keys 904, and right keys 912. Private body keys 904 
are used to decrypt information contained within a private body 
806 of a corresponding VDE object 300. Such information may 
include, for example, methods 1000, load modules 1100 and/or 
UDEs 1200, for example. Right keys 912 are keys used to exercise 
a right in the preferred embodiment. Such right keys 912 may 
include, for example, decryption keys that enable a method 
specified by PERC 808 to decrypt content for release by a VDE 
node to an end user. These right keys 912 are, in the preferred 


383 


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embodiment, unique to an object 300. Their usage is preferably 
controlled by budgets in the preferred embodiment. 

Detailed Example of a PERC 808 

Figures 26A and 26B show one example of a preferred 
embodiment PERC 808. In this example, PERC header 900 
includes: 

a site record number 926, 

a field 928 specifying the length of the private body 
key block, 

a field 930 specifying the length of the PERC, 
an expiration date/time field 932 specifying the 

expiration date and/or time for the PERC, 
a last modification date/time field 934 specifying the 

last date and/or time the PERC 808 was 

modified, 

the original distributor ID field 936 that specifies who 
originally distributed the PERC and/or 
corresponding object, 
a last distributor field 938 that specifies who was the 

last distributor of the PERC and/or the object, 
an object ID field 940 identifying the corresponding' 

VDE object 300, 
a field 942 that specifies the class and/or type of 
PERC and/or the instance ID for the record 
class to differentiate the PERCs of the same 
type that may differ in their particulars, 
a field 944 specifying the number of "rights" sub- 
records 906 within the PERC, and 
a validation tag 948. 


384 


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The PERC 808 shown in Figures 26a, 26b also has private body 
keys stored in a private body key block 950. 

This PERC 808 includes a control set 0 sub-record 914 (0) 
that may be used commonly by all of rights 906 within the PERC 
This control set 0 record 914(0) may include the following fields: 


a length field 952 specifying the length of the control 
set 0 record 

a field 954 specifying the number of required method 

records 920 within the control set 
an access tag field 956 specifying an access tag to 

control modification of the record and 
one or more required method records 920. 


Each required method record 920, in turn may include: 


a length field 958 specifying the length of the required 

method record 
a field 960 specifying the number of method option 

records within the required method record 920 
an access tag field 962 specifying an access tag to 

control modification of the record and 
one or more method option records 924. 


Each method option sub-record 924 may include: 


a length field 964 specifying the length of the method 

option record 
a length field 966 specifying the length of the data 

area (if any) corresponding to the method option 

record 

a method ID field 968 specifying a method ID (e.g., 
type/owner/class/instance) 


385 


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a correlation tag field 970 specifying a correlation tag 
for correlating with the method specified in field 


968 


an access tag field 972 specifying an access tag to 

control modification of this record 
a method-specific attributes field 974 
a data area 976 and 

a check value field 978 for validation purposes 

In this example of PERC 808 also includes one or more 
rights records 906, and an overall check value field 980. Figure 
23b is an example of one of right records 906 shown in Figure 16a. 
In this particular example, rights record 906a includes a rights 
record header 908 comprising: 

a length field 982 specifying the length of the rights 

key block 912 
a length field 984 specifying the length of the rights 
record 908 

an expiration date/time field 986 specifying the 

expiration date and/or time for the rights record 

a right ID field 988 identifying a right 

a number field 990 specifying the number of control 
sets 914 within the rights record 906, and 

an access tag field 992 specifying an access tag to 
control modification of the right record. 

This example of rights record 906 includes: 
a control set for this right (CSR) 910 
a rights key block 912 
one or more control sets 914, and 


386 


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t 


a check value field 994. 

Object Registry 

Referring once again to Figure 16, secure database 610 
provides data structures that support a "lookup" mechanism for 
"registered" objects. This "lookup" mechanism permits electronic 
appliance 600 to associate, in a secure way, VDE objects 300 with 
PERCs 808, methods 1000 and load modules 1100. In the 
preferred embodiment, this lookup mechanism is based in part on 
data structures contained within object registry 450. 

In one embodiment, object registry 450 includes the 
following tables: 

• an object registration table 460; 

• a subject table 462; 

a User Rights Table ("URT") 464; 

• an Administrative Event Log 442; 

• a shipping table 444; and 

• a receiving table 446. 

Object registry 460 in the example embodiment is a 
database of information concerning registered VDE objects 300 
and the rights of users and user groups with regard to those 
objects. When electronic appliance 600 receives an object 300 
containing a new budget or load module 1100, the electronic 
appliance usually needs to add the information contained by the 
object to secure database 610. Moreover, when any new VDE 
object 300 arrives at an electronic appliance 600, the electronic 
appliance must "register" the object within object registry 450 so 
that it can be accessed. The lists and records for a new object 300 


387 


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* 


are built in the preferred embodiment when the object is 
"registered" by the electronic appliance 600. The information for 
the object may be obtained from the object's encrypted private 
header, object body, and encrypted name services record. This 
information may be extracted or derived from the object 300 by 
SPE 503, and then stored within secure database 610 as encrypted 
records. 

In one embodiment, object registration table 460 includes 
information identifying objects within object storage (repository) 
728. These VDE objects*300 stored within object storage 728 are 
not, in the example embodiment, necessarily part of secure 
database 610 since the objects typically incorporate their own 
security (as necessary and required) and are maintained using 
different mechanisms than the ones used to maintain the secure 
database. Even though VDE objects 300 may not strictly be part 
of secure database 610, object registry 450 (and in particular, 
object registration table 460) refers to the objects and thus 
"incorporates them by reference" into the secure database. In the 
preferred embodiment, an electronic appliance 600 may be 
disabled from using any VDE object 300 that has not been 
appropriately registered with a corresponding registration record 
stored within object registration table 460. 

Subject table 462 in the example embodiment establishes 
correspondence between objects referred to by object registration 
table 460 and users (or groups of users) of electronic appliance 
600. Subject table 462 provides many of the attributes of an 
access control list ("ACL"), as will be explained below. 


388 


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• 


User rights table 464 in the example embodiment provides 
permissioning and other information specific to particular users or 
groups of users and object combinations set forth in subject table 
462. In the example embodiment, permissions records 808 (also 
shown in Figure 16 and being stored within secure database 610) 
may provide a universe of permissioning for a particular object- 
user combination. Records within user rights table 464 may 
specify a sub-set of this permissioning universe based on, for 
example, choices made by users during interaction at time of 
object registration. 

Administrative event log 442, shipping table 444, and 
receiving table 446 provide information about receipts and 
deliveries of VDE objects 300. These data structures keep track of 
administrative objects sent or received by electronic appliance 600 
including, for example, the purpose and actions of the 
administrative objects in summary and detailed form. Briefly, 
shipping table 444 incudes a shipping record for each 
administrative object sent (or scheduled to be sent) by electronic 
appliance 600 to another VDE participant. Receiving table 446 in 
the preferred embodiment includes a receiving record for each 
administrative object received (or scheduled to be received) by 
electronic appliance 600. Administrative event log 442 includes an 
event log record for each shipped and each received administrative 
object, and may include details concerning each distinct event 
specified by received administrative objects. 

Administrative Object Shipping and Receiving 

Figure 27 is an example of a detailed format for a shipping 
table 444. In the preferred embodiment, shipping table 444 


389 


(0064091.01) 



includes a header 444 A and any number of shipping records 445. 
Header 444A includes information used to maintain shipping table 
444. Each shipping record 445 within shipping table 44* provides 
details concerning a shipping event (i.e., either a completed 
shipment of an administrative object to another VDE participant, 
or a scheduled shipment of an administrative object). 

In the example embodiment of the secure database 610, 
shipping table header 444A may include a site record number 
444AQ), a user (or group) ID 444A(2), a series of reference fields 
444A(3)-444A(6), validation tags 444A(7)-444A(8), and a check 
value field 444AO). The fields 444A(3)-444A(6) reference certain 
recent IDs that designate lists of shipping records 445 within 
shipping table 444. For example, field 444A(3) may reference to a 
"first" shipping record representing a completed outgoing shipment 
of an administrative object, and field 444A(4) may reference to a 
"last" shipping record representing a completed outgoing shipment 
of an administrative object. In this example, "first" and "last" 
may, if desired, refer to time or order of shipment as one example. 
Similarly, fields 444A(5) and 444A(6) may reference to "first" and 
"last" shipping records for scheduled outgoing shipments. 
Validation tag 444A(7) may provide validation from a name 
services record within name services record table 452 associated 
with the user (group) ED in the header. This permits access from 
the shipping record back to the name services record that 
describes the sender of the object described by the shipping 
records. Validation tag 444A(8) provides validation for a "first" 
outgoing shipping record referenced by one or more of pointers 
444A(3H44A(6). Other validation tags may be provided for 
validation of scheduled shipping record(s). 


Shipping record 444(1) shown includes a site record number 
445(1)(A). It also includes first and last scheduled shipment 
date/times 445(1)(B), 445(1)(C) providing a window of time used for 
scheduling administrative object shipments. Field 445(1)(D) may 
specify an actual date/time of a completed shipment of an 
administrative object. Field 445(1)(E) provides an ID of an 
administrative object shipped or to be shipped, and thus identifies 
which administrative object within object storage 728 pertains to 
this particular shipping record. A reference field 445(1)(G) 
references a name services record within name services record 
table 452 specifying the actual or intended recipient of the 
administrative object shipped or to be shipped. This information 
within name services record table 452 may, for example, provide 
routing information sufficient to permit outgoing administrative 
objects manager 754 shown in Figure 12 to inform object switch 
734 to ship the administrative object to the intended recipient. A 
field 445(1)(H) may specify (e.g., using a series of bit flags) the 
purpose of the administrative object shipment, and a field 445(1)(I) 
may specify the status of the shipment. Reference fields 445(1)(J), 
445(1)(K) may reference "previous- and "next" shipping records 
445 in a linked list (in the preferred embodiment, there may be 
two linked lists, one for completed shipping records and the other 
for scheduled shipping records). Fields 445(1)(L) - 445(1)(P) may 
provide validation tags respectively from header 444A, to a record 
within administrative event log 442 pointed to by pointer 
445(1)(F); to the name services record referenced by field 
445(1)(G); from the previous record referenced by 445(1)(J); and to 
the next record referenced by field 445(1)(K). A check value field 
445(1)(Q) may be used for validating shipping record 445. 


391 


(0064091.01) 


Figure 28 shows an example of one possible detailed format 
for a receiving table 446. In one embodiment, receiving table 446 
has a structure that is similar to the structure of the shipping 
table 444 shown in Figure 27. Thus, for example, receiving table 
446 may include a header 446a and a plurality of receiving records 
447, each receiving record including details about a particular 
reception or scheduled reception of an administrative object. 
Receiving table 446 may include two linked lists, one for completed 
receptions and another for schedule receptions. Receiving table 
records 447 may each reference an entry within name services 
record table 452 specifying an administrative object sender, and 
may each point to an entry within administrative event log 442. 
Receiving records 447 may also include additional details about 
scheduled and/or completed reception (e.g., scheduled or actual 
date/time of reception, purpose of reception and status of 
reception), and they may each include validation tags for 
validating references to other secure database records. 

Figure 29 shows an example of a detailed format for an 
administrative event log 442. In the preferred embodiment, 
administrative event log 442 includes an event log record 
442(1) . . . 442(N) for each shipped administrative object and for 
each received administrative object. Each administrative event log 
record may include a header 443a and from 1 to N sub-records 
442(J)(1) . . . 442(J)(N). In the preferred embodiment, header 443a 
may include a site record number field 443 Ad), a record length 
field 443A(2), an administrative object ID field 443A(3), a field 
443A(4) specifying a number of events, a validation tag 443A(5) 
from shipping table 444 or receiving table 446, and a check sum 
field 443A(6). The number of events specified in field 443A(4) 


ooo 


corresponds to the number of sub-records 442(J)(1) . . . 442(J)(N) 
within the administrative event log record 442(J). Each of these 
sub-records specifies information about a particular "event" 
affected or corresponding to the administrative object specified 
within field 443(A)(3). Administrative events are retained in the 
administrative event log 442 to permit the reconstruction (and 
preparation for construction or processing) of the administrative 
objects that have been sent from or received by the system. This 
permits lost administrative objects to be reconstructed at a later 
time. 

Each sub-record may include a sub-record length field 
442(J)(l)(a), a data area length field 442(J)(l)(b), an event ID field 
442(J)(l)(c), a record type field 442(J)(l)(d), a record ID field 
442(J)(l)(e), a data area field 442(J)(l)(f), and a check value field 
442(J)(l)(g). The data area 442(J)(l)(f) may be used to indicate 
which information within secure database 610 is affected by the 
event specified in the event ID field 442(J)(l)(c), or what new 
secure database item(s) were added, and may also specify the 
outcome of the event. 

The object registration table 460 in the preferred 
embodiment includes a record corresponding to each VDE object 
300 within object storage (repositoxy) 728. When a new object 
arrives or is detected (e.g., by redirector 684), a preferred 
embodiment electronic appliance 600 "registers" the object by 
creating an appropriate object registration record and storing it in 
the object registration table 460. In the preferred embodiment, 
the object registration table stores information that is user- 
independent, and depends only on the objects that are registered 


(0064091.01) 


at a given VDE electronic appliance 600. Registration activities 
are typically managed by a REGISTER method associated with an 
object. 

In the example, subject table 462 associates users (or groups 
of users) with registered objects. The example subject table 462 
performs the function of an access control list by specifying which 
users are authorized to access which registered VDE objects 300. 

As described above, secure database 610 stores at least one 
PERC 808 corresponding to each registered VDE object 300. 
PERCS 808 specify a set of rights that may be exercised to use or 
access the corresponding VDE object 300. The preferred 
embodiment allows user to "customize" their access rights by 
selecting a subset of rights authorized by a corresponding PERC 
808 and/or by specifying parameters or choices that correspond to 
some or all of the rights granted by PERC 808. These user choices 
are set forth in a user rights table 464 in the preferred 
embodiment. User rights table (URT) 464 includes URT records, 
each of which corresponds to a user (or group of users). Each of 
these URT records specifies user choices for a corresponding VDE 
object 300. These user choices may, either independently or in 
combination with a PERC 808, reference one or more methods 
1000 for exercising the rights granted to the user by the PERC 808 
in a way specified by the choices contained within the URT record. 

Figure 30 shows an example of how these various tables 
may interact with one another to provide a secure database lookup 
mechanism. Figure 30 shows object registration table 460 as 
having a plurality of object registration records 460(1), 460(2), 


394 


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These records correspond to VDE objects 300(1), 300(2), . . . stored 
within object repository 728. Figure 31 shows an example format 
for an object registration record 460 provided by the preferred 
embodiment. Object registration record 460(N) may include the 
following fields: 

site record number field 466(1) 
object type field 466(2) 
creator ID field 466(3) 
object ID field 466(4) 

a reference field 466(5) that references subject 

table 462 
an attribute field 466(6) 
a minimum registration interval field 466(7) 
a tag 466(8) to a subject table record, and 
a check value field 466(9). 

The site record number field 466(1) specifies the site record 
number for this object registration record 460(N). In one 
embodiment of secure database 610, each record stored within the 
secure database is identified by a site record number. This site 
record number may be used as part of a database lookup process 
in order to keep track of all of the records within the secure 
database 610. 

Object type field 466(2) may specify the type of registered 
VDE object 300 (e.g., a content object, an administrative object 
etc.). 

Creator ID field 466(3) in the example may identify the 
creator of the corresponding VDE object 300. 


395 


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Object ID field 466(4) in the example uniquely identifies the 
registered VDE object 300. 

Reference field 466(5) in the preferred embodiment identifies 
a record within the subject table 462. Through use of this 
reference, electronic appliance 600 may determine all users (or 
user groups) listed in subject table 462 authorized to access the 
corresponding VDE object 300. Tag 466(8) is used to validate that 
the subject table records accessed using field 466(5) is the proper 
record to be used with the object registration record 460(N). 

Attribute field 466(6) may store one or more attributes or 
attribute flags corresponding to VDE object 300. 

Minimum registration interval field 466(7) may specify how 
often the end user may re-register as a user of the VDE object 300 
with a clearinghouse service, VDE administrator, or VDE provider. 
One reason to prevent frequent re-registration is to foreclose users 
from reusing budget quantities in traveling objects until a 
specified amount of time has elapsed. The minimum registration 
interval field 466(7) may be left unused when the object owner 
does not wish to restrict re-registration. 

Check value field 466(9) contains validation information 
used for detecting corruption or modification of record 460(N) to 
ensure security and integrity of the record. In the preferred 
embodiment, many or all of the fields within record 460(N) (as 
with other records within the secure database 610) may be fully or 
partially encrypted and/or contain fields that are stored 
redundantly in each record (once in unencrypted form and once in 


(0064091.01) 


encrypted form). Encrypted and unencrypted versions of the same 
fields may be cross checked at various times to detect corruption 
or modification of the records. 

As mentioned above, reference field 466(5) references subject 
table 462, and in particular, references one or more user/object 
records 460(M) within the subject table. Figure 32 shows an 
example of a format for a user/object record 462(M) provided by 
the example. Record 462(M) may include a header 468 and a 
subject record portion 470. Header 468 may include a field 468(6) 
referencing a "first" subject record 470 contained within the 
subject registration table 462. This "first" subject record 470(1) 
may, in turn, include a reference field 470(5) that references a 
"next" subject record 470(2) within the subject registration table 
462, and so on. This "linked list" structure permits a single object 
registration record 460(N) to reference to from one to N subject 
records 470. 


Subject registration table header 468 in the example 
includes a site record number field 468(1) that may uniquely 
identify the header as a record within secure database 610. 
Header 468 may also include a creator ID field 468(2) that may be 
a copy of the content of the object registration table creator ID 
field 466(3). Similarly, subject registration table header 468 may 
include an object ID field 468(5) that may be a copy of object ID 
field 466(4) within object registration table 460. These fields 
468(2), 468(5) make user/object registration records explicitly 
correspond to particular VDE objects 300. 


397 


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Header 468 may also include a tag 468(7) that permits 
validation. In one example arrangement, the tag 468(7) within the 
user/object registration header 468 may be the same as the tag 
466(8) within the object registration record 460(N) that points to 
the user/object registration header. Correspondence between these 
tags 468(7) and 466(8) permits validation that the object 
registration record and user/object registration header match up. 

User/object header 468 also includes an original distributor 
ID field 468(3) indicating the original distributor of the 
corresponding VDE object 300, and the last distributor ID field 
468(4) that indicates the last distributor within the chain of 
handling of the object prior to its receipt by electronic appliance 
600. 

Header 468 also includes a tag 468(8) allowing validation 
between the header and the "first" subject record 470(1) which 
field 468(6) references 

Subject record 470(1) includes a site record number 472(1), a 
user (or user group) ID field 472(2), a user (or user group) 
attributes field 472(3), a field 472(4) referencing user rights table 
464, a field 472(5) that references to the "next" subject record 
470(2) (if there is one), a tag 472(6) used to validate with the 
header tag 468(8), a tag 472(7) used to validate with a 
corresponding tag in the user rights table record referenced by 
field 472(4), a tag 472(9) used to validate with a tag in the "next" 
subject record referenced to by field 472(5) and a check value field 
472(9). 


398 


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User or user group ID 472(2) identifies a user or a user 
group authorized to use the object identified in field 468(5). Thus, 
the fields 468(5) and 472(2rtogether form the heart of the access 
control list provided by subject table 462. User attributes field 
472(3) may specify attributes pertaining to use/access to object 300 
by the user or user group specified in fields 472(2). Any number of 
different users or user groups may be added to the access control 
list (each with a different set of attributes 472(3)) by providing 
additional subject records 470 in the "linked list" structure. 

Subject record reference field 472(4) references one or more 
records within user rights table 464. Figure 33 shows an example 
of a preferred format for a user rights table record 464(k). User 
rights record 464(k) may include a URT header 474, a record 
rights header 476, and a set of user choice records 478. URT 
header 474 may include a site record number field, a field 474(2) 
specifying the number of rights records within the URT record 
46400, a field 474(3) referencing a "first" rights record (i.e., to 
rights record header 476), a tag 474(4) used to validate the lookup 
from the subject table 462, a tag 474(5) used to validate the lookup 
to the rights record header 476, and a check value field 474(6). 

Rights record header 476 in the preferred embodiment may 
include site record number field 476(1), a right ID field 476(2), a 
field 476(3) referencing the "next" rights record 476(2), a field 
476(4) referencing a first set of user choice records 478(1), a tag 
476(5) to allow validation with URT header tag 474(5), a tag 
476(6) to allow validation with a user choice record tag 478(6), and 
a check value field 476(7). Right ID field 476(2) may, for example, 


specify the type of right conveyed by the rights record 476(e.g., 
right to use, right to distribute, right to read, right to audit, etc.). 

The one or more user choice records 478 referenced by rights 
record header 476 sets forth the user choices corresponding to 
access and/or use of the corresponding VDE object 300. There will 
typically be a rights record 476 for each right authorized to the 
corresponding user or user group. These rights govern use of the 
VDE object 300 by that user or user group. For instance, the user 
may have an "access* right, and an "extraction" right, but not a 
"copy* right. Other rights controlled by rights record 476 (which is 
derived from PERC 808 using a REGISTER method in the 
preferred embodiment) include distribution rights, audit rights, 
and pricing rights. When an object 300 is registered with the 
electronic appliance 600 and is registered with a particular user or 
user group, the user may be permitted to select among various 
usage methods set forth in PERC 808. For instance, a VDE object 
300 might have two required meter methodologies: one for billing 
purposes, and one for accumulating data concerning the 
promotional materials used by the user. The user might be given 
the choice of a variety of meter/billing methods, such as: payment 
by VISA or MasterCard; choosing between billing based upon the 
quantity of material retrieved from an information database, based 
on the time of use, and/or both. The user might be offered a 
discount on time and/or quantity billing if he is willing to allow 
certain details concerning his retrieval of content to be provided to 
third parties (e.g., for demographic purposes). At the time of 
registration of an object and/or user for the object, the user would 
be asked to select a particular meter methodology as the "active 
metering method" for the first acquired meter. A VDE distributor 


400 


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might narrow the universe of available choices for the user to a 
subset of the original selection array stipulated by PERC 808. 
These user selection and configuration settings are stored within 
user choice records 480(1), 480(2), 480(N). The user choice records 
need not be explicitly set forth within user rights table 464; 
instead, it is possible for user choice records 480 to refer (e.g., by 
site reference number) to particular VDE methods and/or 
information parameterizing those methods. Such reference by 
user choice records 480 to method 1000 should be validated by 
validation tags contained within the user choice records. Thus, 
user choice records 480 in the preferred embodiment may select 
one or more methods 1000 for use with the corresponding VDE 
object 300 (as is shown in Figure 27). These user choice records 
480 may themselves fully define the methods 1000 and other 
information used to build appropriate components assemblies 690 
for implementing the methods. Alternatively, the user/object 
record 462 used to reference the user rights record 464 may also 
reference the PERC 808 corresponding to VDE object 300 to 
provide additional information needed to build the component 
assembly 690 and/or otherwise access the VDE object 300. For 
example, PERC 808 may be accessed to obtain MDEs 1202 
pertaining to the selected methods, private body and/or rights keys 
for decrypting and/or encrypting object contents, and may also be 
used to provide a checking capability ensuring that the user rights 
record conveys only those rights authorized by a current 
authorization embodied within a PERC. 

In one embodiment provided by the present invention, a 
conventional database engine may be used to store and organize 
secure database 610, and the encryption layers discussed above 


401 


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may be "on top of the conventional database structure. However, 
if such a conventional database engine is unable to organize the 
records in secure database 610 and support the security 
considerations outlined above, then electronic appliance 600 may 
maintain separate indexing structures in encrypted form. These 
separate indexing structures can be maintained by SPE 503. This 
embodiment would require SPE 503 to decrypt the index and 
search decrypted index blocks to find appropriate "site record IDs" 
or other pointers. SPE 503 might then request the indicated 
record from the conventional database engine. If the record ID 
cannot be checked against a record list, SPE 503 might be 
required to ask for the data file itself so it can retrieve the desired 
record. SPE 503 would then perform appropriate authentication 
to ensure that the file has not been tampered with and that the 
proper block is returned. SPE 503 should not simply pass the 
index to the conventional database engine (unless the database 
engine is itself secure) since this would allow an incorrect record to 
be swapped for the requested one. 

Figure 34 is an example of how the site record numbers 
described above may be used to access the various data structures 
within secure database 610. In this example, secure database 610 
further includes a site record table 482 that stores a plurality of 
site record numbers. Site record table 482 may store what is in 
effect a "master list" of all records within secure database 610. 
These site record numbers stored by site record table 482 permit 
any record within secure database 610 to be accessed. Thus, some 
of the site records within site record table 482 may index records 
with an object registration table 460, other site record numbers 
within the site record table may index records within the 


402 


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• 


user/object table 462, still other site record numbers within the 
site record table may access records within URT 464, and still 
other site record numbers within the site record table may access 
PERCs 808. In addition, each of method cores 1000' may also 
include a site record number so they may be accessed by site 
record table 482. 

Figure 34A shows an example of a site record 482(j) within 
site record table 482. Site record 4820) may include a field 484(1) 
indicating the type of record, a field 484(2) indicating the owner or 
creator of the record, a "class u field 484(3) and an "instance" field 
484(4) providing additional information about the record to which 
the site record 4820) points; a specific descriptor field 484(5) 
indicating some specific descriptor (e.g., object ID) associated with 
the record; an identification 484(6) of the table or other data 
structure which the site record references; a reference and/or offset 
within that data structure indicating where the record begins; a 
validation tag 484(8) for validating the record being looked up, and 
a check value field 484(9). Fields 484(6) and 484(7) together may 
provide the mechanism by which the record referenced to by the 
site record 4840) is actually physically located within the secure 
database 610. 

Updating Secure Database 610 

Figure 35 show an example of a process 1150 which can be 
used by a clearinghouse, VDE administrator or other VDE 
participant to update the secure database 610 maintained by an 
end user's electronic appliance 600. For example, the process 1500 
shown in Figure 35 might be used to collect "audit trail" records 


403 


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within secure database 610 and/or provide new budgets and 
permissions (e.g., PERCs 808) in response to an end user's request. 

Typically, the end user's electronic appliance 600 rr, y 
initiate communications with a clearinghouse (Block 1152). This 
contact may, for example, be established automatically or in 
response to a user command. It may be initiated across the 
electronic highway 108, or across other communications networks 
such as a LAN, WAN, two-way cable or using portable media 
exchange between electronic appliances. The process of 
exchanging administrative information need not occur in a single 
"on line a session, but could instead occur over time based on a 
number of different one-way and/or two-way communications over 
the same or different communications means. However, the 
process 1150 shown in Figure 35 is a specific example where the 
end user's electronic appliance 600 and the other VDE participant 
(e.g., a clearinghouse) establish a two-way real-time interactive 
communications exchange across a telephone line, network, 
electronic highway 108, etc. 

The end user's electronic appliance 600 generally contacts a 
particular VDE administrator or clearinghouse. The identity of 
the particular clearinghouse is based on the VDE object 300 the 
user wishes to access or has already accessed. For example, 
suppose the user has already accessed a particular VDE object 300 
and has run out of budget for further access. The user could issue 
a request which will cause her electronic appliance 600 to 
automatically contact the VDE administrator, distributor and/or 
financial clearinghouse that has responsibility for that particular 
object. The identity of the appropriate VDE participants to contact 


404 


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is provided in the example by information within UDEs 1200, 
MDEs 1202, the Object Registration Table 460 and/or Subject 
Table 462, for example. Electronic appliance 600 may have to 
contact multiple VDE participants (e.g., to distribute audit records 
to one participant, obtain additional budgets or other permissions 
from another participant, etc.). The contact 1152 may in one 
example be scheduled in accordance with the Figure 27 Shipping 
Table 444 and the Figure 29 Administrative Event Log 442. 

Once contact is established, the end user's electronic 
appliance and the clearinghouse typically authenticate one another 
and agree on a session key to use for the real-time information 
exchange (Block 1154). Once a secure connection is established, 
the end user's electronic appliance may determine (e.g., based on 
Shipping Table 444) whether it has any administrative object(s) 
containing audit information that it is supposed to send to the 
clearinghouse (decision Block 1156). Audit information pertaining 
to several VDE objects 300 may be placed within the same 
administrative object for transmission, or different administrative 
objects may contain audit information about different objects. 
Assuming the end user's electronic appliance has at least one such 
administrative object to send to this particular clearinghouse 
Cyes a exit to decision Block 1156), the electronic appliance sends 
that administrative object to the clearinghouse via the now- 
established secure real-time communications (Block 1158). In one 
specific example, a single administrative object may be sent an 
administrative object containing audit information pertaining to 
multiple VDE objects, with the audit information for each different 
object compromising a separate "event" within the administrative 
object. 


(0064091.01) 


The clearinghouse may receive the administrative object and 
process its contents to determine whether the contents are "valid" 
and "legitimate." For example, the clearinghouse may analyze the 
contained audit information to determine whether it indicates 
misuse of the applicable VDE object 300. The clearinghouse may, 
as a result of this analysis, may generate one or more responsive 
administrative objects that it then sends to the end user's 
electronic appliance 600 (Block 1160). The end user's electronic 
appliance 600 may process events that update its secure database 
610 and/or SPU 500 contents based on the administrative object 
received (Block 1162). For example, if the audit information 
received by the clearinghouse is legitimate, then the clearinghouse 
may send an administrative object to the end user's electronic 
appliance 600 requesting the electronic appliance to delete and/or 
compress the audit information that has been transferred. 
Alternatively or in addition, the clearinghouse may request 
additional information from the end-user electronic appliance 600 
at this stage (e.g., retransmission of certain information that was 
corrupted during the initial transmission, transmission of 
additional information not earlier transmitted, etc.). If the 
clearinghouse detects misuse based on the received audit 
information, it may transmit an administrative object that revokes 
or otherwise modifies the end user's right to further access the 
associated VDE objects 300. 

The clearinghouse may, in addition or alternatively, send an 
administrative object to the end user's electronic appliance 600 
that instructs the electronic appliance to display one or more 
messages to the user. These messages may inform the user about 
certain conditions and/or they may request additional information 


(0064091.01) 


from the user. For example, the message may instruct the end 
user to contact the clearinghouse directly by telephone or 
otherwise to resolve an indicated problem, enter a PIN, or it may 
instruct the user to contact a new service company to re-register 
the associated VDE object. Alternatively, the message may tell 
the end user that she needs to acquire new usage permissions for 
the object, and may inform the user of cost, status and other 
associated information. 

During the same or different communications exchange, the 
same or different clearinghouse may handle the end user's request 
for additional budget and/or permission pertaining to VDE object 
300. For example, the end user's electronic appliance 600 may 
(e.g., in response to a user input request to access a particular 
VDE object 300) send an administrative object to the 
clearinghouse requesting budgets and/or other permissions 
allowing access (Block 1164). As mentioned above, such requests 
may be transmitted in the form of one or more administrative 
objects, such as, for example, a single administrative object having 
multiple "events" associated with multiple requested budgets 
and/or other permissions for the same or different VDE objects 
300. The clearinghouse may upon receipt of such a request, check 
the end user's credit, financial records, business agreements and/or 
audit histories to determine whether the requested budgets and/or 
permissions should be given. The clearinghouse may, based on 
this analysis, send one or more responsive administrative objects 
which cause the end user's electronic appliance 600 to update its 
secure database in response (Block 1166, 1168). This updating 
might, for example, comprise replacing an expired PERC 808 with 
a fresh one, modifying a PERC to provide additional (or lesser) 


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rights, etc. Steps 1164-1168 may be repeated multiple times in 
the same or different communications session to provide further 
updates to the end user's secure database 610. 

Figure 36 shows an example of how a new record or element 
may be inserted into secure database 610. The load process 1070 
shown in Figure 35 checks each data element or item as it is 
loaded to ensure that it has not been tampered with, replaced or 
substituted. In the process 1070 shown in Figure 35, the first step 
that is performed is to check to see if the current user of electronic 
appliance 600 is authorized to insert the item into secure database 
610 (block 1072). This test may involve, in the preferred 
embodiment, loading (or using already loaded) appropriate 
methods 1000 and other data structures such as UDEs 1200 into 
an SPE 503, which then authenticates user authorization to make 
the change to secure database 610 (block 1074). If the user is 
approved as being authorized to make the change to secure 
database 610, then SPE 503 may check the integrity of the 
element to be added to the secure database by decrypting it (block 
1076) and determining whether it has become damaged or 
corrupted (block 1078). The element is checked to ensure that it 
decrypts properly using a predetermined management file key, and 
the check value may be validated. In addition, the public and 
private header ID tags (if present) may be compared to ensure 
that the proper element has been provided and had not been 
substituted, and the unique element tag ID compared against the 
predetermined element tag. If any of these tests fail, the element 
may be automatically rejected, error corrected, etc. Assuming the 
element is found to have integrity, SPE 503 may re-encrypt the 
information (block 1080) using a new key for example (see Figure 


408 


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37 discussion below). In the same process step an appropriate tag 
is preferably provided so that the information becomes encrypted 
within a security wrapper having appropriate tags contained 
therein (block 1082). SPE 503 may retain appropriate tag 
information so that it can later validate or otherwise authenticate 
the item when it is again read from secure database 610 (block 
1084). The now-secure element within its security wrapper may 
then be stored within secure database 610. 

Figure 37 shows an example of a process 1050 used in the 
preferred embodiment database to securely access an item stored 
in secure database 610. In the preferred embodiment, SPE 503 
first accesses and reads in the item from secure database 610 
records. SPE 503 reads this information from secure database 610 
in encrypted form, and may "unwrap" it (block 1052) by decrypting 
it (block 1053) based on access keys internally stored within the 
protected memory of an SPU 500. In the preferred embodiment, 
this "unwrap" process 1052 involves sending blocks of information 
to encrypt/decrypt engine 522 along with a management file key 
and other necessary information needed to decrypt. Decrypt 
engine 522 may return "plaintext" information that SPE 503 then 
checks to ensure that the security of the object has not been 
breached and that the object is the proper object to be used (block 
1054). SPE 503 may then check all correlation and access tags to 
ensure that the read-in element has not been substituted and to 
guard against other security threats (block 1054). Part of this 
"checking" process involves checking the tags obtained from the 
secure database 610 with tags contained within the secure memory 
or an SPU 500 (block 1056). These tags stored within SPU 500 
may be accessed from SPU protected memory (block 1056) and 


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used to check further the now-unwrapped object. Assuming this 
"checking" process 1054 does not reveal any improprieties (and 
block 1052 also indicates that the object has not become corrupted 
or otherwise damaged), SPE 503 may then access or otherwise use 
the item (block 1058). Once use of the item is completed, SPE 503 
may need to store the item back into secure database 610 if it has 
changed. If the item has changed, SPE 503 will send the item in 
its changed form to encrypt/decrypt engine 522 for encryption 
(block 1060), providing the appropriate necessary information to 
the encrypt/decrypt engine (e.g., the appropriate same or different 
management file key and data) so that the object is appropriately 
encrypted. A unique, new tag and/or encryption key may be used 
at this stage to uniquely tag and/or encrypt the item security 
wrapper (block 1062; see also detailed Figure 37 discussion below). 
SPE 503 may retain a copy of the key and/or tag within a 
protected memory of SPU* 500 (block 1064) so that the SPE can 
decrypt and validate the object when it is again read from secure 
database 610. 

The keys to decrypt secure database 610 records are, in the 
preferred embodiment, maintained solely within the protected 
memory of an SPU 500. Each index or record update that leaves 
the SPU 500 may be time stamped, and then encrypted with a 
unique key that is determined by the SPE 503. For example, a 
key identification number may be placed n in plain view" at the 
front of the records of secure database 610 so the SPE 503 can 
determine which key to use the next time the record is retrieved. 
SPE 503 can maintain the site ID of the record or index, the key 
identification number associated with it, and the actual keys in 
the list internal to the SPE. At some point, this internal list may 


410 


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• 


fill up. At this point, SPE 503 may call a maintenance routine 
that re-encrypts items within secure database 610 containing 
changed information. Some or all of the items within the data 
structure containing changed information may be read in, 
decrypted, and then re-encrypted with the same key. These items 
may then be issued the same key identification number. The 
items may then be written out of SPE 503 back into secure 
database 610. SPE 503 may then clear the internal list of item 
IDs and corresponding key identification numbers. It may then 
begin again the process of assigning a different key and a new key 
identification number to each new or changed item. By using this 
process, SPE 503 can protect the data structures (including the 
indexes) of secure database 610 against substitution of old items 
and against substitution of indexes for current items. This process 
also allows SPE 503 to validate retrieved item IDs against the 
encrypted list of expected IDs. 

Figure 38 is a flowchart showing this process in more detail. 
Whenever a secure database 610 item is updated or modified, a 
new encryption key can be generated for the updated item. 
Encryption using a new key is performed to add security and to 
prevent misuse of backup copies of secure database 610 records. 
The new encryption key for each updated secure database 610 
record may be stored in SPU 500 secure memory with an 
indication of the secure database record or record(s) to which it 
applies. 

SPE 503 may generate a new encryption/decryption key for 
each new item it is going to store within secure database 610 
(block 1086). SPE 503 may use this new key to encrypt the record 


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prior to storing it in the secure database (block 1088). SPE 503 
make sure that it retains the key so that it can later read and 
decrypt the record. Such decryption keys are, in the preferred 
embodiment, maintained within protected non-volatile memory 
(e.g., NVRAM 534b) within SPU 500. Since this protected memory 
has a limited size, there may not be enough room within the 
protected memory to store a new key. This condition is tested for 
by decision block 1090 in the preferred embodiment. If there is 
not enough room in memory for the new key (or some other event 
such as the number of keys stored in the memory exceeding a 
predetermined number, a timer has expired, etc.), then the 
preferred embodiment handles the situation by re-encrypting other 
records with secure database 610 with the same new key in order 
to reduce the number of (or change) encryption/decryption keys in 
use. Thus, one or more secure database 610 items may be read 
from the secure database (block 1092), and decrypted using the old 
key(s) used to encrypt them the last time they were stored. In the 
preferred embodiment, one or more "old keys" are selected, and all 
secure database items encrypted using the old key(s) are read and 
decrypted. These records may now be re-encrypted using the new 
key that was generated at block 1086 for the new record (block 
1094). The old key(s) used to decrypt the other record(s) may now 
be removed from the SPU protected memory (block 1096), and the 
new key stored in its place (block 1097). The old key(s) cannot be 
removed from secure memory by block 1096 unless SPE 503 is 
assured that all records within the secure database 610 that were 
encrypted using the old key(s) have been read by block 1092 and 
re -encrypted by block 1904 using the new key. All records 
encrypted (or re-encrypted) using the new key may now be stored 
in secure database 610 (block 1098). If decision block 1090 


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• 


determines there is room within the SPU 500 protected memory to 
store the new key, then the operations of blocks 1092, 1094, 1096 
are not needed and SPE 503 may instead simply store the new key 
within the protected memory (block 1097) and store the new 
encrypted records into secure database 610 (block 1098). 

The security of secure database 610 files may be further 
improved by segmenting the records into "compartments" 
Different encryption/decryption keys may be used to protect 
different "compartments" This strategy can be used to limit the 
amount of information within secure database 610 that is 
encrypted with a single key. Another technique for increasing 
security of secure database 610 may be to encrypt different 
portions of the same records with different keys so that more than 
one key may be needed to decrypt those records. 

Backup of Secure Database 610 

Secure database 610 in the preferred embodiment is backed 
up at periodic or other time intervals to protect the information 
the secure database contains. This secure database information 
may be of substantial value to many VDE participants. Back ups 
of secure database 610 should occur without significant 
inconvenience to the user, and should not breach any security. 

The need to back up secure database 610 may be checked at 
power on of electronic appliance 600, when SPE 503 is initially 
invoked, at periodic time intervals, and if "audit roll up" value or 
other summary services information maintained by SPE 503 
exceeds a user set or other threshold, or triggered by criteria 
established by one or more content publishers and/or distributors 


(0064091.01) 


and/or clearinghouse service providers and/or users. The user may 
be prompted to backup if she has failed to do so by or at some 
certain point in time or after a certain duration of time or quantity 
of usage, or the backup may proceed automatically without user 
intervention. 

Referring to Figure 8, backup storage 668 and storage media 
670 (e.g., magnetic tape) may be used to store backed up 
information. Of course, any non-volatile media (e.g., one or more 
floppy diskettes, a writable optical diskette, a hard drive, or the 
like) may be used for backup storage 668. 

There are at least two scenarios to backing up secure 
database 610. The first scenario is "site specific," and uses the 
security of SPU 500 to support restoration of the backed up 
information. This first method is used in case of damage to secure 
database 610 due for example to failure of secondary storage 
device 652, inadvertent user damage to the files, or other 
occurrences that may damage or corrupt some or all of secure 
database 610. This first, site specific scenario of back up assumes 
that an SPU 500 still functions properly and is available to restore 
backed up information. 

The second back up scenario assumes that the user's SPU 
500 is no longer operational and needs to be, or has been, replaced. 
This second approach permits an authorized VDE administrator or 
other authorized VDE participant to access the stored back up 
information in order to prevent loss of critical data and/or assist 
the user in recovering from the error. 


414 


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Both of these scenarios are provided by the example of 
program control steps performed by ROS 602 shown in Figure 39. 
Figure 39 shows an example back up routine 1250 performed by 
an electronic appLance 600 to back up secure database 610 (and 
other information) onto back up storage 668. Once a back up has 
been initiated, as discussed above, back up routine 1250 generates 
one or more back up keys (block 1252). Back up routine 1250 then 
reads all secure database items, decrypts each item using the 
original key used to encrypt them before they were stored in 
secure database 610 (block 1254). Since SPU 500 is typically the 
only place where the keys for decrypting this information within 
an instance of secure database 610 are stored, and since one of the 
scenarios provided by back up routine 1250 is that SPU 500 
completely failed or is destroyed, back up routine 1250 performs 
this reading and decrypting step 1254 so that recovery from a 
backup is not dependent on knowledge of these keys within the 
SPU. Instead, back up routine 1250 encrypts each secure 
database 610 item with a newly generated back up key(s) (block 
1256) and writes the encrypted item to back up store 668 (block 
1258). This process continues until all items within secure 
database 610 have been read, decrypted, encrypted with a newly 
generated back up key(s), and written to the back up store (as 
tested for by decision block 1260). 

The preferred embodiment also reads the summary services 
audit information stored within the protected memory of SPU 500 
by SPE summary services manager 560, encrypts this information 
with the newly generated back up key(s), and writes this summary 
services information to back up store 668 (block 1262). 


415 


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Finally, back up routine 1250 saves the back up key(s) 
generated by block 1252 and used to encrypt in blocks 1256, 1262 
onto back up store 668. It does this in two secure ways in order to 
cover both of the restoration scenarios discussed above. Back up 
routine 1250 may encrypt the back up key(s) (along with other 
information such as the time of back up and other appropriate 
information to identify the back up) with a further key or keys 
such that only SPU 500 can decrypt (block 1264). This encrypted 
information is then written to back up store 668 (block 1264). For 
example, this step may include multiple encryptions using one or 
more public keys with corresponding private keys known only to 
SPU 500. Alternatively, a second back up key generated by the 
SPU 500 and kept only in the SPU may be used for the final 
encryption in place of a public key. Block 1264 preferably includes 
multiple encryption in order to make it more difficult to attack the 
security of the back up by "cracking" the encryption used to protect 
the back up keys. Although block 1262 includes encrypted 
summary services information on the back up, it preferably does 
not include SPU device private keys, shared keys, SPU code and 
other internal security information to prevent this information 
from ever becoming available to users even in encrypted form. 

The information stored by block 1264 is sufficient to allow 
the same SPU 500 that performed (or at least in part performed) 
back up routine 1250 to recover the backed up information. 
However, this information is useless to any device other than that 
same SPU because only that SPU knows the particular keys used 
to protect the back up keys. To cover the other possible scenario 
wherein the SPU 500 fails in a non-recoverable way, back up 
routine 1250 provides an additional step (block 1266) of saving the 


416 


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back up key(s) under protection of one or more further set of keys 
that may be read by an authorized VDE administrator. For 
example, block 1266 may encrypt the back up keys with an 
"download authorization k y" received during initialization of SPU 
500 from a VDE administrator. This encrypted version of back up 
keys is also written to back up store 668 (block 1266). It can be 
used to support restoration of the back up files in the event of an 
SPU 500 failure. More specifically, a VDE administrator that 
knows the download authorization (or other) keys(s) used by block 
1266 may be able to recover the back up key(s) in the back up 
store 668 and proceed to restore the backed up secure database 
610 to the same or different electronic appliance 600. 

In the preferred embodiment, the information saved by 
routine 1250 in back up files can be restored only after receiving a 
back up authorization from an authorized VDE administrator. In 
most cases, the restoration process will simply be a restoration of 
secure database 610 with some adjustments to account for any 
visage since the back up occurred. This may require the user to 
contact additional providers to transmit audit and billing data and 
receive new budgets to reflect activity since the last back up. 
Current summary services information maintained within SPU 
500 may be compared to the summary services information stored 
on the back up to determine or estimate most recent usage 
activity. 

In case of an SPU 500 failure, an authorized VDE 
administrator must be contacted to both initialize the replacement 
SPU 500 and to decrypt the back up files. These processes allow 
for both SPU failures and upgrades to new SPUs. In the case of 


417 


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restoration, the back up files are used to restore the necessary 
information to the user's system. In the case of upgrades, the back 
up files may be used to validate the upgrade process. 

The back up files may in some instances be used to transfer 
management information between electronic appliances 600. 
However, the preferred embodiment may restrict some or all 
information from being transportable between electronic 
appliances with appropriate authorizations. Some or all of the 
back up files may be packaged within an administrative object and 
transmitted for analysis, transportation, or other uses. 

As a more detailed example of a need for restoration from 
back up files, suppose an electronic appliance 600 suffers a hard 
disk failure or other accident that wipes out or corrupts part or all 
of the secure database 610, but assume that the SPU 500 is still 
functional. SPU 500 may include all of the information (e.g., 
secret keys and the like) it needs to restore the secure database 
610. However, ROS 602 may prevent secure database restoration 
until a restoration authorization is received from a VDE 
administrator. A restoration authorization may comprise, for 
example, a "secret value" that must match a value expected by 
SPE 503. A VDE administrator may, if desired, only provide this 
restoration authorization after, for example, summary services 
information stored within SPU 500 is transmitted to the 
administrator in an administrative object for analysis. In some 
circumstances, a VDE administrator may require that a copy 
(partial or complete) of the back up files be transmitted to it 
within an administrative object to check for indications of 
fraudulent activities by the user. The restoration process, once 


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• 


authorized, may require adjustment of restored budget records and 
the like to reflect activity since the last back up, as mentioned 
above. 

Figure 40 is an example of program controlled "restore" 
routine 1268 performed by electronic appliance 600 to restore 
secure database 610 based on the back up provided by the routine 
shown in Figure 38. This restore may be used, for example, in the 
event that an electronic appliance 600 has failed but can be 
recovered or "reinitialized" through contact with a VDE 
administrator for example. Since the preferred embodiment does 
not permit an SPU 500 to restore from backup unless and until 
authorized by a VDE administrator, restore routine 1268 begins by 
establishing a secure communication with a VDE administrator 
that can authorize the restore to occur (block 1270). Once SPU 
500 and the VDE administrator authenticate one another (part of 
block 1270), the VDE administrator may extract "work in 
progress" and summary values from the SPU 500's internal non- 
volatile memory (block 1272). The VDE administrator may use 
this extracted information to help determine, for example, whether 
there has been a security violation, and also permits a failed SPU 
500 to effectively "dump" its contents to the VDE administrator to 
permit the VDE administrator to handle the contents. The SPU 
500 may encrypt this information and provide it to the VDE 
administrator packaged in one or more administrative objects. 
The VDE administrator may then request a copy of some or all of 
the current backup of secure database 610 from the SPU 500 
(block 1274). This information may be packaged by SPU 500 into 
one or more administrative objects, for example, and sent to the 
VDE administrator. Upon receiving the information, the VDE 


419 


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administrator may read the summary services audit information 
from the backup volume (i.e., information stored by Figure 38 
block 1262) to determine the summary values and other 
information store at time of backup. The VDE administrator 
may also determine the time and date the backup was made by 
reading the information stored by Figure 38 block 1264. 

The VDE administrator may at this point restore the 
summary values and other information within SPU 500 based on 
the information obtained by block 1272 and from the backup (block 
1276). For example, the VDE administrator may reset SPU 
internal summary values and counters so that they are consistent 
with the last backup. These values may be adjusted by the VDE 
administrator based on the "work in progress - recovered by block 
1272, the amount of time that has passed since the backup, etc. 
The goal may typically be to attempt to provide internal SPU 
values that are equal to what they would have been had the 
failure not occurred. 

The VDE administrator may then authorize SPU 500 to 
recover its secure database 610 from the backup files (block 1278). 
This restoration process replaces all secure database 610 records 
with the records from the backup. The VDE administrator may 
adjust these records as needed by passing commands to SPU 500 
during or after the restoration process. 

The VDE administrator may then compute bills based on the 
recovered values (block 1280), and perform other actions to recover 
from SPU downtime (block 1282). Typically, the goal is to bill the 
user and adjust other VDE 100 values pertaining to the failed 


420 


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electronic appliance 600 for usage that occurred subsequent to the 
last backup but prior to the failure. This process may involve the 
VDE administrator obtaining, from other VDE participants, 
reports and other information pertaining to usdge by the electronic 
appliance prior to its failure and comparing it to the secure 
database backup to determine which usage and other events are 
not yet accounted for. 

In one alternate embodiment, SPU 500 may have sufficient 
internal, non-volatile memory to allow it to store some or all of 
secure database 610. In this embodiment, the additional memory 
may be provided by additional one or more integrated circuits that 
can be contained within a secure enclosure, such as a tamper 
resistant metal container or some form of a chip pack containing 
multiple integrated circuit components, and which impedes and/or 
evidences tampering attempts, and/or disables a portion or all of 
SPU 500 or associated critical key and/or other control information 
in the event of tampering. The same back up routine 1250 shown 
in Figure 38 may be used to back up this type of information, the 
only difference being that block 1254 may read the secure 
database item from the SPU internal memory and may not need to 
decrypt it before encrypting it with the back up key(s). 

Event-Driven VDE Processes 

As discussed above, processes provided by/under the 
preferred embodiment rights operating system (ROS) 602 may be 
"event driven" This "event driven* capability facilitates 
integration and extendibility. 


(0064091.01) 


An "event" is a happening at a point in time. Some 
examples of "events" are a user striking a key of a keyboard, 
arrival of a message or an object 300, expiration of a timer, or a 
request from another proc^ s. 

In the preferred embodiment, ROS 602 responds to an 
"event" by performing a process in response to the event. ROS 602 
dynamically creates active processes and tasks in response to the 
occurrence of an event. For example, ROS 602 may create and 
begin executing one or more component assemblies 690 for 
performing a process or processes in response to occurrence of an 
event. The active processes and tasks may terminate once ROS 
602 has responded to the event. This ability to dynamically create 
(and end) tasks in response to events provides great flexibility, and 
also permits limited execution resources such as those provided by 
an SPU 500 to perform a virtually unlimited variety of different 
processes in different contexts. 

Since an "event" may be any type of happening, there are an 
unlimited number of different events. Thus, any attempt to 
categorize events into different types will necessarily be a 
generalization. Keeping this in mind, it is possible to categorize 
events provided/supported by the preferred embodiment into two 
broad categories: 

• user-initiated events; and 

• system-initiated events. 

Generally, "user-initiated" events are happenings 
attributable to a user (or a user application). A common "user- 


422 


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initiated" event is a user's request (e.g., by pushing a keyboard 
button, or transparently using redirector 684) to access an object 
300 or other VDE-protected information. 

"System-initiated" events are generally happenings not 
attributable to a user. Examples of system initiated events 
include the expiration of a timer indicating that information 
should be backed to non-volatile memory, receipt of a message 
from another electronic appliance 600, and a service call generated 
by another process (which may have been started to respond to a 
system-initiated event and/or a user-initiated event). 

ROS 602 provided by the preferred embodiment responds to 
an event by specifying and beginning processes to process the 
event. These processes are, in the preferred embodiment, based on 
methods 1000. Since there are an unlimited number of different 
types of events, the preferred embodiment supports an unlimited 
number of different processes to process events. This flexibility is 
supported by the dynamic creation of component assemblies 690 
from independently deliverable modules such as method cores 
1000', load modules 1100, and data structures such as UDEs 1200. 
Even though any categorization of the unlimited potential types of 
processes supported/provided by the preferred embodiment will be 
a generalization, it is possible to generally classify processes as 
falling within two categories: 

• processes relating to use of VDE protected information; and 

• processes relating to VDE administration. 


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"Use* and "Administrative* Processes 

"Use" processes relate in some way to use of VDE-protected 
information. Methods 1000 provided by the preferred embodiment 
may provide processes for creating aM maintaining a chain of 
control for use of VDE-protected information. One specific 
example of a "use" type process is processing to permit a user to 
open a VDE object 300 and access its contents. A method 1000 
may provide detailed use-related processes such as, for example, 
releasing content to the user as requested (if permitted), and 
updating meters, budgets, audit trails, etc. Use-related processes 
are often user-initiated, but some use processes may be system- 
initiated. Events that trigger a VDE use-related process may be 
called "use events." 

An "administrative* process helps to keep VDE 100 working. 
It provides processing that helps support the transaction 
management "infrastructure" that keeps VDE 100 running 
securely and efficiently. Administrative processes may, for 
example, provide processing relating to some aspect of creating, 
modifying and/or destroying VDE-protected data structures that 
establish and maintain VDE's chain of handling and control. For 
example, "administrative" processes may store, update, modify or 
destroy information contained within a VDE electronic appliance 
600 secure database 610. Administrative processes also may 
provide communications services that establish, maintain and 
support secure communications between different VDE electronic 
appliances 600. Events that trigger administrative processes may 
be called "administrative events." 


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Reciprocal Methods 

Some VDE processes are paired based on the way they 
interact together. One VDE process may "request" processing 
services from another VDE process. The process that requests 
processing services may be called a "request process." The 
"request" constitutes an "event" because it triggers processing by 
the other VDE process in the pair. The VDE process that 
responds to the "request event" may be called a "response process." 
The "request process" and "response process" may be called 
"reciprocal processes." 

The "request event" may comprise, for example, a message 
issued by one VDE node electronic appliance 600 or process for 
certain information. A corresponding "response process" may 
respond to the "request event" by, for example, sending the 
information requested in the message. This response may itself 
constitute a "request event" if it triggers a further VDE "response 
process." For example, receipt of a message in response to an 
earlier-generated request may trigger a "reply process." This 
"reply process" is a special type of "response process" that is 
triggered in response to a "reply* from another "response process " 
There may be any number of "request" and "response" process 
pairs within a given VDE transaction. 

A "request process" and its paired "response process" may be 
performed on the same VDE electronic appliance 600, or the two 
processes may be performed on different VDE electronic 
appliances. Communication between the two processes in the pair 
may be by way of a secure (VDE-protected) communication, an 
"out of channel" communication, or a combination of the two. 


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Figures 41a-41d are a set of examples that show how the 
chain of handling and control is enabled using "reciprocal 
methods." A chain of handling and control is constructed, in part, 
using one or more pairs of "reciprocal events" U at cooperate in 
request-response manner. Pairs of reciprocal events may be 
managed in the preferred embodiment in one or more "reciprocal 
methods." As mentioned above, a "reciprocal method" is a method 
1000 that can respond to one or more "reciprocal events." 
Reciprocal methods contain the two halves of a cooperative process 
that may be securely executed at physically and/or temporally 
distant VDE nodes. The reciprocal processes may have a flexibly 
defined information passing protocols and information content 
structure. The reciprocal methods may, in fact, be based on the 
same or different method core 1000' operating in the same or 
different VDE nodes 600. VDE nodes 600A and 600B shown in 
Figure 41a may be the same physical electronic appliance 600 or 
may be separate electronic appliances. 

Figure 41a is an example of the operation of a single pair of 
reciprocal events. In VDE node 600A, method 1000a is processing 
an event that has a request that needs to be processed at VDE 
node 600B. The method 1000a (e.g., based on a component 
assembly 690 including its associated load modules 1100 and data) 
that responds to this "request" event is shown in Figure 41a as 
1450. The process 1450 creates a request (1452) and, optionally, 
some information or data that will be sent to the other VDE node 
1000b for processing by a process associated with the reciprocal 
event. The request and other information may be transmitted by 
any of the transport mechanisms described elsewhere in this 
disclosure. 


426 


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Receipt of the request by VDE node 600b comprises a 
response event at that node. Upon receipt of the request, the VDE 
node 600b may perform a "reciprocal" process 1454 defined by the 
same or different method 1000b to respond to the response event. 
The reciprocal process 1454 may be based on a component 
assembly 690 (e.g., one or more load modules 1100, data, and 
optionally other methods present in the VDE node 600B). 

Figure 41b extends the concepts presented in Figure 41a to 
include a response from VDE node 600B back to VDE node 600A. 
The process starts as described for Figure 41a through the receipt 
and processing of the request event and information 1452 by the 
response process 1454 in VDE node 600B. The response process 
1454 may, as part of its processing, cooperate with another request 
process (1468) to send a response 1469 back to the initiating VDE 
node 600A. A corresponding reciprocal process 1470 provided by 
method 1000A may respond to and process this request event 
1469. In this manner, two or more VDE nodes 600A, 600B may 
cooperate and pass configurable information and requests between 
methods 1000A, 1000B executing in the nodes. The first and 
second request-response sequences [(1450, 1452, 1454) and (1468, 
1469, 1470)] may be separated by temporal and spatial distances. 
For efficiency, the request (1468) and response (1454) processes 
may be based on the same method 1000 or they may be 
implemented as two methods in the same or different method core 
1000'. A method 1000 may be parameterized by an "event code" 
so it may provide different behaviors/results for different events, or 
different methods may be provided for different events. 


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Figure 41c shows the extension the control mechanism 
described in Figures 41a-41b to three nodes (600A, 600B, 600C). 
Each request-response pair operates in the manner as described 
for Figure 41b, with several pairs linked together to form a chain 
of control and handling between several VDE nodes 600A, 600B, 
600C. This mechanism may be used to extend the chain of 
handling and control to an arbitrary number of VDE nodes using 
any configuration of nodes. For example, VDE node 600C might 
communicate directly to VDE node 600A and communicate directly 
to VDE 600B, which in turn communicates with VDE node 600A. 
Alternately, VDE node 600C might communicate directly with 
VDE node 600A, VDE node 600A may communicate with VDE 
node 600B, and VDE node 600B may communicate with VDE node 
600C. 

A method 1000 may be parameterized with sets of events 
that specify related or cooperative functions. Events may be 
logically grouped by function (e.g., use, distribute), or a set of 
reciprocal events that specify processes that may operate in 
conjunction with each other. Figure 41d illustrates a set of 
"reciprocal events- that support cooperative processing between 
several VDE nodes 102, 106, 112 in a content distribution model to 
support the distribution of budget. The chain of handling and 
control, in this example, is enabled by using a set of "reciprocal 
events- specified within a BUDGET method. Figure 41d is an 
example of how the reciprocal event behavior within an example 
BUDGET method (1510) work in cooperation to establish a chain 
of handling and control between several VDE nodes. The example 
BUDGET method 1510 responds to a W event 1478 by 
performing a "use- process 1476 that defines the mechanism by 


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which processes are budgeted. The BUDGET method 1510 might, 
for example, specify a use process 1476 that compares a meter 
count to a budget value and fail the operation if the meter count 
exceeds the budget value. It might also write an audit trail that 
describes the results of said BUDGET decisions. Budget method 
1510 may respond to a "distribute" event by performing a 
distribute process 1472 that defines the process and/or control 
information for further distribution of the budget. It may respond 
to a "request" event 1480 by performing a request process 1480 
that specifies how the user might request use and/or distribution 
rights from a distributor. It may respond to a "response* event 
1482 by performing a response process 1484 that specifies the 
manner in which a distributor would respond to requests from 
other users to whom they have distributed some (or all) of their 
budget to. It may respond to a "reply" event 1474 by performing a 
reply process 1475 that might specify how the user should respond 
to message regranting or denying (more) budget. 

Control of event processing, reciprocal events, and their 
associated methods and method components is provided by PERCs 
808 in the preferred embodiment. These PERCs (808) might 
reference administrative methods that govern the creation, 
modification, and distribution of the data structures and 
administrative methods that permit access, modification, and 
further distribution of these items. In this way, each link in the 
chain of handling and control might, for example, be able to 
customize audit information, alter the budget requirements for 
using the content, and/or control further distribution of these 
rights in a manner specified by prior members along the 
distribution chain. 


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In the example shown in Figure 4 Id, a distributor at a VDE 
distributor node (106) might request budget from a content creator 
at another node (102). This request may be made in the context of 
a secure VDE communication or it may be passed in an "out-of- 
channel" communication (e.g. a telephone call or letter). The 
creator 102 may decide to grant budget to the distributor 106 and 
processes a distribute event (1452 in BUDGET method 1510 at 
VDE node 102). A result of processing the distribute event within 
the BUDGET method might be a secure communication (1454) 
between VDE nodes 102 and 106 by which a budget granting use 
and redistribute rights to the distributor 106 may be transferred 
from the creator 102 to the distributor. The distributor's VDE 
node 106 may respond to the receipt of the budget information by 
processing the communication using the reply process 1475B of the 
BUDGET method 1510. The reply event processing 1475B might, 
for example, install a budget and PERC 808 within the 
distributor's VDE 106 node to permit the distributor to access 
content or processes for which access is control at least in part by 
the budget and/or PERC. At some point, the distributor 106 may 
also desire to use the content to which she has been granted rights 
to access. 

After registering to use the content object, the user 112 
would be required to utilize an array of "use* processes 1476C to, 
for example, open, read, write, and/or close the content object as 
part of the use process. 

Once the distributor 106 has used some or all of her budget, 
she may desire to obtain additional budget. The distributor 106 
might then initiate a process using the BUDGET method request 


430 


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process (1480B). Request process 1480B might initiate a 
communication (1482AB) with the content creator VDE node 102 
requesting more budget and perhaps providing details of the use 
activity to date (e.g., audit trails). The content creator 102 
processes the 'get more budget* request event 1482AB using the 
response process (1484A) within the creator's BUDGET method 
1510A. Response process 1484A might, for example, make a 
determination if the use information indicates proper use of the 
content, and/or if the distributor is credit worthy for more budget. 
The BUDGET method response process 1484A might also initiate 
a financial transaction to transfer funds from the distributor to 
pay for said use, or use the distribute process 1472A to distribute 
budget to the distributor 106. A response to the distributor 106 
granting more budget (or denying more budget) might be sent 
immediately as a response to the request communication 1482AB, 
or it might be sent at a later time as part of a separate 
communication. The response communication, upon being received 
at the distributor's VDE node 106, might be processed using the 
reply process 1475B within the distributor's copy of the BUDGET 
method 1510B. The reply process 1475B might then process the 
additional budget in the same manner as described above. 

The chain of handling and control may, in addition to 
posting budget information, also pass control information that 
governs the manner in which said budget may be utilized. For 
example, the control information specified in the above example 
may also contain control information describing the process and 
limits that apply to the distributor's redistribution of the right to 
use the creator's content object. Thus, when the distributor 
responds to a budget request from a user (a communication 


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between a user at VDE node 112 to the distributor at VDE node 
106 similar in nature to the one described above between VDE 
nodes 106 and 102) using the distribute process 1472B within the 
distributor's copy of the BUDGET method 1510B, a distribution 
and request/response/reply process similar to the one described 
above might be initiated. 

Thus, in this example a single method can provide multiple 
dynamic behaviors based on different "triggering" events. For 
example, single BUDGET method 1510 might support any or all of 
the events listed below: 


Event Type 

Event 

Process Description 

"Use" Events 

use budget 

Use budget. 

Request Events 
Processed by User 
Node Request 
Process 1480c 

request more budget 

Request more money for budget. 

request audit by auditor 
#1 

Request that auditor #1 audit the 
budget use. 


request budget deletion 

Request that budget be deleted from 
system. 


request method updated 

Update method used for auditing. 


request to change auditors 

Change from auditor 1 to auditor 2, 
or vice versa. 


request different audit 
interval 

Change time interval between audits. 


request ability to provide 
budget copies 

Request ability to provide copies of a 
budget. 


request ability to 
distribute budget 

Request ability to distribute a budget 
to other users. 


request account status 

Request information on current status 
of an account. 


Request New Method 

Request new method. 


Request Method Update 

Request update of method. 


432 


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Event Type 

Aveni 

iroctst u Ascription 


Request Method Deletion 

Request deletion of method. 

Response Events 

receive more budget 

Allocate more money to budget. 

Processed by User 
Node Request 

receive method update 

Update method. 

Process 1480C 

I^AAIVA aiinif/t* 

receive auditor cuange 

v^uajige irom one auditor to anotner. 


receive change to audit 

intorval 

Change interval between audits. 


roroivft hurt era t flftlo^ion 

reVClVC UUUgCt UC1CL1UU 



vtwwi/iA mi nit tn Biinifnf 

pruvxuo auiut irV auuiiur 
#1 

rurwaiu aiiuik ixiiuruittuuii iu aumiur 

#1. 


provide audit to auditor 
#2 

Forward audit information to auditor 
#2. 


receive account status 

Provide account status. 


Receive New 

Receive new budget. 


Receive Method Update 

Receive updated information. 


Receive More 

Receive more for budget. 


bent Audit 

Send audit information. 


Perform Deletion 

Delete information. 

Distribute b vents 

Create New 

Create new budget. 


rrovide More 

Provide more for budget. 


Audit 

.rertorm audit. 


Delete 

Delete information. 


Reconcile 

Reconcile budget and auditing. ~ 


Copy 

Copy budget. 


Uistnbute 

Distribute budget. 


Ma^ nod Mndifif*afiAfi 
IMBIrUUU XUOIUUCclUUIl 

XUOCUIjr UeiuDQ. 


Display Method 

Display requested method. 

"Request" Events 

Delete 

Delete information. 

Processed by 
Distributor Node 

Get New 

Get new budget. 

Request Process 
1484B 

Get More 

Get more for budget. 


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Ev«nt Typ« 

Evtnt 

Procasa Daicrintion 

Get Updated 

Get undated informnHnn 

Get Audited 

Get audit information 

"Response Events" 
r zucessea oy 
Distributor Node 
Request Process 
1484B 

Provide New to user 

Provide new budget to user. 

Provide More to user 

Provide more budget to user. 

Provide Update to user 

Provided updated budget to user. 

Audit user 

Audit a specified user. 

Delete user's method 

Delete method belonging to user. 


Examples of Reciprocal Method Processes 


A. BUDGET 

Figures 42a, 42b, 42c and 42d, respectively, are flowcharts of 
example process control steps performed by a representative 
example of BUDGET method 2250 provided by the preferred 
embodiment. In the preferred embodiment, BUDGET method 
2250 may operate in any of four different modes: 
use (see Figure 42a) 
administrative request (see Figure 42b) 
• administrative response (see Figure 42c) 
administrative reply (see Figure 42d). 
In general, the "use" mode of BUDGET method 2250 is invoked in 
response to an event relating to the use of an object or its content. 
The "administrative request" mode of BUDGET method 2250 is 
invoked by or on behalf of the user in response to some user action 
that requires contact with a VDE financial provider, and basically 
its task is to send an administrative request to the VDE financial 
provider. The "administrative response" mode of BUDGET method 
2250 is performed at the VDE financial provider in response to 
receipt of an administrative request sent fit>m a VDE node to the 


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VDE financial provider by the "administrative request" invocation 
of BUDGET method 2250 shown in Figure 42b. The 
"administrative response" invocation of BUDGET method 2250 
results in the transmission of an administrative object from VDE 
financial provider to the VDE user node. Finally, the 
"administrative reply" invocation of BUDGET method 2250 shown 
in Figure 42d is performed at the user VDE node upon receipt of 
the administrative object sent by the "administrative response" 
invocation of the method shown in Figure 42c. 

In the preferred embodiment, the same BUDGET method 
2250 performs each of the four different step sequences shown in 
Figures 42a-42d. In the preferred embodiment, different event 
codes may be passed to the BUDGET method 2250 to invoke these 
various different modes. Of course, it would be possible to use four 
separate BUDGET methods instead of a single BUDGET method 
with four different "dynamic personalities," but the preferred 
embodiment obtains certain advantages by using the same 
BUDGET method for each of these four types of invocations. 

Looking at Figure 42a, the "use" invocation of BUDGET 
method 2250 first primes the Budget Audit Trail (blocks 2252, 
2254). It then obtains the DTD for the Budget UDE, which it uses 
to obtain and read the Budget UDE blocks 2256-2262). BUDGET 
method 2250 in this "use" invocation may then determine whether 
a Budget Audit date has expired, and terminate if it has ("yes" exit 
to decision block 2264; blocks 2266, 2268). So long as the Budget 
Audit date has not expired, the method may then update the 
Budget using the atomic element and event counts (and possibly 


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other information) (blocks 2270, 2272), and may then save a 
Budget User Audit record in a Budget Audit Trail UDE (blocks 
2274, 2276) before terminating (at terminate point 2278). 

Looking at Figure 42b, the first six steps (blocks 2280-2290) 
may be performed by the user VDE node in response to some user 
action (e.g., request to access new information, request for a new 
budget, etc.). This "administrative request" invocation of 
BUDGET method 2250 may prime an audit trail (blocks 2280, 
2282). The method may then place a request for administrative 
processing of an appropriate Budget onto a request queue (blocks 
2284, 2286). Finally, the method may save appropriate audit trail 
information (blocks 2288, 2290). Sometime later, the user VDE 
node may prime a communications audit trail (blocks 2292, 2294), 
and may then write a Budget Administrative Request into an 
administrative object Oriock 2296). This step may obtain 
information from the secure database as needed from such sources 
such as, for example, Budget UDE; Budget Audit Trail UDE(s); 
and Budget Administrative Request Record(s) (block 2298). 

Block 2296 may then communicate the administrative object 
to a VDE financial provider, or alternatively, block 2296 may pass 
administrative object to a separate communications process or 
method that arranges for such communications to occur. If 
desired, method 2250 may then save a communications audit trail 
(blocks 2300, 2302) before terminating (at termination point 2304). 

Figure 42c is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by the example of BUDGET method 2250 


436 


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provided by the preferred embodiment operating in an 
"administrative response" mode. Steps shown in Figure 42c would, 
for example, be performed by a VDE financial provider who has 
received an administrative object containing a Budget 
administrative request as created (and communicated to a VDE 
administrator for example) by Figure 42b (block 2296). 

Upon receiving the administrative object, BUDGET method 
2250 at the VDE financial provider site may prime a budget 
communications and response audit trail (blocks 2306, 2308), and 
may then unpack the administrative object and retrieve the 
budget request(s), audit trail(s) and record(s) it contains (block 
2310). This information retrieved from the administrative object 
may be written by the VDE financial provider into its secure 
database (block 2312). The VDE financial provider may then 
retrieve the budget request(s) and determine the response method 
it needs to execute to process the request (blocks 2314, 2316). 
BUDGET method 2250 may send the event(s) contained in the 
request record(s) to the appropriate response method and may 
generate response records and response requests based on the 
RESPONSE method (block 2318). The process performed by block 
2318 may satisfy the budget request by writing appropriate new 
response records into the VDE financial provider's secure database 
(block 2320). BUDGET method 2250 may then write these Budget 
administrative response records into an administrative object 
(blocks 2322, 2324), which it may then communicate back to the 
user node that initiated the budget request. BUDGET method 
2250 may then save communications and response processing 


437 


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* 


audit trail information into appropriate audit trail UDE(s) (blocks 
2326, 2328) before terminating (at termination point 2330). 

Figure 42d is a flowchart of an example of program control 
steps performed by a representative example of BUDGET method 
2250 operating in an "administrative reply" mode. Steps shown in 
Figure 42d might be performed, for example, by a VDE user node 
upon receipt of an administrative object containing budget-related 
information. BUDGET method 2250 may first prime a Budget 
administrative and communications audit trail (blocks 2332, 2334) 
BUDGET method 2250 may then extract records and requests 
from a received administrative object and write the reply record to 
the VDE secure database (blocks 2336, 2338). The VDE user node 
may then save budget administrative and communications audit 
trail information in an appropriate audit trail UDE(s) (blocks 
2340, 2341). 

Sometime later, the VDE user node may retrieve the reply 
record from the secure database and determine what method is 
required to process it (blocks 2344, 2346). The VDE user node 
may, optionally, prime an audit trail (blocks 2342, 2343) to record 
the results of the processing of the reply event. The BUDGET 
method 2250 may then send event(s) contained in the reply 
record(s) to the REPLY method, and may generate/update the 
secure database records as necessary to, for example, insert new 
budget records, delete old budget records and/or apply changes to 
budget records (blocks 2348, 2350). BUDGET method 2250 may 
then delete the reply record from the secure data base (blocks 


438 


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2352, 2353) before writing the audit trail (if required) (blocks 
2354m 2355) terminating (at terminate point 2356). 

B. REGISTER 

Figures 43a-43d are flowcharts of an example of program 
control steps performed by a representative example of a 
REGISTER method 2400 provided by the preferred embodiment. 
In this example, the REGISTER method 2400 performs the 
example steps shown in Figure 43a when operating in a "use" 
mode, performs the example steps shown in Figure 43b when 
operating in an "administrative request" mode, performs the steps 
shown in Figure 43c when operating in an "administrative 
response" mode, and performs the steps shown in Figure 43d when 
operating in an "administrative reply" mode. 

The steps shown in Figure 43a may be, for example, 
performed at a user VDE node in response to some action by or on 
behalf of the user. For example the user may ask to access an 
object that has not yet been (or is not now) properly registered to 
her. In response to such a user request, the REGISTER method 
2400 may prime a Register Audit Trail UDE (blocks 2402, 2404) 
before determining whether the object being requested has already 
been registered (decision block 2406). If the object has already 
been registered ("yes a exit to decision block 2406), the REGISTER 
method may terminate (at termination point 2408). If the object is 
not already registered ("no" exit to decision block 2406), then 
REGISTER method 2400 may access the VDE node secure 
database PERC 808 and/or Register MDE (block 2410). 
REGISTER method 2400 may extract an appropriate Register 


439 


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Record Set from this PERC 808 and/or Register MDE (block 2412), 
and determine whether all of the required elements are present 
that are needed to register the object (decision block 2414). If 
some piece(s) is missing ("no" exit to decision block 2414), 
REGISTER method 2400 may queue a Register request record to a 
communication manager and then suspend the REGISTER method 
until the queued request is satisfied (blocks 2416, 2418). Block 
2416 may have the effect of communicating a register request to a 
VDE distributor, for example. When the request is satisfied and 
the register request record has been received (block 2420), then 
the test of decision block 2414 is satisfied ("yes" exit to decision 
block 2414), and REGISTER method 2400 may proceed. At this 
stage, the REGISTER method 2400 may allow the user to select 
Register options from the set of method options allowed by PERC 
808 accessed at block 2410 (block 2422). As one simple example, 
the PERC 808 may permit the user to pay by VISA or MasterCard 
but not by American Express; block 2422 may display a prompt 
asking the user to select between paying using her VISA card and 
paying using her MasterCard (block 2424). The REGISTER 
method 2400 preferably validates the user selected registration 
options and requires the user to select different options if the 
initial user options were invalid (block 2426, "no" exit to decision 
block 2428). Once the user has made all required registration 
option selections and those selections have been validated ("yes" 
exit to decision block 2428), the REGISTER method 2400 may 
write an User Registration Table (URT) corresponding to this 
object and this user which embodies the user registration 
selections made by the user along with other registration 
information required by PERC 808 and/or the Register MDE 


440 


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(blocks 2430, 2432). REGISTER method 2400 may then write a 
Register audit record into the secure database (blocks 2432, 2434) 
before terminating (at terminate point 2436). 

Figure 43b shows an example of an "administrative request" 
mode of REGISTER method 2400. This Administrative Request 
Mode may occur on a VDE user system to generate an appropriate 
administrative object for communication to a VDE distributor or 
other appropriate VDE participant requesting registration 
information. Thus, for example, the steps shown in Figure 43b 
may be performed as part of the "queue register request record" 
block 2416 shown in Figure 43a. To make a Register 
administrative request, REGISTER method 2400 may first prime a 
communications audit trail (blocks 2440, 2442), and then access 
the secure database to obtain data about registration (block 2444). 
This secure database access may, for example, allow the owner 
and/or publisher of the object being registered to find out 
demographic, user or other information about the user. As a 
specific example, suppose that the object being registered is a 
spreadsheet software program. The distributor of the object may 
want to know what other software the user has registered. For 
example, the distributor may be willing to give preferential pricing 
if the user registers a "suite" of multiple software products 
distributed by the same distributor. Thus, the sort of information 
solicited by a "user registration* card enclosed with most standard 
software packages may be solicited and automatically obtained by 
the preferred embodiment at registration time. In order to protect 
the privacy rights of the user, REGISTER method 2400 may pass 
such user-specific data through a privacy filter that may be at 


441 


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least in part customized by the user so the user can prevent 
certain information from being revealed to the outside world (block 
2446). The REGISTER method 2400 may write the resulting 
infonnr tion along with appropriate Register Request information 
identifying the object and other appropriate parameters into an 
administrative object (blocks 2448, 2450). REGISTER method 
2400 may then pass this administrative object to a 
communications handler. REGISTER method 2400 may then save 
a communications audit trail (blocks 2452, 2454) before 
terminating (at terminate point 2456). 

Figure 43c includes REGISTER method 2400 steps that may 
be performed by a VDE distributor node upon receipt of Register 
Administrative object sent by block 2448, Figure 43b. REGISTER 
method 2400 in this "administrative response" mode may prime 
appropriate audit trails (blocks 2460, 2462), and then may unpack 
the received administrative object and write the associated register 
request(s) configuration information into the secure database 
(blocks 2464, 2466). REGISTER method 2400 may then retrieve 
the administrative request from the secure database and 
determine which response method to run to process the request 
(blocks 2468, 2470). If the user fails to provide sufficient 
information to register the object, REGISTER method 2400 may 
fail (blocks 2472, 2474). Otherwise, REGISTER method 2400 may 
send event(s) contained in the appropriate request record(s) to the 
appropriate response method, and generate and write response 
records and response requests (e.g., PERC(s) and/or UDEs) to the 
secure database (blocks 2476, 2478). REGISTER method 2400 
may then write the appropriate Register administrative response 


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record into an administrative object (blocks 2480, 2482). Such 
information may include, for example, one or more replacement 
PERC(s) 808, methods, UDE(s), etc. (block 2482). This enables, for 
example, a distributor to distribute limited right permissions 
giving users only enough information to register an object, and 
then later, upon registration, replacing the limited right 
permissions with wider permissioning scope granting the user 
more complete access to the objects. REGISTER method 2400 may 
then save the communications and response processing audit trail 
(blocks 2484, 2486), before terminating (at terminate point 2488). 

Figure 43d shows steps that may be performed by the VDE 
user node upon receipt of the administrative object 
generated/transmitted by Figure 43c block 2480. The steps shown 
in Figure 43d are very similar to those shown in Figure 42d for 
the BUDGET method administrative reply process. 

C. AUDIT 

Figures 44a-44c are flowcharts of examples of program 
control steps performed by a representative example of an AUDIT 
method 2520 provided by the preferred embodiment. As in the 
examples above, the AUDIT method 2520 provides three different 
operational modes in this preferred embodiment example: Figure 
44a shows the steps performed by the AUDIT method in an 
"administrative request* mode; Figure 44b shows steps performed 
by the method in the "administrative response 41 mode; and 
Figure 44c shows the steps performed by the method in an 
"administrative reply" mode. 


443 


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The AUDIT method 2520 operating in the "administrative 
request" mode as shown in Figure 44a is typically performed, for 
example, at a VDE user node based upon some request by or on 
behalf of the use,. For example, the user may have requested an 
audit, or a timer may have expired that initiates communication of 
audit information to a VDE content provider or other VDE 
participant. In the preferred embodiment, different audits of the 
same overall process may be performed by different VDE 
participants. A particular "audit" method 2520 invocation may be 
initiated for any one (or all) of the involved VDE participants. 
Upon invocation of AUDIT method 2520, the method may prime 
an audit administrative audit trail (thus, in the preferred 
embodiment, the audit processing may itself be audited) (blocks 
2522, 2524). The AUDIT method 2520 may then queue a request 
for administrative processing (blocks 2526, 2528), and then may 
save the audit administrative audit trail in the secure database 
(blocks 2530, 2532). Sometime later, AUDIT method 2520 may 
prime a communications audit trail (blocks 2534, 2536), and may 
then write Audit A<iministrative Requests) into one or more 
administrative object(s) based on specific UDE, audit trail UDE(s), 
and/or administrative record(s) stored in the secure database 
(blocks 2538, 2540). The AUDIT method 2520 may then save 
appropriate information into the communications audit trail 
(blocks 2542, 2544) before terminating (at terminate point 2546). 

Figure 44b shows example steps performed by a VDE 
content provider, financial provider or other auditing VDE node 
upon receipt of the administrative object generated and 
communicated by Figure 44a block 2538. The AUDIT method 


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2520 in this "administrative response" mode may first prime an 
Audit communications and response audit trail (blocks 2550, 
2552), and may then unpack the received administrative object 
and retrieve its contained Audit request(s) audit trail(s) and audit 
record(s) for storage into the secured database (blocks 2554, 2556). 
AUDIT method 2520 may then retrieve the audit request(s) from 
the secure database and determine the response method to run to 
process the request (blocks 2558, 2560). AUDIT method 2520 may 
at this stage send event(s) contained in the request record(s) to the 
appropriate response method, and generate response record(s) and 
requests based on this method (blocks 2562, 2564). The processing 
block 2562 may involve a communication to the outside world. 

For example, AUDIT method 2520 at this point could call an 
external process to perform, for example, an electronic funds 
transfer against the user's bank account or some other bank 
account. The AUDIT administrative response can, if desired, call 
an external process that interfaces VDE to one or more existing 
computer systems. The external process could be passed the user's 
account number, PIN, dollar amount, or any other information 
configured in, or associated with, the VDE audit trail being 
processed. The external process can communicate with non-VDE 
hosts and use the information passed to it as part of these 
communications. For example, the external process could generate 
automated clearinghouse (ACH) records in a file for submittal to a 
bank. This mechanism would provide the ability to automatically 
credit or debit a bank account in any financial institution. The 
same mechanism could be used to communicate with the existing 


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credit card (e.g. VISA) network by submitting VDE based charges 
against the charge account. 

Once the appropriate Audit response record(s) have been 
generated, AUDIT method 2520 may write an Audit 
administrative record(s) into an administrative object for 
communication back to the VDE user node that generated the 
Audit request (blocks 2566, 2568). The AUDIT method 2520 may 
then save communications and response processing audit 
information in appropriate audit trail(s) (blocks 2570, 2572) before 
terminating (at terminate point 2574). 

Figure 44c shows an example of steps that may be 
performed by the AUDIT method 2520 back at the VDE user node 
upon receipt of the administrative object generated and sent by 
Figure 44b, block 2566. The steps 2580-2599 shown in Figure 44c 
are similar to the steps shown in Figure 43d for the REGISTER 
method 2400 in the "administrative reply" mode. Briefly, these 
steps involve receiving and extracting appropriate response 
records from the administrative object (block 2584), and then 
processing the received information appropriately to update secure 
database records and perform any other necessary actions (blocks 
2595, 2596). 

Examples of Event-Driven Content-Based Methods 

VDE methods 1000 are designed to provide a very flexible 
and highly modular approach to secure processing. A complete 
VDE process to service a "use event" may typically be constructed 
as a combination of methods 1000. As one example, the typical 


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process for reading content or other information from an object 300 
may involve the following methods: 

an EVENT method 

a METER method 

a BILLING method 

a BUDGET method. 

Figure 45 is an example of a sequential series of methods 
performed by VDE 100 in response to an event. In this example, 
when an event occurs, an EVENT method 402 may "qualify" the 
event to determine whether it is significant or not. Not all events 
are significant. For example, if the EVENT method 1000 in a 
control process dictates that usage is to be metered based upon 
number of pages read, then user request "events" for reading less 
than a page of information may be ignored. In another example, if 
a system event represents a request to read a certain number of 
bytes, and the EVENT method 1000 is part of a control process 
designed to meter paragraphs, then the EVENT method may 
evaluate the read request to determine how many paragraphs are 
represented in the bytes requested. This process may involve 
mapping to "atomic elements" to be discussed in more detail below. 

EVENT method 402 filters out events that are not 
significant with regard to the specific control method involved. 
EVENT method 402 may pass on qualified events to a METER 
process 1404, which meters or discards the event based on its own 
particular criteria. 


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In addition, the preferred embodiment provides an 
optimization called "precheck." EVENT method/process 402 may 
perform this "precheck" based on metering, billing and budget 
information to determine whether proc ssing based on an event 
will be allowed. Suppose, for example, that the user has already 
exceeded her budget with respect to accessing certain information 
content so that no further access is permitted. Although BUDGET 
method 408 could make this determination, records and processes 
performed by BUDGET method 404 and/or BILLING method 406 
might have to be "undone* to, for example, prevent the user from 
being charged for an access that was actually denied. It may be 
more efficient to perform a "precheck" within EVENT method 402 
so that fewer transactions have to be "undone" 

METER method 404 may store an audit record in a meter 
"trail" UDE 1200, for example, and may also record information 
related to the event in a meter UDE 1200. For example, METER 
method 404 may increment or decrement a "meter* value within a 
meter UDE 1200 each time content is accessed. The two different 
data structures (meter UDE and meter trail UDE) may be 
maintained to permit record keeping for reporting purposes to be 
maintained separately from record keeping for internal operation 
purposes, for example. 

Once the event is metered by METER method 404, the 
metered event may be processed by a BILLING method 406. 
BILLING method 406 determines how much budget is consumed 
by the event, and keeps records that are useful for reconciliation of 
meters and budgets. Thus, for example, BILLING method 406 


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may read budget information from a budget UDE, record billing 
information in a billing UDE, and write one or more audit records 
in a billing trail UDE. While some billing trail information may 
duplicate meter and/or budget trail information, the billing trail 
information is useful, for example, to allow a content creator 102 
to expect a payment of a certain size, and serve as a reconciliation 
check to reconcile meter trail information sent to creator 102 with 
budget trail information sent to, for example, an independent 
budget provider. 

BILLING method 406 may then pass the event on to a 
BUDGET method 408. BUDGET method 408 sets limits and 
records transactional information associated with those limits. For 
example, BUDGET method 408 may store budget information in a 
budget UDE, and may store an audit record in a budget trail UDE. 
BUDGET method 408 may result in a "budget remaining" field in 
a budget UDE being decremented by an amount specified by 
BILLING method 406. 

The information content may be released, or other action 
taken, once the various methods 402, 404, 406, 408 have processed 
the event. 

As mentioned above, PERCs 808 in the preferred 
embodiment may be provided with "control methods* that in effect 
"oversee" performance of the other required methods in a control 
process. Figure 46 shows how the required methods/processes 402, 
404, 406, and 408 of Figure 45 can be organized and controlled by 
a control method 410. Control method 410 may call, dispatch 


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events, or otherwise invoke the other methods 402, 404, 406, 408 
and otherwise supervise the processing performed in response to 
an "event." 

Control methods operate at the level of control sets 906 
within PERCs 808. They provide structure, logic, and flow of 
control between disparate acquired methods 1000. This 
mechanism permits the content provider to create any desired 
chain of processing, and also allows the specific chain of processing 
to be modified (within permitted limits) by downstream 
redistributors. This control structure concept provides great 
flexibility. 

Figure 47 shows an example of an "aggregate" method 412 
which collects METER method 404, BUDGET method 406 and 
BILLING method 408 into an "aggregate" processing flow. 
Aggregate method 412 may, for example, combine various 
elements of metering, budgeting and billing into a single method 
1000. Aggregate method 412 may provide increased efficiency as a 
result of processing METER method 404, BUDGET method 406 
and BILLING method 408 aggregately, but may decrease 
flexibility because of decreased modularity. 

Many different methods can be in effect simultaneously. 
Figure 48 shows an example of preferred embodiment event 
processing using multiple METER methods 404 and multiple 
BUDGET methods 1408. Some events may be subject to many 
different required methods operating independently or 
cumulatively. For example, in the example shown in Figure 48, 


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meter method 404a may maintain meter trail and meter 
information records that are independent from the meter trail and 
meter information records maintained by METER method 404b. 
Similarly, BUDGET method 408a may maintain records 
independently of those records maintained by BUDGET method 
408b. Some events may bypass BILLING method 408 while 
nevertheless being processed by meter method 404a and BUDGET 
method 408a. A variety of different variations are possible. 

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLES OF VDE METHODS 

Although methods 1000 can have virtually unlimited variety 
and some may even be user-defined, certain basic "use* type 
methods are preferably used in the preferred embodiment to 
control most of the more fundamental object manipulation and 
other functions provided by YDE 100. For example, the following 
high level methods would typically be provided for object 
manipulation: 

OPEN method 

READ method 

WRITE method 

CLOSE method. 

An OPEN method is used to control opening a container so 
its contents may be accessed. A READ method is used to control 
the access to contents in a container. A WRITE method is used to 
control the insertion of contents into a container. A CLOSE 
method is used to close a container that has been opened. 


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Subsidiary methods are provided to perform some of the 
steps required by the OPEN, READ, WRITE and/or CLOSE 
methods. Such subsidiary methods may include the following: 

ACCESS method 

PANIC method 

ERROR method 

DECRYPT method 

ENCRYPT method 

DESTROY content method 

INFORMATION method 

OBSCURE method 

FINGERPRINT method 

EVENT method. 

CONTENT method 

EXTRACT method 

EMBED method 

METER method 

BUDGET method 

REGISTER method 

BILLING method 

AUDIT method 

An ACCESS method may be used to physically access 
content associated with an opened container (the content can be 
anywhere). A PANIC method may be used to disable at least a 
portion of the VDE node if a security violation is detected. An 
ERROR method may be used to handle error conditions. A 
DECRYPT method is used to decrypt encrypted information. An 
ENCRYPT method is used to encrypt information. A DESTROY 


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content method is used to destroy the ability to access specific 
content within a container. An INFORMATION method is used to 
provide public information about the contents of a container. An 
OBSCURE method is used to devalue content read from an opened 
container (e.g., to write the word "SAMPLE" over a displayed 
image). A FINGERPRINT method is used to mark content to 
show who has released it from the secure container. An event 
method is used to convert events into different events for response 
by other methods. 

Open 

Figure 49 is a flowchart of an example of preferred 
embodiment process control steps for an example of an OPEN 
method 1500. Different OPEN methods provide different detailed 
steps. However, the OPEN method shown in Figure 49 is a 
representative example of a relatively full-featured "open" method 
provided by the preferred embodiment. Figure 49 shows a 
macroscopic view of the OPEN method. Figures 49a-49f are 
together an example of detailed program controlled steps 
performed to implement the method shown in Figure 49. 

The OPEN method process starts with an "open event." 
This open event may be generated by a user application, an 
operating system intercept or various other mechanisms for 
capturing or intercepting control. For example, a user application 
may issue a request for access to a particular content stored 
within the VDE container. As another example, another method 
may issue a command. 


453 


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In the example shown, the open event is processed by a 
control method 1502. Control method 1502 may call other 
methods to process the event. For example, control method 1502 
may call an EVENT method 1504, a METER method 1506, a 
BILLING method 1508, and a BUDGET method 1510. Not all 
OPEN control methods necessarily call of these additional 
methods, but the OPEN method 1500 shown in Figure 49 is a 
representative example. 

Control method 1502 passes a description of the open event 
to EVENT method 1504. EVENT method 1504 may determine, for 
example, whether the open event is permitted and whether the 
open event is significant in the sense that it needs to be processed 
by METER method 1506, BILLING method 1508, and/or BUDGET 
method 1510. EVENT method 1504 may maintain audit trail 
information within an audit trail UDE, and may determine 
permissions and significance of the event by using an Event 
Method Data Element (MDE). EVENT method 1504 may also 
map the open event into an "atomic element" and count that may 
be processed by METER method 1506, BILLING method 1508, 
and/or BUDGET method 1510. 

In OPEN method 1500, once EVENT method 1504 has been 
called and returns successfully, control method 1502 then may call 
METER method 1506 and pass the METER method, the atomic 
element and count returned by EVENT method 1504. METER 
method 1506 may maintain audit trail information in a METER 
method Audit Trail UDE, and may also maintain meter 
information in a METER method UDE. In the preferred 


454 


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embodiment, METER method 1506 returns a meter value to 
control method 1502 assuming successful completion. 

In the preferred embodiment, control method 1502 upon 
receiving an indication that METER method 1506 has completed 
successfully, then calls BILLING method 1508. Control method 
1502 may pass to BILLING method 1508 the meter value provided 
by METER method 1506. BILLING method 1508 may read and 
update billing information maintained in a BILLING method map 
MDE, and may also maintain and update audit trail in a BILLING 
method Audit Trail UDE. BILLING method 1508 may return a 
billing amount and a completion code to control method 1502. 

Assuming BILLING method 1508 completes successfully, 
control method 1502 may pass the billing value provided by 
BILLING method 1508 to BUDGET method 1510. BUDGET 
method 1510 may read and update budget information within a 
BUDGET method UDE, and may also maintain audit trail 
information in a BUDGET method Audit Trail UDE. BUDGET 
method 1510 may return a budget value to control method 1502, 
and may also return a completion code indicating whether the 
open event exceeds the user's budget (for this type of event). 

Upon completion of BUDGET method 1510, control method 
1502 may create a channel and establish read/use control 
information in preparation for subsequent calls to the READ 
method. 


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Figures 49a-49f are a more detailed description of the OPEN 
method 1500 example shown in Figure 49. Referring to Figure 
49a, in response to an open event, control method 1502 first may 
determine the identification of the object to be opened and the 
identification of the user that has requested the object to be 
opened (block 1520). Control method 1502 then determines 
whether the object to be opened is registered for this user (decision 
block 1522). It makes this determination at least in part in the 
preferred embodiment by reading the PERC 808 and the User 
Rights Table (URT) element associated with the particular object 
and particular user determined by block 1520 (block 1524). If the 
user is not registered for this particular object Cno a exit to 
decision block 1522), then control method 1502 may call the 
REGISTER method for the object and restart the OPEN method 
1500 once registration is complete (block 1526). The REGISTER 
method block 1526 may be an independent process and may be 
time independent. It may, for example, take a relatively long time 
to complete the REGISTER method (say if the VDE distributor or 
other participant responsible for providing registration wants to 
perform a credit check on the user before registering the user for 
this particular object). 

Assuming the proper URT for this user and object is present 
such that the object is registered for this user Cyes" exit to 
decision block 1522), control method 1502 may determine whether 
the object is already open for this user (decision block 1528). This 
test may avoid creating a redundant channel for opening an object 
that is already open. Assuming the object is not already open 
(W exit to decision block 1528), control method 1502 creates a 


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channel and binds appropriate open control elements to it (block 
1530). It reads the appropriate open control elements from the 
secure database (or the container, such as, for example, in the case 
of a travelling object), and "binds" or "links" these particular 
appropriate control elements together in order to control opening 
of the object for this user. Thus, block 1530 associates an event 
with one or more appropriate method core(s), appropriate load 
modules, appropriate User Data Elements, and appropriate 
Method Data Elements read from the secure database (or the 
container) (block 1532). At this point, control method 1502 
specifies the open event (which started the OPEN method to begin 
with), the object ID and user ID (determined by block 1520), and 
the channel ID of the channel created by block 1530 to subsequent 
EVENT method 1504, METER method 1506, BILLING method 
1508 and BUDGET method 1510 to provide a secure database 
"transaction" (block 1536). Before doing so, control method 1502 
may prime an audit process (block 1533) and write audit 
information into an audit UDE (block 1534) so a record of the 
transaction exists even if the transaction fails or is interfered with. 

The detail steps performed by EVENT method 1504 are set 
forth on Figure 49b. EVENT method 1504 may first prime an 
event audit trail if required (block 1538) which may write to an 
EVENT Method Audit Trail UDE (block 1540). EVENT method 
1504 may then perform the step of mapping the open event to an 
atomic element number and event count using a map MDE (block 
1542). The EVENT method map MDE may be read from the 
secure database (block 1544). This mapping process performed by 
block 1542 may, for example, determine whether or not the open 


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event is meterable, billable, or budgetable, and may transform the 
open event into some discrete atomic element for metering, billing 
and/or budgeting. As one example, block 1542 might perform a 
one-to-one mapping between open events and "open" atomic 
elements, or it may only provide an open atomic element for every 
fifth time that the object is opened. The map block 1542 
preferably returns the open event, the event count, the atomic 
element number, the object ID, and the user ID. This information 
may be written to the EVENT method Audit Trail UDE (block 
1546, 1548). In the preferred embodiment, a test (decision block 
1550) is then performed to determine whether the EVENT method 
failed. Specifically, decision block 1550 may determine whether an 
atomic element number was generated. If no atomic element 
number was generated (e.g., meaning that the open event is not 
significant for processing by METER method 1506, BILLING 
method 1508 and/or BUDGET method 1510), then EVENT method 
1504 may return a "fail" completion code to control method 1502 
("no" exit to decision block 1550). 

Control method 1502 tests the completion code returned by 
EVENT method 1504 to determine whether it failed or was 
successful (decision block 1552). If the EVENT method failed ("no" 
exit to decision block 1552), control method 1502 may "roll back" 
the secure database transaction (block 1554) and return itself with 
an indication that the OPEN method failed (block 1556). In this 
context, "rolling back" the secure database transaction means, for 
example, "undoing" the changes made to audit trail UDE by blocks 
1540, 1548. However, this "roll back" performed by block 1554 in 


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the preferred embodiment does not n undo a the changes made to 
the control method audit UDE by blocks 1532, 1534. 

Assuming the EVENT method 1504 completed successfully, 
control method 1502 then calls the METER method 1506 shown on 
Figure 49c. In the preferred embodiment, METER method 1506 
primes the meter audit trail if required (block 1558), which 
typically involves writing to a METER method audit trail UDE 
(block 1560). METER method 1506 may then read a METER 
method UDE from the secure database (block 1562), modify the 
meter UDE by adding an appropriate event count to the meter 
value contained in the meter UDE (block 1564), and then writing 
the modified meter UDE back to the secure database (block 1562). 
In other words, block 1564 may read the meter UDE, increment 
the meter count it contains, and write the changed meter UDE 
back to the secure database. In the preferred embodiment, 
METER method 1506 may then write meter audit trail 
information to the METER method audit trail UDE if required 
(blocks 1566, 1568). METER method 1506 preferably next 
performs a test to determine whether the meter increment 
succeeded (decision block 1570). METER method 1506 returns to 
control method 1502 with a completion code (e.g., succeed or fail) 
and a meter value determined by block 1564. 

Control method 1502 tests whether the METER method 
succeeded by examining the completion code, for example (decision 
block 1572). If the METER method failed Cno* exit to decision 
block 1572), then control method 1502 "rolls back* a secure 
database transaction (block 1574), and returns with an indication 


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that the OPEN method failed (block 1576). Assuming the METER 
method succeeded ("yes" exit to decision block 1572), control 
method 1502 calls the BILLING method 1508 and passes it the 
meter value provided by METER method 1506. 

An example of steps performed by BILLING method 1508 is 
set forth in Figure 49d. BILLING method 1508 may prime a 
billing audit trail if required (block 1578) by writing to a BILLING 
method Audit Trail UDE within the secure database (block 1580). 
BILLING method 1508 may then map the atomic element number, 
count and meter value to a billing amount using a BILLING 
method map MDE read from the secure database (blocks 1582, 
1584). Providing an independent BILLING method map MDE 
containing, for example, price list information, allows separately 
deliverable pricing for the billing process. The resulting billing 
amount generated by block 1582 may be written to the BILLING 
method Audit Trail UDE (blocks 1586, 1588), and may also be 
returned to control method 1502. In addition, BILLING method 
1508 may determine whether a billing amount was properly 
selected by block 1582 (decision block 1590). In this example, the 
test performed by block 1590 generally requires more than mere 
examination of the returned billing amount, since the billing 
amount may be changed in unpredictable ways as specified by 
BILLING method map MDE. Control then returns to control 
method 1502, which tests the completion code provided by 
BILLING method 1508 to determine whether the BILLING 
method succeeded or failed (block 1592). If the BILLING method 
failed ("no" exit to decision block 1592), control method 1502 may 
"roll back" the secure database transaction (block 1594), and 


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return an indication that the OPEN method failed (block 1596). 
Assuming the test performed by decision block 1592 indicates that 
the BILLING method succeeded Cyes a exit to decision block 1592), 
then control method 1502 may call BUDGET method 1510. 

Other BILLING methods may use site, user and/or usage 
information to establish, for example, pricing information. For 
example, information concerning the presence or absence of an 
object may be used in establishing "suite" purchases, competitive 
discounts, etc. Usage levels may be factored into a BILLING 
method to establish price breaks for different levels of usage. A 
currency translation feature of a BILLING method may allow 
purchases and/or pricing in many different currencies. Many other 
possibilities exist for determining an amount of budget consumed 
by an event that may be incorporated into BILLING methods. 

An example of detailed control steps performed by BUDGET 
method 1510 is set forth in Figure 49e. BUDGET method 1510 
may prime a budget audit trail if required by writing to a budget 
trail UDE (blocks 1598, 1600). BUDGET method 1510 may next 
perform a billing operation by adding a billing amount to a budget 
value (block 1602). This operation may be performed, for example, 
by reading a BUDGET method UDE from the secure database, 
modifying it, and writing it back to the secure database (block 
1604). BUDGET method 1510 may then write the budget audit 
trail information to the BUDGET method Audit Trail UDE (blocks 
1606, 1608). BUDGET method 1510 may finally, in this example, 
determine whether the user has run out of budget by determining 
whether the budget value calculated by block 1602 is out of range 


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(decision block 1610). If the user has run out of budget ("yes" exit 
to decision block 1610), the BUDGET method 1510 may return a 
"fail completion" code to control method 1502. BUDGET method 
1510 then returns to control method 1502, which tests whether the 
BUDGET method completion code was successful (decision block 
1612). If the BUDGET method failed ("no" exit to decision block 
1612), control method 1502 may "roll back" the secure database 
transaction and itself return with an indication that the OPEN 
method failed (blocks 1614, 1616). Assuming control method 1502 
determines that the BUDGET method was successful, the control 
method may perform the additional steps shown on Figure 49f. 
For example, control method 1502 may write an open audit trail if 
required by writing audit information to the audit UDE that was 
primed at block 1532 (blocks 1618, 1620). Control method 1502 
may then establish a read event processing (block 1622), using the 
User Right Table and the PERC associated with the object and 
user to establish the channel (block 1624). This channel may 
optionally be shared between users of the VDE node 600, or may 
be used only by a specified user. 

Control method 1502 then, in the preferred embodiment, 
tests whether the read channel was established successfully 
(decision block 1626). If the read channel was not successfully 
established ("no" exit to decision block 1626), control method 1502 
"rolls back" the secured database transaction and provides an 
indication that the OPEN method failed (blocks 1628, 1630). 
Assuming the read channel was successfully established ("yes" exit 
to decision block 1626), control method 1502 may "commit" the 
secure database transaction (block 1632). This step of 


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"committing" the secure database transaction in the preferred 
embodiment involves, for example, deleting intermediate values 
associated with the secure transaction that has just been 
performed and, in one example, writing changed UDEs and MDEs 
to the secure database. It is generally not possible to "roll back" a 
secure transaction once it has been committed by block 1632. 
Then, control method 1502 may "tear down" the channel for open 
processing (block 1634) before terminating (block 1636). In some 
arrangements, such as multi-tasking VDE node environments, the 
open channel may be constantly maintained and available for use 
by any OPEN method that starts. In other implementations, the 
channel for open processing may be rebuilt and restarted each 
time an OPEN method starts. 

Read 

Figure 50, 50a-50f show examples of process control steps for 
performing a representative example of a READ method 1650. 
Comparing Figure 50 with Figure 49 reveals that the same overall 
high level processing may typically be performed for READ 
method 1650 as was described in connection with OPEN method 
1500. Thus, READ method 1650 may call a control method 1652 
in response to a read event, the control method in turn invoking 
an EVENT method 1654, a METER method 1656, a BILLING 
method 1658 and a BUDGET method 1660. In the preferred 
embodiment, READ control method 1652 may request methods to 
fingerprint and/or obscure content before releasing the decrypted 
content. 


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Figures 50a-50e are similar to Figures 49a-49e. Of course, 
even though the same user data elements may be used for both 
the OPEN method 1500 and the READ method 1650, the method 
data elements for the READ method may be completely different, 
and in addition, the user data elements may provide different 
auditing, metering, billing and/or budgeting criteria for read as 
opposed to open processing. 

Referring to Figure 50f, the READ control method 1652 
must determine which key to use to decrypt content if it is going 
to release decrypted content to the user (block 1758). READ 
control method 1652 may make this key determination based, in 
part, upon the PERC 808 for the object (block 1760). READ 
control method 1652 may then call an ACCESS method to actually 
obtain the encrypted content to be decrypted (block 1762). The 
content is then decrypted using the key determined by block 1758 
(block 1764). READ control method 1652 may then determine 
whether a "fingerprint* is desired (decision block 1766). If 
fingerprinting of the content is desired Cyes" exit of decision block 
1766), READ control method 1652 may call the FINGERPRINT 
method (block 1768). Otherwise, READ control method 1652 may 
determine whether it is desired to obscure the decrypted content 
(decision block 1770). If so, READ control method 1652 may call 
an OBSCURE method to perform this function (block 1772). 
Finally, READ control method 1652 may commit the secure 
database transaction (block 1774), optionally tear down the read 
channel (not shown), and terminate (block 1776). 


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Write 

Figures 51, 51a-51f are flowcharts of examples of process 
control steps used to perform a representative example of a 
WRITE method 1780 in the preferred embodiment. WRITE 
method 1780 uses a control method 1782 to call an EVENT 
method 1784, METER method 1786, BILLING method 1788, and 
BUDGET method 1790 in this example. Thus, writing information 
into a container (either by overwriting information already stored 
in the container or adding new information to the container) in the 
preferred embodiment may be metered, billed and/or budgeted in a 
manner similar to the way opening a container and reading from a 
container can be metered, billed and budgeted. As shown in 
Figure 51, the end result of WRITE method 1780 is typically to 
encrypt content, update the container table of contents and related 
information to reflect the new content, and write the content to the 
object. 

Figure 51a for the WRITE control method 1782 is similar to 
Figure 49a and Figure 50a for the OPEN control method and the 
READ control method, respectively. However, Figure 51b is 
slightly different from its open and read counterparts. In 
particular, block 1820 is performed if the WRITE EVENT method 
1784 fails. This block 1820 updates the EVENT method map 
MDE to reflect new data. This is necessary to allow information 
written by block 1810 to be read by Figure 51b READ method 
block 1678 based on the same (but now updated) EVENT method 
map MDE. 


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Looking at Figure 51f, once the EVENT, METER, BILLING 
and BUDGET methods have returned successfully to WRITE 
control method 1782, the WRITE control method writes audit 
infc, .nation to Audit UDE (blocks 1890, 1892), and then 
determines (based on the PERC for the object and user and an 
optional algorithm) which key should be used to encrypt the 
content before it is written to the container (blocks 1894, 1896). 
CONTROL method 1782 then encrypts the content (block 1898) 
possibly by calling an ENCRYPT method, and writes the encrypted 
content to the object (block 1900). CONTROL method 1782 may 
then update the table of contents (and related information) for the 
container to reflect the newly written information (block 1902), 
commit the secure database transaction (block 1904), and return 
(block 1906). 

Close 

Figure 52 is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps to perform a representative example of a CLOSE method 
1920 in the preferred embodiment. CLOSE method 1920 is used 
to close an open object. In the preferred embodiment, CLOSE 
method 1920 primes an audit trail and writes audit information to 
an Audit UDE (blocks 1922, 1924). CLOSE method 1920 then 
may destroy the current channel(s) being used to support and/or 
process one or more open objects (block 1926). As discussed above, 
in some (e.g., multi-user or multi-tasking) installations, the step of 
destroying a channel is not needed because the channel may be 
left operating for processing additional objects for the same or 
different users. CLOSE method 1920 also releases appropriate 
records and resources associated with the object at this time (block 


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1926). The CLOSE method 1920 may then write an audit trail (if 
required) into an Audit UDE (blocks 1928, 1930) before 
completing. 

Event 

Figure 53a is a flowchart of example process control steps 
provided by a more general example of an EVENT method 1940 
provided by the preferred embodiment. Examples of EVENT 
methods are set forth in Figures 49b, 50b and 51b and are 
described above. EVENT method 1940 shown in Figure 53a is 
somewhat more generalized than the examples above. Like the 
EVENT method examples above, EVENT method 1940 receives an 
identification of the event along with an event count and event 
parameters. EVENT method 1940 may first prime an EVENT 
audit trail (if required) by writing appropriate information to an 
EVENT method Audit Trail UDE (blocks 1942, 1944). EVENT 
method 1940 may then obtain and load an EVENT method map 
DTD from the secure database (blocks 1946, 1948). This EVENT 
method map DTD describes, in this example, the format of the 
EVENT method map MDE to be read and accessed immediately 
subsequently (by blocks 1950, 1952). In the preferred 
embodiment, MDEs and UDEs may have any of various different 
formats, and their formats may be flexibly specified or changed 
dynamically depending upon the installation, user, etc. The DTD, 
in effect, describes to the EVENT method 1940 how to read from 
the EVENT method map MDE. DTDs are also used to specify how 
methods should write to MDEs and UDEs, and thus may be used 
to implement privacy filters by, for example, preventing certain 


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confidential user information from being written to data structures 
that will be reported to third parties. 

Block 19: 0 ("map event to atomic element # and event count 
using a Map MDE") is in some sense the "heart" of EVENT 
method 1940. This step "maps" the event into an "atomic element 
number" to be responded to by subsequently called methods. An 
example of process control steps performed by a somewhat 
representative example of this "mapping" step 1950 is shown in 
Figure 53b. 

The Figure 53b example shows the process of converting a 
READ event that is associated with requesting byte range 1001- 
1500 from a specific piece of content into an appropriate atomic 
element. The example EVENT method mapping process (block 
1950 in Figure 53a) can be detailed as the representative process 
shown in Figure 53b. 

EVENT method mapping process 1950 may first look up the 
event code (READ) in the EVENT method MDE (1952) using the 
EVENT method map DTD (1948) to determine the structure and 
contents of the MDE. A test might then be performed to 
determine if the event code was found in the MDE (1956), and if 
not ("No" branch), the EVENT method mapping process may the 
terminate (1958) without mapping the event to an atomic element 
number and count. If the event was found in the MDE ("Yes" 
branch), the EVENT method mapping process may then compare 
the event range (e.g., bytes 1001-1500) against the atomic element 
to event range mapping table stored in the MDE (block 1960). The 


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comparison might yield one or more atomic element numbers or 
the event range might not be found in the mapping table. The 
result of the comparison might then be tested (block 1962) to 
determine if any atomic element numbers were found in the table. 
If not ("No" branch), the EVENT method mapping process may 
terminate without selecting any atomic element numbers or counts 
(1964). If the atomic element numbers were found, the process 
might then calculate the atomic element count from the event 
range (1966). In this example, the process might calculate the 
number of bytes requested by subtracting the upper byte range 
from the lower byte range (e.g., 1500 - 1001 + 1 = 500). The 
example EVENT method mapping process might then terminate 
(block 1968) and return the atomic element numbers) and counts. 

EVENT method 1940 may then write an EVENT audit trail 
if required to an EVENT method Audit Trail UDE (block 1970, 
1972). EVENT method 1940 may then prepare to pass the atomic 
element number and event count to the calling CONTROL method 
(or other control process) (at exit point 1978). Before that, 
however, EVENT method 1940 may test whether an atomic 
element was selected (decision block 1974). If no atomic element 
was selected, then the EVENT method may be failed (block 1974). 
This may occur for a number of reasons. For example, the EVENT 
method may fail to map an event into an atomic element if the 
user is not authorized to access the specific areas of content that 
the EVENT method MDE does not describe. This mechanism 
could be used, for example, to distribute customized versions of a 
piece of content and control access to the various versions in the 
content object by altering the EVENT method MDE delivered to 


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the user. A specific use of this technology might be to control the 
distribution of different language (e.g., English, French, Spanish) 
versions of a piece of content. 

Billing 

Figure 53c is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a BILLING method 1980. Examples of 
BILLING methods are set forth in Figures 49d, 50d, and 51d and 
are described above. BILLING method 1980 shown in Figure 53c 
is somewhat more generalized than the examples above. Like the 
BILLING method examples above, BILLING method 1980 receives 
a meter value to determine the amount to bill. BILLING method 
1980 may first prime a BILLING audit trail (if required) by 
writing appropriate information to the BILLING method Audit 
Trail UDE (blocks 1982, 1984). BILLING method 1980 may then 
obtain and load a BILLING method map DTD from the secure 
database (blocks 1985, 1986), which describes the BILLING 
method map MDE (e.g., a price list, table, or parameters to the 
billing amount calculation algorithm) that should be used by this 
BILLING method. The BILLING method map MDE may be 
delivered either as part of the content object or as a separately 
deliverable component that is combined with the control 
information at registration. 

The BILLING method map MDE in this example may 
describe the pricing algorithm that should be used in this 
BILLING method (e.g., bill $0,001 per byte of content released). 
Block 1988 ("Map meter value to billing amount 0 ) functions in the 
same manner as block 1950 of the EVENT method; it maps the 


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meter value to a billing value. Process step 1988 may also 
interrogate the secure database (as limited by the privacy filter) to 
determine if other objects or information (e.g., user information) 
are present as part of the BILLING method algorithm. 

BILLING method 1980 may then write a BILLING audit 
trail if required to a BILLING method Audit Trail UDE (block 
1990, 1992), and may prepare to return the billing amount to the 
calling CONTROL method (or other control process). Before that, 
however, BILLING method 1980 may test whether a billing 
amount was determined (decision block 1994). If no billing 
amount was determined, then the BILLING method may be failed 
(block 1996). This may occur if the user is not authorized to access 
the specific areas of the pricing table that the BILLING method 
MDE describes (e.g., you may purchase not more than $100.00 of 
information from this content object). 

Access 

Figure 54 is a flowchart of an example of program control 
steps performed by an ACCESS method 2000. As described above, 
an ACCESS method may be used to access content embedded in 
an object 300 so it can be written to, read from, or otherwise 
manipulated or processed. In many cases, the ACCESS method 
may be relatively trivial since the object may, for example, be 
stored in a local storage that is easily accessible. However, in the 
general case, an ACCESS method 2000 must go through a more 
complicated procedure in order to obtain the object. For example, 
some objects (or parts of objects) may only be available at remote 
sites or may be provided in the form of a real-time download or 


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feed (e.g., in the case of broadcast transmissions). Even if the 
object is stored locally to the VDE node, it may be stored as a 
secure or protected object so that it is not directly accessible to a 
calling process. ACCESS method 200 A establishes the 
connections, routings, and security requisites needed to access the 
object. These steps may be performed transparently to the calling 
process so that the calling process only needs to issue an access 
request and the particular ACCESS method corresponding to the 
object or class of objects handles all of the details and logistics 
involved in actually accessing the object. 

ACCESS method 2000 may first prime an ACCESS audit 
trail (if required) by writing to an ACCESS Audit Trail UDE 
(blocks 2002, 2004). ACCESS method 2000 may then read and 
load an ACCESS method DTD in order to determine the format of 
an ACCESS MDE (blocks 2006, 2008). The ACCESS method MDE 
specifies the source and routing information for the particular 
object to be accessed in the preferred embodiment. Using the 
ACCESS method DTD, ACCESS method 2000 may load the 
correction parameters (e.g., by telephone number, account ID, 
password and/or a request script in the remote resource dependent 
language). 

ACCESS method 2000 reads the ACCESS method MDE 
from the secure database, reads it in accordance with the ACCESS 
method DTD, and loads encrypted content source and routing 
information based on the MDE (blocks 2010, 2012). This source 
and routing information specifies the location of the encrypted 
content. ACCESS method 2000 then determines whether a 


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connection to the content is available (decision block 2014). This 
"connection" could be, for example, an on-line connection to a 
remote site, a real-time information feed, or a path to a 
secure/protected resource, for example. If the connection to the 
content is not currently available ("No" exit of decision block 2014), 
then ACCESS method 2000 takes steps to open the connection 
(block 2016). If the connection fails (e.g., because the user is not 
authorized to access a protected secure resource), then the 
ACCESS method 2000 returns with a failure indication 
(termination point 2018). If the open connection succeeds, on the 
other hand, then ACCESS method 2000 obtains the encrypted 
content (block 2020). ACCESS method 2000 then writes an 
ACCESS audit trail if required to the secure database ACCESS 
method Audit Trail UDE (blocks 2022, 2024), and then terminates 
(terminate point 2026). 

Decrypt and Encrypt 

Figure 55a is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of a DECRYPT 
method 2030 provided by the preferred embodiment. DECRYPT 
method 2030 in the preferred embodiment obtains or derives a 
decryption key from an appropriate PERC 808, and uses it to 
decrypt a block of encrypted content. DECRYPT method 2030 is 
passed a block of encrypted content or a pointer to where the 
encrypted block is stored. DECRYPT 2030 selects a key number 
from a key block (block 2032). For security purposes, a content 
object may be encrypted with, more than one key. For example, a 
movie may have the first 10 minutes encrypted using a first key, 
the second 10 minutes encrypted with a second key, and so on. 


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These keys are stored in a PERC 808 in a structure called a "key 
block." The selection process involves determining the correct key 
to use from the key block in order to decrypt the content. The 
process for this selection is similar to the process used by EVENT 
methods to map events into atomic element numbers. DECRYPT 
method 2030 may then access an appropriate PERC 808 from the 
secure database 610 and loads a key (or "seed") from a PERC 
(blocks 2034, 2036). This key information may be the actual 
decryption key to be used to decrypt the content, or it may be 
information from which the decryption key may be at least in part 
derived or calculated. If necessary, DECRYPT method 2030 
computes the decryption key based on the information read from 
PERC 808 at block 2034 (block 2038). DECRYPT method 2030 
then uses the obtained and/or calculated decryption key to actually 
decrypt the block of encrypted information Oalock 2040). 
DECRYPT method 2030 outputs the decrypted block (or the 
pointer indicating where it may be found), and terminates 
(termination point 2042). 

Figure 55b is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of an ENCRYPT 
method 2050. ENCRYPT method 2050 is passed as an input, a 
block of information to encrypt (or a pointer indicating where it 
may be found). ENCRYPT method 2050 then may determine an 
encryption key to use from a key block (block 2052). The 
encryption key selection makes a determination if a key for a 
specific block of content to be written already exists in a key block 
stored in PERC 808. If the key already exists in the key block, 
then the appropriate key number is selected. If no such key exists 


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example, contain prestored abstracts, indexes, tables of contents, 
etc., provided expressly for the purpose of being extracted by the 
CONTENT method 2070. If the object contains such static values 
("static" exit to decision block 2072), then CONTENT method 2070 
may simply read this static value content information from the 
object (block 2074), optionally decrypt, and release this content 
description (block 2076). If, on the other hand, CONTENT method 
2070 must derive the synopsis/content description from the secure 
object ("derived" exit to decision block 2072), then the CONTENT 
method may then securely read information from the container 
according to a synopsis algorithm to produce the synopsis (block 
2078). 

Extract and Embed 

Figure 57a is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of an EXTRACT 
method 2080 provided by the preferred embodiment. EXTRACT 
method 2080 is used to copy or remove content from an object and 
place it into a new object. In the preferred embodiment, the 
EXTRACT method 2080 does not involve any release of content, 
but rather simply takes content from one container and places it 
into another container, both of which may be secure. Extraction of 
content differs from release in that the content is never exposed 
outside a secure container. Extraction and Embedding are 
complementary functions; extract takes content from a container 
and creates a new container containing the extracted content and 
any specified control information associated with that content. 
Embedding takes content that is already in a container and stores 
it (or the complete object) in another container directly and/or by 


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in the key block, a new key is calculated using an algorithm 
appropriate to the enciyption algorithm. This key is then stored 
in the key block of PERC 808 so that DECRYPT method 2030 may 
access the key in order to decrypt the content stored in the content 
object. ENCRYPT method 2050 then accesses the appropriate 
PERC to obtain, derive and/or compute an encryption key to be 
used to encrypt the information block (blocks 2054, 2056, 2058, 
which are similar to Figure 55a blocks 2034, 2036, 2038). 
ENCRYPT method 2050 then actually encrypts the information 
block using the obtained and/or derived encryption key (block 
2060) and outputs the encrypted information block or a pointer 
where it can be found before terminating (termination point 2062). 


Figure 56 is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative of a CONTENT method 2070 
provided by the preferred embodiment. CONTENT method 2070 
in the preferred embodiment builds a "synopsis* of protected 
content using a secure process. For example, CONTENT method 
2070 may be used to derive unsecure ("public") information from 
secure content. Such derived public information might include, for 
example, an abstract, an index, a table of contents, a directory of 
files, a schedule when content may be available, or excerpts such 
as for example, a movie "trailer. 0 

CONTENT method 2070 begins by determining whether the 
derived content to be provided must be derived from secure 
contents, or whether it is already available in the object in the 
form of static values (decision block 2070). Some objects may, for 


Content 


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reference, integrating the control information associated with 
existing content with those of the new content. 

EXTRACT method 2080 begins by priming an Audit UDE 
(blocks 2082, 2084). EXTRACT method then calls a BUDGET 
method to make sure that the user has enough budget for (and is 
authorized to) extract content from the original object (block 2086). 
If the user's budget does not permit the extraction ("no" exit to 
decision block 2088), then EXTRACT method 2080 may write a 
failure audit record (block 2090), and terminate (termination point 
2092). If the user's budget permits the extraction ("yes" exit to 
decision block 2088), then the EXTRACT method 2080 creates a 
copy of the extracted object with specified rules and control 
information (block 2094). In the preferred embodiment, this step 
involves calling a method that actually controls the copy. This 
step may or may not involve decryption and encryption, depending 
on the particular the PERC 808 associated with the original object, 
for example. EXTRACT method 2080 then checks whether any 
control changes are permitted by the rights authorizing the extract 
to begin with (decision block 2096). In some cases, the extract 
rights require an exact copy of the PERC 808 associated with the 
original object (or a PERC included for this purpose) to be placed 
in the new (destination) container ("no" exit to decision block 
2096). If no control changes are permitted, then extract method 
2080 may simply write audit information to the Audit UDE (blocks 
2098, 2100) before terminating (terminate point 2102). If, on the 
other hand, the extract rights permit the user to make control 
changes ("yes" to decision block 2096), then EXTRACT method 
2080 may call a method or load module that solicits new or 


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changed control information (e.g., from the user, the distributor 
who created/granted extract rights, or from some other source) 
from the user (blocks 2104, 2106). EXTRACT method 2080 may 
then call a method or load module to create a new PERC that 
reflects these user-specified control information (block 2104). This 
new PERC is then placed in the new (destination) object, the 
auditing steps are performed, and the process terminates. 

Figure 57b is an example of process control steps performed 
by a representative example of an EMBED method 2110 provided 
by the preferred embodiment. EMBED method 2110 is similar to 
EXTRACT method 2080 shown in Figure 57a. However, the 
EMBED method 2110 performs a slightly different function— it 
writes an object (or reference) into a destination container. Blocks 
2112-2122 shown in Figure 57b are similar to blocks 2082-2092 
shown in Figure 57a. At block 2124, EMBED method 2110 writes 
the source object into the destination container, and may at the 
same time extract or change the control information of the 
destination container. One alternative is to simply leave the 
control information of the destination container alone, and include 
the full set of control information associated with the object being 
embedded in addition to the original container control information. 
As an optimization, however, the preferred embodiment provides a 
technique whereby the control information associated with the 
object being embedded are "abstracted" and incorporated into the 
control information of the destination container. Block 2124 may 
call a method to abstract or change this control information. 
EMBED method 2110 then performs steps 2126-2130 which are 
similar to steps 2096, 2104, 2106 shown in Figure 57a to allow the 


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• 


user, if authorized, to change and/or specify control information 
associated with the embedded object and/or destination container. 
EMBED method 2110 then writes audit information into an Audit 
UDE (blocks 2132, 2134), before terminating (at termination point 
2136). 

Obscure 

Figure 58a is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of an OBSCURE 
method 2140 provided by the preferred embodiment. OBSCURE 
method 2140 is typically used to release secure content in 
devalued form. For example, OBSCURE method 2140 may release 
a high resolution image in a lower resolution so that a viewer can 
appreciate the image but not enjoy its full value. As another 
example, the OBSCURE method 2140 may place an obscuring 
legend (e.g., "COPY,* "PROOF," etc.) across an image to devalue it. 
OBSCURE method 2140 may "obscure" text, images, audio 
information, or any other type of content. 

OBSCURE method 2140 first calls an EVENT method to 
determine if the content is appropriate and in the range to be 
obscured (block 2142). If the content is not appropriate for 
obscuring, the OBSCURE method terminates (decision block 2144 
"no" exit, terminate point 2146). Assuming that the content is to 
be obscured ("yes" exit to decision block 2144), then OBSCURE 
method 2140 determines whether it has previously been called to 
obscure this content (decision block 2148). Assuming the 
OBSCURE 2140 has not previously called for this object/content 
("yes" exit to decision block 2148), the OBSCURE method 2140 


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reads an appropriate OBSCURE method MDE from the secure 
database and loads an obscure formula and/or pattern from the 
MDE (blocks 2150, 2152). The OBSCURE method 2140 may then 
apply the appropriate obscure transform based on the patters 
and/or formulas loaded by block 2150 (block 2154). The 
OBSCURE method then may terminate (terminate block 2156). 

Fingerprint 

Figure 58b is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of a FINGERPRINT 
method 2160 provided by the preferred embodiment. 
FINGERPRINT method 2160 in the preferred embodiment 
operates to "mark" released content with a "fingerprint" 
identification of who released the content and/or check for such 
marks. This allows one to later determine who released unsecured 
content by examining the content. FINGERPRINT method 2160 
may, for example, insert a user ID within a datastream 
representing audio, video, or binary format information. 
FINGERPRINT method 2160 is quite similar to OBSCURE 
method 2140 shown in Figure 58a except that the transform 
applied by FINGERPRINT method block 2174 "fingerprints" the 
released content rather than obscuring it. 

Figure 58c shows an example of a "fingerprinting" procedure 
2160 that inserts into released content "fingerprints" 2161 that 
identify the object and/or property and/or the user that requested 
the released content and/or the date and time of the release and/or 
other identification criteria of the released content. 


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Such fingerprints 2161 can be "buried" - that is inserted in 
a manner that hides the fingerprints from typical users, 
sophisticated "hackers," and/or from all users, depending on the 
file format, the sophistication and/or variety of the insertion 
algorithms, and on the availability of original, non-fingerprinted 
content (for comparison for reverse engineering of algorithm(s)). 
Inserted or embedded fingerprints 2161, in a preferred 
embodiment, may be at least in part encrypted to make them more 
secure. Such encrypted fingerprints 2161 may be embedded 
within released content provided in "clear" (plaintext) form. 

Fingerprints 2161 can be used for a variety of purposes 
including, for example, the often related purposes of proving 
misuse of released materials and proving the source of released 
content. Software piracy is a- particularly good example where 
fingerprinting can be very useful. Fingerprinting can also help to 
enforce content providers' rights for most types of electronically 
delivered information including movies, audio recordings, 
multimedia, information databases, and traditional "literary" 
materials. Fingerprinting is a desirable alternative or addition to 
copy protection. 

Most piracy of software applications, for example, occurs not 
with the making of an illicit copy by an individual for use on 
another of the individual's own computers, but rather in giving a 
copy to another party. This often starts a chain (or more 
accurately a pyramid) of illegal copies, as copies are handed from 
individual to individual. The fear of identification resulting from 
the embedding of a fingerprint 2161 will likely dissuade most 


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individuals from participating, as many currently do, in 
widespread, "casual" piracy. In some cases, content may be 
checked for the presence of a fingerprint by a fingerprint method 
to help enforce content providers' rights. 

Different fingerprints 2161 can have different levels of 
security (e.g., one fingerprint 2161(1) could be readable/Identifiable 
by commercial concerns, while another fingerprint 2161(2) could be 
readable only by a more trusted agency. The methods for 
generating the more secure fingerprint 2161 might employ more 
complex encryption techniques (e.g., digital signatures) and/or 
obscuring of location methodologies. Two or more fingerprints 
2161 can be embedded in different locations and/or using different 
techniques to help protect fingerprinted information against 
hackers. The more secure fingerprints might only be employed 
periodically rather than each time content release occurs, if the 
technique used to provide a more secure fingerprint involves an 
undesired amount of additional overhead. This may nevertheless 
be effective since a principal objective of fingerprinting is 
deterrence — that is the fear on the part of the creator of an illicit 
copy that the copying will be found out. 

For example, one might embed a copy of a fingerprint 2161 
which might be readily identified by an authorized party-for 
example a distributor, service personal, client administrator, or 
clearinghouse using a VDE electronic appliance 600. One might 
embed one or more additional copies or variants of a fingerprint 
2161 (e.g., fingerprints carrying information describing some or all 


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relevant identifying information) and this additional one or more 
fingerprints 2161 might be maintained in a more secure manner. 

Fingerprinting can also protect privacy concerns. For 
example, the algorithm and/or mechanisms needed to identify the 
fingerprint 2161 might be available only through a particularly 
trusted agent. 

Fingerprinting 2161 can take many forms. For example, in 
an image, the color of every N pixels (spread across an image, or 
spread across a subset of the image) might be subtly shifted in a 
visually unnoticeable manner (at least according to the normal, 
unaided observer). These shifts could be interpreted by analysis of 
the image (with or without access to the original image), with each 
occurrence or lack of occurrence of a shift in color (or grayscale) 
being one or more binary "on or off 1 bits for digital information 
storage. The N pixels might be either consistent, or alternatively, 
pseudo-random in order (but interpre table, at least in part, by a 
object creator, object provider, client administrator, and/or VDE 
administrator). 

Other modifications of an image (or moving image, audio, 
etc.) which provide a similar benefit (that is, storing information 
in a form that is not normally noticeable as a result of a certain 
modification of the source information) may be appropriate, 
depending on the application. For example, certain subtle 
modifications in the frequency of stored audio information can be 
modified so as to be normally unnoticeable to the listener while 
still being readable with the proper tools. Certain properties of 


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the storage of information might be modified to provide such slight 
but interpretable variations in polarity of certain information 
which is optically stored to achieve similar results. Other 
variations employing other electronic, magnetic, and/or optical 
characteristic may be employed. 

Content stored in files that employ graphical formats, such 
as Microsoft Windows word processing files, provide significant 
opportunities for "burying" a fingerprint 2161. Content that 
includes images and/or audio provides the opportunity to embed 
fingerprints 2161 that may be difficult for unauthorized 
individuals to identify since, in the absence of an "unfingerprinted" 
original for purposes of comparison, minor subtle variations at one 
or more time instances in audio frequencies, or in one or more 
video images, or the like, will be in themselves undiscernible given 
the normally unknown nature of the original and the large 
amounts of data employed in both image and sound data (and 
which is not particularly sensitive to minor variations). With 
formatted text documents, particularly those created with 
graphical word processors (such as Microsoft Windows or Apple 
Macintosh word processors and their DOS and Unix equivalents), 
fingerprints 2161 can normally be inserted unobtrusively into 
portions of the document data representation that are not 
normally visible to the end user (such as in a header or other 
non-displayed data field). 

Yet another form of fingerprinting, which may be 
particularly suitable for certain textual documents, would employ 
and control the formation of characters for a given font. 


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Individual characters may have a slightly different visual 
formation which connotes certain "fingerprint" information. This 
alteration of a given character's form would be generally 
undiscernible, in part because so many slight variations exist in 
versions of the same font available from different suppliers, and in 
part because of the smallness of the variation. For example, in a 
preferred embodiment, a program such as Adobe Type Align could 
be used which, in its off-the-shelf versions, supports the ability of a 
user to modify font characters in a variety of ways. The 
mathematical definition of the font character is modified according 
to the user's instructions to produce a specific set of modifications 
to be applied to a character or font. Information content could be 
used in an analogous manner (as an alternative to user selections) 
to modify certain or all characters too subtly for user recognition 
under normal circumstances but which nevertheless provide 
appropriate encoding for the fingerprint 2161. Various subtly 
different versions of a given character might be used within a 
single document so as to increase the ability to cany transaction 
related font fingerprinted information. 

Some other examples of applications for fingerprinting might 


1. In software programs, selecting certain 
interchangeable code fragments in such a way as to 
produce more or less identical operation, but on 
analysis, differences that detail fingerprint 
information. 

2. With databases, selecting to format certain fields, such 
as dates, to appear in different ways. 


include: 


485 


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3. In games, adjusting backgrounds, or changing order of 
certain events, including noticeable or very subtle 
changes in timing and/or ordering of appearance of 
game elements, or slight changes in the look of 
elements of the game. 

Fingerprinting method 2160 is typically performed (if at all) 
at the point at which content is released from a content object 300. 
However, it could also be performed upon distribution of an object 
to "mark" the content while still in encrypted form. For example, 
a network-based object repository could embed fingerprints 2161 
into the content of an object before transmitting the object to the 
requester, the fingerprint information could identify a content 
requester/end user. This could help detect "spoof electronic 
appliances 600 used to release content without authorization. 


Figure 59 is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative performed by a DESTROY 
method 2180 provided by the preferred embodiment. DESTROY 
method 2180 removes the ability of a user to use an object by 
destroying the URT the user requires to access the object. In the 
preferred embodiment, a DESTROY method 2180 may first write 
audit information to an Audit UDE (blocks 2182, 2184). 
DESTROY method 2180 may than call a WRITE and/or ACCESS 
method to write information which will corrupt (and thus destroy) 
the header and/or other important parts of the object (block 2186). 
DESTROY method 2180 may then mark one or more of the control 
structures (e.g., the URT) as damaged by writing appropriate 


Destroy 


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information to the control structure (blocks 2188, 2190). 
DESTROY method 2180, finally, may write additional audit 
information to Audit UDE (blocks 2192, 2194) before terminating 
(terminate point 2196). 

Panic 

Figure 60 is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of a PANIC method 
2200 provided by the preferred embodiment. PANIC method 2200 
may be called when a security violation is detected. PANIC 
method 2200 may prevent the user from further accessing the 
object currently being accessed by, for example, destroying the 
channel being used to access the object and marking one or more 
of the control structures (e.g., the URT) associated with the user 
and object as damaged (blocks 2206, and 2208-2210, respectively). 
Because the control structure is damaged, the VDE node will need 
to contact an administrator to obtain a valid control structure(s) 
before the user may access the same object again. When the VDE 
node contacts the administrator, the administrator may request 
information sufficient to satisfy itself that no security violation 
occurred, or if a security violation did occur, take appropriate steps 
to ensure that the security violation is not repeated. 

Meter 

Figure 61 is a flowchart of an example of process control 
steps performed by a representative example of a METER method 
provided by the preferred embodiment. Although METER 
methods were described above in connection with Figures 49, 50 
and 51, the METER method 2220 shown in Figure 61 is possibly a 


487 


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somewhat more representative example. In the preferred 
embodiment, METER method 2220 first primes an Audit Trail by 
accessing a METER Audit Trail UDE (blocks 2222, 2224). METER 
method 2220 may then read the DTD for the Meter UDE from the 
secure database (blocks 2226, 2228). METER method 2220 may 
then read the Meter UDE from the secure database (blocks 2230, 
2232). METER method 2220 next may test the obtained Meter 
UDE to determine whether it has expired (decision block 2234). In 
the preferred embodiment, each Meter UDE may be marked with 
an expiration date. If the current date/time is later than the 
expiration date of the Meter UDE Cyes" exit to decision block 
2234), then the METER method 2220 may record a failure in the 
Audit Record and terminate with a failure condition (block 2236, 
2238). 

Assuming the Meter UDE is not yet expired, the meter 
method 2220 may update it using the atomic element and event 
count passed to the METER method from, for example, an EVENT 
method (blocks 2239, 2240). The METER method 2220 may then 
save the Meter Use Audit Record in the Meter Audit Trail UDE 
(blocks 2242, 2244), before terminating (at terminate point 2246). 

Additional Security Features Provided by the Preferred 
Embodiment 

VDE 100 provided by the preferred embodiment has 
sufficient security to help ensure that it cannot be compromised 
short of a successful ''brute force attack, 0 and so that the time and 
cost to succeed in such a "brute force attack 0 substantially exceeds 
any value to be derived. In addition, the security provided by 


488 


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VDE 100 compartmentalizes the internal workings of VDE so that 
a successful "brute force attack" would compromise only a strictly 
bounded subset of protected information, not the entire system. 


The following are among security aspects and features 
provided by the preferred embodiment: 

security of PPE 650 and the processes it performs 

• security of secure database 610 

• security of encryption/decryption performed by PPE 
650 

• key management; security of encryption/decryption 
keys and shared secrets 

• security of authentication/external communications 

• security of secure database backup 

• secure transportability of VDE internal information 
between electronic appliances 600 

• security of permissions to access VDE secure 
information 

security of VDE objects 300 

• integrity of VDE security. 

Some of these security aspects and considerations are 
discussed above. The following provides an expanded discussion of 
preferred embodiment security features not fully addressed 
elsewhere. 


489 


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Management of Keys and Shared Secrets 

VDE 100 uses keys and shared secrets to provide security. 
The following key usage features are provided by the preferred 

emboti* lent: 

• different cryptosystem/key types 

• secure key length 

• key generation 

key "convolution" and key "aging." 
Each of these types are discussed below. 

A. Public-Key and Symmetric Key Cryptoaysteins 

The process of disguising or transforming information to 
hide its substance is called encryption. Encryption produces 
"ciphertext." Reversing the encryption process to recover the 
substance from the ciphertext is called "decryption" A 
cryptographic algorithm is the mathematical function used for 
encryption and decryption. 

Most modern cryptographic algorithms use a "key." The 
"key" specifies one of a family of transformations to be provided. 
Keys allow a standard, published and tested cryptographic 
algorithm to be used while ensuring that specific transformations 
performed using the algorithm are kept secret. The secrecy of the 
particular transformations thus depends on the secrecy of the key, 
not on the secrecy of the algorithm. 

There are two general forms of key-based algorithms, either 
or both of which may be used by the preferred embodiment PPE 

650: 


490 


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symmetric; and 
public-key CPK"). 

Symmetric algorithms are algorithms where the encryption 
key can be calculated from the decryption key and vice versa. In 
many such systems, the encryption and decryption keys are the 
same. The algorithms, also called "secret-key", "single key" or 
"shared secret" algorithms, require a sender and receiver to agree 
on a key before ciphertext produced by a sender can be decrypted 
by a receiver. This key must be kept secret. The security of a 
symmetric algorithm rests in the key: divulging the key means 
that anybody could encrypt and decrypt information in such a 
cryptosystem. See Schneier, Applied Cryptography at Page 3. 
Some examples of symmetric key algorithms that the preferred 
embodiment may use include DES, Skipjack/Clipper, IDEA, RC2, 
and RC4. 

In public-key cryptosystems, the key used for encryption is 
different from the key used for decryption. Furthermore, it is 
computationally infeasible to derive one key from the other. The 
algorithms used in these cryptosystems are called "public key" 
because one of the two keys can be made public without 
endangering the security of the other key. They are also 
sometimes called "asymmetric" cryptosystems because they use 
different keys for encryption and decryption. Examples of public- 
key algorithms include RSA, El Gamal and LUC. 

The preferred embodiment PPE 650 may operate based on 
only symmetric key cryptosystems, based on public-key 


(0064091.01) 


cryptosystems, or based on both symmetric key cryptosystems and 
public-key cryptosys terns. VDE 100 does not require any specific 
encryption algorithms; the architecture provided by the preferred 
embodiment m?~ support numerous algorithms including PK 
and/or secret key (non PK) algorithms. In some cases, the choice 
of encryption/decryption algorithm will be dependent on a number 
of business decisions such as cost, market demands, compatibility 
with other commercially available systems, export laws, etc. 

Although the preferred embodiment is not dependent on any 
particular type of cryptosystem or encryption/decryption 
algorithm(s), the preferred example uses PK cryptosystems for 
secure communications between PPEs 650, and uses secret key 
cryptosystems for ''bulk" encryption/decryption of VDE objects 300. 
Using secret key cryptosystems (e.g., DES implementations using 
multiple keys and multiple passes, Skipjack, RC2, or RC4) for 
"bulk" encryption/decryption provides efficiencies in encrypting 
and decrypting large quantities of information, and also permits 
PPEs 650 without PK-capability to deal with VDE objects 300 in a 
variety of applications. Using PK cryptosystems for 
communications may provide advantages such as eliminating 
reliance on secret shared external communication keys to establish 
communications, allowing for a challenge/response that doesn't 
rely on shared internal secrets to authenticate PPEs 650, and 
allowing for a publicly available "certification* process without 
reliance on shared secret keys. 

Some content providers may wish to restrict use of their 
content to PK implementations. This desire can be supported by 


492 


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• 


making the availability of PK capabilities, and the specific nature 
or type of PK capabilities, in PPEs 650 a factor in the registration 
of VDE objects 300, for example, by including a requirement in a 
REGISTER method for such objects in the form of a load module 
that examines a PPE 650 for specific or general PK capabilities 
before allowing registration to continue. 

Although VDE 100 does not require any specific algorithm, 
it is highly desirable that all PPEs 650 are capable of using the 
same algorithm for bulk encryption/decryption. If the bulk 
encryption/decryption algorithm used for encrypting VDE objects 
300 is not standardized, then it is possible that not all VDE 
electronic appliances 600 will be capable of handling all VDE 
objects 300. Performance differences will exist between different 
PPEs 650 and associated electronic appliances 600 if standardized 
bulk encryption/decryption algorithms are not implemented in 
whole or in part by hardware-based encrypt/decrypt engine 522, 
and instead are implemented in software. In order to support 
algorithms that are not implemented in whole or in part by 
encrypt/decrypt engine 522, a component assembly that 
implements such an algorithm must be available to a PPE 650. 

B. Key Length 

Increased key length may increase security. A "brute-force" 
attack of a cryptosystem involves trying every possible key. The 
longer the key, the more possible keys there are to try. At some 
key length, available computation resources will require an 
unpractically large amount of time for a Hbrute force" attacker to 
try every possible key. 


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VDE 100 provided by the preferred embodiment 
accommodates and can use many different key lengths. The 
length of keys used by VDE 100 in the preferred embodiment is 
determined by the algorithm(s) used for encryption/decryption, the 
level of security desired, and throughput requirements. Longer 
keys generally require additional processing power to ensure fast 
encryption/decryption response times. Therefore, there is a 
tradeoff between (a) security, and (b) processing time and/or 
resources. Since a hardware-based PPE encrypt/decrypt engine 
522 may provide faster processing than software-based 
enciyption/decryption, the hardware-based approach may, in 
general, allow use of longer keys. 

The preferred embodiment may use a 1024 bit modulus (key) 
RSA cryptosystem implementation for PK encryption/decryption, 
and may use 56-bit DES for "bulk" encryption/deciyption. Since 
the 56-bit key provided by standard DES may not be long enough 
to provide sufficient security for at least the most sensitive VDE 
information, multiple DES encryptions using multiple passes and 
multiple DES keys may be used to provide additional security. 
DES can be made significantly more secure if operated in a 
manner that uses multiple passes with different keys. For 
example, three passes with 2 or 3 separate keys is much more 
secure because it effectively increases the length of the key. RC2 
and RC4 (alternatives to DES) can be exported for up to 40-bit key 
sizes, but the key size probably needs to be much greater to 
provide even DES level security. The 80-bit key length provided 
by NSA's Skipjack may be adequate for most VDE security needs. 


494 


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• 


• 


The capability of downloading code and other information 
dynamically into PPE 650 allows key length to be adjusted and 
changed dynamically even after a significant number of VDE 
electronic appliances 600 are in use. The ability of a VDE 
administrator to communicate with each PPE 650 efficiently 
makes such after-the-fact dynamic changes both possible and cost- 
effective. New or modified cryptosystems can be downloaded into 
existing PPEs 650 to replace or add to the cryptosystem repertoire 
available within the PPE, allowing older PPEs to maintain 
compatibility with newer PPEs and/or newly released VDE objects 
300 and other VDE-protected information. For example, software 
encryption/decryption algorithms may be downloaded into PPE 650 
at any time to supplement the hardware-based functionality of 
encrypt/decrypt engine 522 by providing different key length 
capabilities. To provide increased flexibility, PPE encrypt/decrypt 
engine 522 may be configured to anticipate multiple passes and/or 
variable and/or longer key lengths. In addition, it may be 
desirable to provide PPEs 650 with the capability to internally 
generate longer PK keys. 

C. Key Generation 

Key generation techniques provided by the preferred 
embodiment permit PPE 650 to generate keys and other 
information that are "known" only to it. 

The security of encrypted information rests in the security of 
the key used to encrypt it. If a cryptographically weak process is 
used to generate keys, the entire security is weak. Good keys are 
random bit strings so that every possible key in the key space is 


495 


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# 


equally likely. Therefore, keys should in general be derived from a 
reliably random source, for example, by a cryptographically secure 
pseudo-random number generator seeded from such a source. 
Examples of such key generators are described in Schneier, 
Applied Cryptography (John Wiley and Sons, 1994), chapter 15. If 
keys are generated outside a given PPE 650 (e.g., by another PPE 
650), they must be verified to ensure they come from a trusted 
source before they can be used. "Certification" may be used to 
verify keys. 

The preferred embodiment PPE 650 provides for the 
automatic generation of keys. For example, the preferred 
embodiment PPE 650 may generate its own public/private key pair 
for use in protecting PK-based external communications and for 
other reasons. A PPE 650 may also generate its own symmetric 
keys for various purposes during and after initialization. Because 
a PPE 650 provides a secure environment, most key generation in 
the preferred embodiment may occur within the PPE (with the 
possible exception of initial PPE keys used at manufacturing or 
installation time to allow a PPE to authenticate initial download 
messages to it). 

Good key generation relies on randomness. The preferred 
embodiment PPE 650 may, as mentioned above in connection with 
Figure 9, includes a hardware-based random number generator 
542 with the characteristics required to generate reliable random 
numbers. These random numbers may be used to "seed" a 
cryptographically strong pseudo-random number generator (e.g., 
DES operated in Output Feedback Mode) for generation of 


496 


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additional key values derived from the random seed. In the 
preferred embodiment, random number generator 542 may consist 
of a "noise diode" or other physically-based source of random 
values (e.g., radioactive decay). 

If no random number generator 542 is available in the PPE 
650, the SPE 503 may employ a cryptographic algorithm (e.g., 
DES in Output Feedback Mode) to generate a sequence of pseudo- 
random values derived from a secret value protected within the 
SPE. Although these numbers are pseudo-random rather than 
truly random, they are cryptographically derived from a value 
unknown outside the SPE 503 and therefore may be satisfactory in 
some applications. 

In an embodiment incorporating an HPE 655 without an 
SPE 503, the random value generator 565 software may derive 
reliably random numbers from unpredictable external physical 
events (e.g., high-resolution timing of disk I/O completions or of 
user keystrokes at an attached keyboard 612). 

Conventional techniques for generating PK and non-PK keys 
based upon such "seeds" may be used. Thus, if performance and 
manufacturing costs permit, PPE 650 in the preferred embodiment 
will generate its own public/private key pair based on such random 
or pseudo-random "seed* 1 values. This key pair may then be used 
for external communications between the PPE 650 that generated 
the key pair and other PPEs that wish to communicate with it. 
For example, the generating PPE 650 may reveal the public key of 
the key pair to other PPEs. This allows other PPEs 650 using the 


497 


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public key to encrypt messages that may be decrypted only by the 
generating PPE (the generating PPE is the only PPE that 
"knows" the corresponding "private key"). Similarly, the 
generating PPE 650 may encrypt messages usin& its private key 
that, when decrypted successfully by other PPEs with the 
generating PPE's public key, permit the other PPEs to 
authenticate that the generating PPE sent the message. 

Before one PPE 650 uses a public key generated by another 
PPE, a public key certification process should be used to provide 
authenticity certificates for the public key. A public-key certificate 
is someone's public key "signed" by a trustworthy entity such as an 
authentic PPE 650 or a VDE administrator. Certificates are used 
to thwart attempts to convince a PPE 650 that it is communicating 
with an authentic PPE when it is not (e.g., it is actually 
communicating with a person attempting to break the security of 
PPE 650). One or more VDE administrators in the preferred 
embodiment may constitute a certifying authority. By "signing" 
both the public key generated by a PPE 650 and information about 
the PPE and/or the corresponding VDE electronic appliance 600 
(e.g., site ID, user ID, expiration date, name, address, etc.), the 
VDE administrator certifying authority can certify that 
information about the PPE and/or the VDE electronic appliance is 
correct and that the public key belongs to that particular VDE 
mode. 

Certificates play an important role in the trustedness of 
digital signatures, and also are important in the public-key 
authentication communications protocol (to be discussed below). 


(0064091.01) 


In the preferred embodiment, these certificates may include 
information about the trustedness/level of security of a particular 
VDE electronic appliance 600 (e.g., whether or not it has a 
hardware-based SPE 503 or is instead a less trusted software 
emulation type HPE 655) that can be used to avoid transmitting 
certain highly secure information to less trusted/secure VDE 
installations. 

Certificates can also play an important role in 
decommissioning rogue users and/or sites. By including a site 
and/or user ID in a certificate, a PPE can evaluate this 
information as an aspect of authentication. For example, if a VDE 
administrator or clearinghouse encounters a certificate bearing an 
ID (or other information) that meets certain criteria (e.g., is 
present on a list of decommissioned and/or otherwise suspicious 
users and/or sites), they may choose to take actions based on those 
criteria such as refusing to communicate, communicating disabling 
information, notifying the user of the condition, etc. Certificates 
also typically include an expiration date to ensure that certificates 
must be replaced periodically, for example, to ensure that sites 
and/or users must stay in contact with a VDE administrator 
and/or to allow certification keys to be changed periodically. More 
than one certificate based on different keys may be issued for sites 
and/or users so that if a given certification key is compromised, 
one or more "backup" certificates may be used. If a certification 
key is compromised, A VDE administrator may refuse to 
authenticate based on certificates generated with such a key, and 
send a signal after authenticating with a "backup" certificate that 
invalidates all use of the compromised key and all certificates 


(0064091.01) 


associated with it in further interactions with VDE participants. 
A new one or more "backup" certificates and keys may be created 
and sent to the authenticated site/user after such a compromise. 

If multiple certificates are available, some of the certificates 
may be reserved as backups. Alternatively or in addition, one 
certificate from a group of certificates may be selected (e.g., by 
using RNG 542) in a given authentication, thereby reducing the 
likelihood that a certificate associated with a compromised 
certification key will be used. Still alternatively, more than one 
certificate may be used in a given authentication. 

To guard against the possibility of compromise of the 
certification algorithm (e.g., by an unpredictable advance in the 
mathematical foundations on which the algorithm is based), 
distinct algorithms may used for different certificates that are 
based on different mathematical foundations. 

Another technique that may be employed to decrease the 
probability of compromise is to keep secret (in protected storage in 
the PPE 650) the "public* values on which the certificates are 
based, thereby denying an attacker access to values that may aid 
in the attack. Although these values are nominally "public," they 
need be known only to those components which actually validate 
certificates (i.e., the PPE 650). 

In the preferred embodiment, PPE 650 may generate its own 
certificate, or the certificate may be obtained externally, such as 
from a certifying authority VDE administrator. Irrespective of 


(0064091.01) 


certificates may incorporate both user and site information or may 
only include user information. Generally, a certifying authority 
will require a valid site certificate to be presented prior to creating 
a certificate for a given user. Users may each require their own 
public key/private key pair in order to obtain certificates. VDE 
administrators, clearinghouses, and other participants may 
normally require authentication of both the site (PPE 650) and of 
the user in a communication or other interaction. The processes 
described above for key generation and certification for PPEs 650 
may also be used to form site/user certificates or user certificates. 

Certificates as described above may also be used to certify 
the origin of load modules 1100 and/or the authenticity of 
administrative operations. The security and assurance techniques 
described above may be employed to decrease the probability of 
compromise for any such certificate (including certificates other 
than the certificate for a VDE electronic appliance 600's identity). 

D. Key Aging and Convolution 

PPE 650 also has the ability in the preferred embodiment to 
generate secret keys and other information that is shared between 
multiple PPEs 650. In the preferred embodiment, such secret keys 
and other information may be shared between multiple VDE 
electronic appliances 600 without requiring the shared secret 
information to ever be communicated explicitly between the 
electronic appliances. More specifically, PPE 650 uses a technique 
called "key convolution" to derive keys based on a deterministic 
process in response to seed information shared between multiple 
VDE electronic appliances 600. Since the multiple electronic 


502 


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where the digital certificate is generated, the certificate is 
eventually registered by the VDE administrator certifying 
authority so that other VDE electronic appliances 600 may have 
access to (and trust) the public key. For example, PPE 650 may 
communicate its public key and other information to a certifying 
authority which may then encrypt the public key and other 
information using the certifying authority's private key. Other 
installations 600 may trust the "certificate" because it can be 
authenticated by using the certifying authority's public key to 
decrypt it. As another example, the certifying authority may 
encrypt the public key it receives from the generating PPE 650 
and use it to encrypt the certifying authority's private key. The 
certifying authority may then send this encrypted information 
back to the generating PPE 650. The generating PPE 650 may 
then use the certifying authority's private key to internally create 
a digital certificate, after which it may destroy its copy of the 
certifying authority's private key. The generating PPE 650 may 
then send out its digital certificate to be stored in a certification 
repository at the VDE administrator (or elsewhere) if desired. The 
certificate process can also be implemented with an external key 
pair generator and certificate generator, but might be somewhat 
less secure depending on the nature of the secure facility. In such 
a case, a manufacturing key should be used in PPE 650 to limit 
exposure to the other keys involved. 

A PPE 650 may need more than one certificate. For 
example, a certificate may be needed to assure other users that a 
PPE is authentic, and to identify the PPE. Further certificates 
may be needed for individual users of a PPE 650. These 


501 


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appliances 600 "know" what the "seed* information is and also 
"know" the deterministic process used to generate keys based on 
this information, each of the electronic appliances may 
independently generate the "true key." This permits multiple VDE 
electronic appliances 600 to share a common secret key without 
potentially compromising its security by communicating it over an 
insecure channel. 

No encryption key should be used for an indefinite period. 
The longer a key is used, the greater the chance that it may be 
compromised and the greater the potential loss if the key is 
compromised but still in use to protect new information. The 
longer a key is used, the more information it may protect and 
therefore the greater the potential rewards for someone to spend 
the effort necessary to break it. Further, if a key is used for a long 
time, there may be more ciphertext available to an attacker 
attempting to break the key using a ciphertext-based attack. See 
Schneier at 150-151. Key convolution in the preferred 
embodiment provides a way to efficiently change keys stored in 
secure database 610 on a routine periodic or other basis while 
simplifying key management issues surrounding the change of 
keys. In addition, key convolution may be used to provide "time 
aged keys a (discussed below) to provide "expiration dates" for key 
usage and/or validity. 

Figure 62 shows an example implementation of key 
convolution in the preferred embodiment. Key convolution may be 
performed using a combination of a site ID 2821 and the high- 
order bits of the RTC 528 to yield a site-unique value "V that is 


503 


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time-dependent on a large scale (e.g., hours or days). This value 
"V w may be used as the key for an encryption process 2871 that 
transforms a convolution seed value 2861 into a "current 
convolution key" 2862. The seed value 2861 may be a universe- 
wide or group-wide shared secret value, and may be stored in 
secure key storage (e.g., protected memory within PPE 650). The 
seed value 2861 is installed during the manufacturing process and 
may be updated occasionally by a VDE administrator. There may 
be a plurality of seed values 2861 corresponding to different sets of 
objects 300. 

The current convolution key 2862 represents an encoding of 
the site ID 2821 and current time. This transformed value 2862 
may be used as a key for another encryption process 2872 to 
transform the stored key 810 in the object's PERC 808 into the 
true private body key 2863 for the object's contents. 

The "convolution function" performed by blocks 2861, 2871 
may, for example, be a one-way function that can be performed 
independently at both the content creator's site and at the content 
user's site. If the content user does not use precisely the same 
convolution function and precisely the same input values (e.g., 
time and/or site and/or other information) as used by the content 
creator, then the result of the convolution function performed by 
the content user will be different from the content creator's result. 
If the result is used as a symmetrical key for encryption by the 
content creator, the content user will not be able to decrypt unless 
the content user's result is the same as the result of the content 
creator. 


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The time component for input to the key convolution 
function may be derived from RTC 528 (care being taken to ensure 
that slight differences in RTC synchronization between VDE 
electronic appliances will not cause different electronic appliances 
to use different time components). Different portions of the RTC 
528 output may be used to provide keys with different valid 
durations, or some tolerance can be built into the process to try 
several different key values. For example, a "time granularity" 
parameter can be adjusted to provide time tolerance in terms of 
days, weeks, or any other time period. As one example, if the 
"time granularity" is set to 2 days, and the tolerance is ±2 days, 
then three real-time input values can be tried as input to the 
convolution algorithm. Each of the resulting key values may be 
tried to determine which of the possible keys is actually used. In 
this example, the keys will have only a 4 day life span. 

Figure 63 shows how an appropriate convoluted key may be 
picked in order to compensate for skew between the user's RTC 
528 and the producer's RTC 528. A sequence of convolution keys 
2862 (a-e) may be generated by using different input values 
2881(a-e), each derived from the site ID 2821 and the RTC 528 
value plus or minus a differential (e.g., -2 days, -1 days, no delta, 
+1 days, +2 days). The convolution steps 2871(a-e) are used to 
generate the sequence of keys 2862(a-e). 

Meanwhile, the creator site may use the convolution step 
287 l(z) based on his RTC 528 value (adjusted to correspond to the 
intended validity time for the key) to generate a convoluted key 
2862(z), which may then be used to generate the content key 2863 


505 


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in the object's PERC 808. To decrypt the object's content, the user 
site may use each of its sequence of convolution keys 2862 (a-e) to 
attempt to generate the master content key 810. When this is 
attempted, as long as the RTC 538 of 'he creator site is within 
acceptable tolerance of the RTC 528 at the user site, one of keys 
2862(a-e) will match key 2862(z) and the decryption will be 
successful. In this example, matching is determined by validity of 
decrypted output, not by direct comparison of keys. 

Key convolution as described above need not use both site 
ID and time as a value. Some keys may be generated based on 
current real time, other keys might be generated on site ID, and 
still other keys might be generated based on both current real- 
time and site ID. 

Key convolution can be used to provide w time-aged w keys. 
Such w time-aged a keys provide an automatic mechanism for 
allowing keys to expire and be replaced by "new* keys. They 
provide a way to give a user time-limited rights to make time- 
limited use of an object, or portions of an object, without requiring 
user re-registration but retaining significant control in the hands 
of the content provider or administrator. If secure database 610 is 
sufficiently secure, similar capabilities can be accomplished by 
checking an expiration date/time associated with a key, but this 
requires using more storage space for each key or group of keys. 

In the preferred embodiment, PERCs 808 can include an 
expiration date and/or time after which access to the VDE- 
protected information they correspond to is no longer authorized. 


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Alternatively or in addition, after a duration of time related to 
some aspect of the use of the electronic appliance 600 or one or 
more VDE objects 300, a PERC 808 can force a user to send audit 
history information to a clearinghouse, distributor, client 
administrator, or object creator in order to regain or retain the 
right to use the object(s). The PERC 808 can enforce such time- 
based restrictions by checking/enforcing parameters that limit key 
usage and/or availability past time of authorized use. Time aged" 
keys may be used to enforce or enhance this type of time-related 
control of access to VDE protected information. 

"Time aged" keys can be used to enciypt and decrypt a set of 
information for a limited period of time, thus requiring 
re-registration or the receipt of new permissions or the passing of 
audit information, without which new keys are not provided for 
user use. Time aged keys can also be used to improve system 
security since one or more keys would be automatically replaced 
based on the time ageing criteria — and thus, cracking secure 
database 610 and locating one or more keys may have no real 
value. Still another advantage of using time aged keys is that 
they can be generated dynamically— thereby obviating the need to 
store decryption keys in secondary and/or secure memory. 

A "time aged key" in the preferred embodiment is not a 
"true key" that can be used for encryption/decryption, but rather is 
a piece of information that a PPE 650, in conjunction with other 
information, can use to generate a "true key." This other 
information can be time-based, based on the particular "ID" of the 
PPE 650, or both. Because the "true key" is never exposed but is 


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always generated within a secure PPE 650 environment, and 
because secure PPEs are required to generate the "true key," VDE 
100 can use "time aged a keys to significantly enhance security and 
flexibility of the system. 

The process of "aging" a key in the preferred embodiment 
involves generating a time-aged "true key" that is a function of: (a) 
a "true key," and (b) some other information (6.g., real time 
parameters, site ID parameters, etc.) This information is 
combined/transformed (e.g., using the "key convolution" techniques 
discussed above) to recover or provide a "true key" Since the 
"true key" can be recovered, this avoids having to store the "true 
key" within PERC 808, and allow different "true keys" to 
correspond to the same information within PERC 808. Because 
the "true key" is not stored in the PERC 808, access to the PERC 
does not provide access to the information protected by the "true 
key." Thus, "time aged" keys allows content creators/providers to 
impose a limitation (e.g., site based and/or time based) on 
information access that is, in a sense, "external of" or auxiliary to 
the permissioning provided by one or more PERCs 808. For 
example, a "time aged" key may enforce an additional time 
limitation on access to certain protected information, this 
additional time limitation being independent of any information or 
permissioning contained within the PERC 808 and being instead 
based on one or more time and/or site ID values. 

As one example, time-aged decryption keys may be used to 
allow the purchaser of a "trial subscription" of an electronically 
published newspaper to access each edition of the paper for a 


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period of one week, after which the decryption keys will no longer 
work. In this example, the user would need to purchase one or 
more new PERCs 808, or receive an update to an existing one or 
more permissions records, to access editions other than the ones 
from that week. Access to those other editions which might be 
handled with a totally different pricing structure (e.g., a "regular" 
subscription rate as opposed to a free or minimal "trial* 
subscription rate). 

In the preferred embodiment, time-aged-based "true keys" 
can be generated using a one-way or invertible "key convolution" 
function. Input parameters to the convolution function may 
include the supplied time-aged keys; user and/or site specific 
values; a specified portion (e.g., a certain number of high order 
bits) of the time value from an RTC 528 (if present) or a value 
derived from such time value in a predefined manner; and a block 
or record identifier that may be used to ensure that each time 
aged key is unique. The output of the "key convolution" function 
may be a "true key" that is used for decryption purposes until 
discarded. Running the function with a time-aged key and 
inappropriate time values typically yields a useless key that will 
not decrypt. 

Generation of a new time aged key can be triggered based 
on some value of elapsed, absolute or relative time (e.g., based on 
a real time value from a clock such as RTC 528). At that time, the 
convolution would produce the wrong key and decryption could not 
occur until the time-aged key is updated. The criteria used to 
determine when a new "time aged key" is to be created may itself 


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be changed based on time or some other input variable to provide 
yet another level of security. Thus, the convolution function 
and/or the event invoking it may change, shift or employ a varying 
quantity as a parameter. 

One example of the use of time-aged keys is as follows: 

1) A creator makes a "true" key, and encrypts content 
with it. 

2) A creator performs a "reverse convolution" to yield a 
"time aged key" using, as input parameters to the 
"reverse convolution": 

a) the "true" key, 

b) a time parameter (e.g., valid high-order 
time bits of RTC 528), and 

c) optional other information (e.g., site ID 
and/or user ID). 

3) The creator distributes the "time-aged key" to content 
users (the creator may also need to distribute the 
convolution algorithm and/or parameters if she is not 
using a convolution algorithm already available to the 
content users' PPE 650). 

4) The content user's PPE 650 combines: 

a) "time-aged" key 

b) high-order time bits 

c) required other information (same as 2c). 

It performs a convolution function (i.e., the inverse of "reverse 
convolution" algorithm in step (2) above) to obtain the "true" key. 


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If the supplied time and/or other information is "wrong," the 
convolution function will not yield the "true" key, and therefore 
content cannot be decrypted. 

Any of the key blocks associated with VDE objects 300 or 
other items can be either a regular key block or a time-aged key 
block, as specified by the object creator during the object 
configuration process, or where appropriate, a distributor or client 
administrator. 

Time aged" keys can also be used as part of protocols to 
provide secure communications between PPEs 650. For example, 
instead of providing "true" keys to PPE 650 for communications, 
VDE 100 may provide only "partial" communication keys to the 
PPE. These "partial" keys may be provided to PPE 650 during 
initialization, for example. A predetermined algorithm may 
produce "true keys" for use to encrypt/decrypt information for 
secure communications. The predetermined algorithm can "age" 
these keys the same way in all PPEs 650, or PPEs 650 can be 
required to contact a VDE administrator at some predetermined 
time so a new set of partial communications keys can be 
downloaded to the PPEs. If the PPE 650 does not generate or 
otherwise obtain "new" partial keys, then it will be disabled from 
communicating with other PPEs (a further, "fail safe" key may be 
provided to ensure that the PPE can communicate with a VDE 
administrator for reinitialization purposes). Two sets of partial 
keys can be maintained within a PPE 650 to allow a fixed amount 
of overlap time across all VDE appliances 600. The older of the 
two sets of partial keys can be updated periodically. 


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The following additional types of keys (to be discussed 
below) can also be "aged" in the preferred embodiment: 

individual message keys (i.e., keys used for a particular 
message), 

administrative, stationary and travelling object shared keys, 
secure database keys, and 
private body and content keys. 

Initial Installation Key Management 

Figure 64 shows the flow of universe-wide, or "master," keys 
during creating of a PPE 650. In the preferred embodiment, the 
PPE 650 contains a secure non-volatile key storage 2802 (e.g. SPU 
500 non-volatile RAM 534 B or protected storage maintained by 
HPE 655) that is initialized with keys generated by the 
manufacturer and by the PPE itself. 

The manufacturer possesses (i.e., knows, and protects from 
disclosure or modification) one or more public key 2811/private key 
2812 key pairs used for signing and validating site identification 
certificates 2821. For each site, the manufacturer generates a site 
ID 2821 and list of site characteristics 2822. In addition, the 
manufacturer possesses the public keys 2813, 2814 for validating 
load modules and initialization code downloads. To enhance 
security, there may be a plurality of such certification keys, and 
each PPE 650 may be initialized using only a subset of such keys 
of each type. 

As part of the initialization process, the PPE 650 may 
generate internally or the manufacturer may generate and supply, 


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• 


one or more pairs of site-specific public keys 2815 and private keys 
2816. These are used by the PPE 650 to prove its identity. 
Similarly, site-specific database key(s) 2817 for the site are 
generated, and if needed (i.e., if a Random Number Generator 542 
is not available), a random initialization seed 2818 is generated. 

The initialization may begin by generating site ID 2821 and 
characteristics 2822 and the site public key 2815/private key 2816 
pair(s). These values are combined and may be used to generate 
one or more site identity certificates 2823. The site identity 
certificates 2823 may be generated by the public key generation 
process 2804, and may be stored both in the PPE's protected key 
storage 2802 and in the manufacturer's VDE site certificate 
database 2803. 

The certification process 2804 may be performed either by 
the manufacturer or internally to the PPE 650. If performed by 
the PPE 650, the PPE will temporarily receive the identity 
certification private key(s) 2812, generate the certificate 2823, 
store the certificate in local key storage 2802 and transmit it to 
the manufacturer, after which the PPE 650 must erase its copy of 
the identity certification private key(s) 2812. 

Subsequently, initialization may require generation, by the 
PPE 650 or by the manufacturer, of site-specific database key(s) 
2817 and of site-specific seed value(s) 2818, which are stored in 
the key storage 2802. In addition, the download certification 
key(s) 2814 and the load module certification key(s) 2813 may be 
supplied by the manufacturer and stored in the key storage 2802. 


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These may be used by the PPE 650 to validate all further 
communications with external entities. 

At this point, the PPE 650 may be further initialized with 
executable code and data by downloading information certified by 
the load module key(s) 2813 and download key(s) 2814. In the 
preferred embodiment, these keys may be used to digitally sign 
data to be loaded into the PPE 650, guaranteeing its validity, and 
additional key(s) encrypted using the site-specific public key(s) 
2815 may be used to encrypt such data and protect it from 
disclosure. 

Installation and Update Key Management 

Figure 65 illustrates an example of further key installation 
either by the manufacturer or by a subsequent update by a VDE 
administrator. The manufacturer or administrator may supply 
initial or new values for private header keyis) 2831, external 
communication key(s) 2832, administrative object keys 2833, or 
other shared key(s) 2834. These keys may be universe-wide in the 
same sense as the global certification keys 2811, 2813, and 2814, 
or they may be restricted to use within a defined group of VDE 
instances. 

To perform this installation, the installer retrieves the 
destination site's identity certificate(s) 2823, and from that 
extracts the site public key(s) 2815. These key(s) may be used in 
an encryption process 2841 to protect the keys being installed. 
The key(s) being installed are then transmitted inside the 
destination site's PPE 650. Inside the PPE 650, the decryption 


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process 2842 may use the site private key(s) 2816 to decrypt the 
transmission. The PPE 650 then stores the installed or updated 
keys in its key storage 2802. 

Object-Specific Key Use 

Figures 66 and 67 illustrate the use of keys in protecting 
data and control information associated with VDE objects 300, 

Figure 66 shows use of a stationary content object 850 
whose control information is derived from an administrative object 
870. The objects may be received by the PPE 650 (e.g., by 
retrieval from an object repository 728 over a network or retrieved 
from local storage). The administrative object decryption process 
2843 may use the private header key(s) 2815 to decrypt the 
administrative object 870, thus retrieving the PERC 808 governing 
access to the content object 850. The private body key(s) 810 may 
then be extracted from the PERC 808 and used by the content 
decryption process 2845 to make the content available outside the 
PPE 650. In addition, the database key(s) 2817 may be used by 
the encryption process 2844 to prepare the PERC for storage 
outside the PPE 650 in the secure database 610. In subsequent 
access to the content object 850, the PERC 808 may be retrieved 
from the secure database 610, decrypted with database key(s) 
2817, and used directly, rather than being extracted from 
administrative object 870. 

Figure 67 shows the similar process involving a traveling 
object 860. The principal distinction between Figures 66 and 67 is 
that the PERC 808 is stored directly within the traveling object 


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860, and therefore may be used immediately after the decryption 
process 2843 to provide a private header key(s) 2831. This private 
header key 283 lis used to process content within the traveling 
object 860. 

Secret-Key Variations 

Figures 64 through 67 illustrate the preferred public-key 
embodiment, but may also be used to help understand the secret- 
key versions. In secret-key embodiments, the certification process 
and the public key encryptions/decryptions are replaced with 
private-key encryptions, and the public key/private-key pairs are 
replaced with individual secret keys that are shared between the 
PPE 650 instance and the other parties (e.g., the load module 
suppliers), the PPE manufacturer). In addition, the certificate 
generation process 2804 is not performed in secret-key 
embodiments, and no site identity certificates 2823 or VDE 
certificate database 2803 exist. 

Key Types 

The detailed descriptions of key types below further explain 
secret-key embodiments; this summary is not intended as a 
complete description.The preferred embodiment PPE 650 can use 
different types of keys and/or different "shared secrets" for 
different purposes. Some key types apply to a Public-Key/Secret 
Key implementation, other keys apply to a Secret Key only 


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implementation, and still other key types apply to both. The 
following table lists examples of various key and "shared secret" 
information used in the preferred embodiment, and where this 
information is used and stored: 


Key/Secret Information Type 

Used in PK or Non- 
PK 

Example Storage Location(a) 

Master Key(s) (may include 
some of the specific keys 
mentioned below) 

Both 

PPE 

- Manufacturing facility 
VDE administrator 

Manufacturing Key 

Both (PK optional) 

PPE (PK case) 
Manufacturing facility 

Certification key pair 

PIT 

DDT? 

Certification reDositorv 

Public/private key pair 

PK 

PPE 

Certification renositorv (Public TCev 

only) 

Initial secret key 

Non-PK 

PPE 

PPE manufacturing ID 

Non-PK 

PPE 

Site ID, shared code, shared 
keys and shared secrets 

Both 

PPE 

Download authorization key 

Both 

PPE 

VDE administrator 

External communication 
keys and other info 

Both 

PPE 

Secure Database 

Administrative object keys 

Both 

Permission record 

Stationary object keys 

Both 

Permission record 

Traveling object shared keys 

Both 

Permission record 

Secure database keys 

Both 

PPE 

Private body keys 

Both 

Secure database 
Some objects 

Content keys 

Both 

Secure database * 
Some objects 

Authorization shared secrets 

Both 

Permission record 

Secure Database Back up 
keys 

Both 

PPE 

Secure database 


Master Keys 

A "master" key is a key used to encrypt other keys. An 
initial or "master" key may be provided within PPE 650 for 
communicating other keys in a secure way. During initialization 


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of PPE 650, code and shared keys are downloaded to the PPE. 
Since the code contains secure convolution algorithms and/or 
coefficients, it is comparable to a "master key." The shared keys 
may also be considered "master keys." 

If public-key cryptography is used as the basis for external 
communication with PPE 650, then a master key is required 
during the PPE Public-key pair certification process. This master 
key may be, for example, a private key used by the manufacturer 
or VDE administrator to establish the digital certificate (encrypted 
public key and other information of the PPE), or it may, as 
another example, be a private key used by a VDE administrator to 
encrypt the entries in a certification repository. Once certification 
has occurred, external communications between PPEs 650 may be 
established using the certificates of communicating PPEs. 

If shared secret keys are used as the basis for external 
communications, then an initial secret key is required to establish 
external communications for PPE 650 initialization. This initial 
secret key is a "master key" in the sense that it is used to encrypt 
other keys. A set of shared partial external communications keys 
(see discussion above) may be downloaded during the PPE 
initialization process, and these keys are used to establish 
subsequent external PPE communications. 

Manufacturing Key 

A manufacturing key is used at the time of PPE 
manufacture to prevent knowledge by the manufacturing staff of 
PPE-specific key information that is downloaded into a PPE at 
initialization time. For example, a PPE 650 that operates as part 


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of the manufacturing facility may generate information for 
download into the PPE being initialized. This information must be 
encrypted during communication between the PPEs 650 to keep it 
confidential, or otherwise the manufat Lining staff could read the 
information. A manufacturing key is used to protect the 
information. The manufacturing key may be used to protect 
various other keys downloaded into the PPE such as, for example, 
a certification private key, a PPE public/private key pair, and/or 
other keys such as shared secret keys specific to the PPE. Since 
the manufacturing key is used to encrypt other keys, it is a 
"master key. a 

A manufacturing key may be public-key based, or it may be 
based on a shared secret. Once the information is downloaded, the 
now-initialized PPE 650 can discard (or simply not use) the 
manufacturing key. A manufacturing key may be hardwired into 
PPE 650 at manufacturing time, or sent to the PPE as its first key 
and discarded after it is no longer needed. As indicated in the 
table above and in the preceding discussion, a manufacturing key 
is not required if PK capabilities are included in the PPE. 

Certification Key Pair 

A certification key pair may be used as part of a 
"certification" process for PPEs 650 and VDE electronic appliances 
600. This certification process in the preferred embodiment may 
be used to permit a VDE electronic appliance to present one or 
more "certificates" authenticating that it (or its key) can be 
trusted. As described above, this "certification* 1 process may be 
used by one PPE 650 to "certify* that it is an authentic VDE PPE, 
it has a certain level of security and capability set (e.g., it is 


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hardware based rather than merely software based), etc. Briefly, 
the "certification" process may involve using a certificate private 
key of a certification key pair to encrypt a message including 
another VDE node's public-key. The private key of a certification 
key pair is preferably used to generate a PPE certificate. It is 
used to encrypt a public-key of the PPE. A PPE certificate can 
either be stored in the PPE, or it may be stored in a certification 
repository. 

Depending on the authentication technique chosen, the 
public key and the private key of a certification key pair may need 
to be protected. In the preferred embodiment, the certification 
public key(s) is distributed amongst PPEs such that they may 
make use of them in decrypting certificates as an aspect of 
authentication. Since, in the preferred embodiment, this public 
key is used inside a PPE 650, there is no need for this public key 
to be available in plaintext, and in any event it is important that 
such key be maintained and transmitted with integrity (e.g., 
during initialization and/or update by a VDE administrator). If 
the certification public key is kept confidential (i.e., only available 
in plaintext inside the PPE 650), it may make cracking security 
much more difficult. The private key of a certification key pair 
should be kept confidential and only be stored by a certifying 
authority (i.e., should not be distributed). 

In order to allow, in the preferred embodiment, the ability to 
differentiate installations with different levels/degrees of 
trustedness/security, different certification key pairs may be used 
(e.g., different certification keys may be used to certify SPEs 503 
then are used to certify HPEs 655). 


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PPE Public/Private Key Pair 

In the preferred embodiment, each PPE 650 may have its 
own unique "device" (and/or user) public/private key pair. 
Preferably, the private key of this key pair is ge: crated within the 
PPE and is never exposed in any form outside of the PPE. Thus, 
in one embodiment, the PPE 650 may be provided with an internal 
capability for generating key pairs internally. If the PPE 
generates its own public-key crypto-system key pairs internally, a 
manufacturing key discussed above may not be needed. If desired, 
however, for cost reasons a key pair may be exposed only at the 
time a PPE 650 is manufactured, and may be protected at that 
time using a manufacturing key. Allowing PPE 650 to generate 
its public key pair internally allows the key pair to be concealed, 
but may in some applications be outweighed by the cost of putting 
a public-key key pair generator into PPE 650. 

Initial Secret Key 

The initial secret key is used as a master key by a secret 
key only based PPE 650 to protect information downloaded into 
the PPE during initialization. It is generated by the PPE 650, and 
is sent from the PPE to a secure manufacturing database 
encrypted using a manufacturing key. The secure database sends 
back a unique PPE manufacturing ID encrypted using the initial 
secret key in response. 

The initial secret key is likely to be a much longer key than 
keys used for "standard" encryption due to its special role in PPE 
initialization. Since the resulting decryption overhead occurs only 
during the initialization process, multiple passes through the 


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decryption hardware with selected portions of this key are 
tolerable. 

PPE Manufacturing ID 

The PPE manufacturing ID is not a "key," but does fall 
within the classic definition of a "shared secret." It preferably 
uniquely identifies a PPE 650 and may be used by the secure 
database 610 to determine the PPE's initial secret key during the 
PPE initialization process. 

Site ID, Shared Code, Shared Keys and Shared Secrets 

The VDE site ID along with shared code, keys and secrets 
are preferably either downloaded into PPE 650 during the PPE 
initialization process, or are generated internally by a PPE as part 
of that process. In the preferred embodiment, most or all of this 
information is downloaded. 

The PPE site ID uniquely identifies the PPE 650. The site 
ID is preferably unique so as to uniquely identify the PPE 650 and 
distinguish that PPE from all other PPEs. The site ID in the 
preferred embodiment provides a unique address that may be used 
for various purposes, such as for example to provide "address 
privacy* functions. In some cases, the site ID may be the public 
key of the PPE 650. In other cases, the PPE site ID may be 
assigned during the manufacturing and/or initialization process. 
In the case of a PPE 650 that is not public-key-capable, it would 
not be desirable to use the device secret key as the unique site ID 
because this would expose too many bits of the key — and therefore 
a different information string should be used as the site ID. 


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Shared code comprises those code fragments that provide at 
least a portion of the control program for the PPE 650. In the 
preferred embodiment, a basic code fragment is installed during 
PPE manufacturing that permits the PPE to bootstrap and begin 
the initialization process. This fragment can be replaced during 
the initialization process, or during subsequent download 
processing, with updated control logic. 

Shared keys may be downloaded into PPE 650 during the 
initialization process. These keys may be used, for example, to 
decrypt the private headers of many object structures. 

When PPE 650 is operating in a secret key only mode, the 
initialization and download processes may import shared secrets 
into the PPE 650. These shared secrets may be used during 
communications processes to permit PPEs 650 to authenticate the 
identity of other PPEs and/or users. 

Download Authorization Key 

The download authorization key is received by PPE 650 
during the initialization download process. It is used to authorize 
further PPE 650 code updates, key updates, and may also be used 
to protect PPE secure database 610 backup to allow recovery by a 
VDE administrator (for example) if the PPE fails. It may be used 
along with the site ID, time and convolution algorithm to derive a 
site ID specific key. The download authorization key may also be 
used to encrypt the key block used to encrypt secure database 610 
backups. It may also be used to form a site specific key that is 
used to enable future downloads to the PPE 650. This download 
authorization key is not shared among all PPEs 650 in the 


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preferred embodiment; it is specific to functions performed by 
authorized VDE administrators. 

External Communications Keys and Related Secret and Public 
Information 

There are several cases where keys are required when PPEs 
650 communicate. The process of establishing secure 
communications may also require the use of related public and 
secret information about the communicating electronic appliances 
600. The external communication keys and other information are 
used to support and authenticate secure communications. These 
keys comprise a public-key pair in the preferred embodiment 
although shared secret keys may be used alternatively or in 
addition. 

Administrative Object Keys 

In the preferred embodiment, an administrative object 
shared key may be used to decrypt the private header of an 
administrative object 870. In the case of administrative objects, a 
permissions record 808 may be present in the private header. In 
some cases, the permissions record 808 may be distributed as (or 
within) an administrative object that performs the function of 
providing a right to process the content of other administrative 
objects. The permissions record 808 preferably contains the keys 
for the private body, and the keys for the content that can be 
accessed would be budgets referenced in that permissions record 
808. The administrative object shared keys may incorporate time 
as a component, and may be replaced when expired. 


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Stationary Object Keys 

A stationaxy object shared key may be used to decrypt a 
private header of stationary objects 850. As explained above, in 
some cases a permissions record 808 may be present in the private 
header of stationary objects. If present, the permissions record 
808 may contain the keys for the private body but will not contain 
the keys for the content. These shared keys may incorporate time 
as a component, and may be replaced when expired. 

Traveling Object Shared Keys 

A traveling object shared key may be used to decrypt the 
private header of traveling objects 860. In the preferred 
embodiment, traveling objects contain permissions record 808 in 
their private headers. The permissions record 808 preferably 
contains the keys for the private body and the keys for the content 
that can be accessed as permitted by the permissions record 808. 
These shared keys may incorporate time as a component, and 
may be replaced when expired. 

Secure Database Keys 

PPE 650 preferably generates these secure database keys 
and never exposes them outside of the PPE. They are site-specific 
in the preferred embodiment, and may be "aged" as described 
above. As described above, each time an updated record is written 
to secure database 610, a new key may be used and kept in a key 
list within the PPE. Periodically (and when the internal list has 
no more room), the PPE 650 may generate a new key to encrypt 
new or old records. A group of keys may be used instead of a 
single key, depending on the size of the secure database 610. 


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Private Body Keys 

Private body keys are unique to an object 300, and are not 
dependent on key information shared between PPEs 650. They 
are preferably generated by the PPE 650 at the time the private 
body is encrypted, and may incorporate real-time as a component 
to "age" them. They are received in permissions records 808, and 
their usage may be controlled by budgets. 

Content Keys 

Content Keys are unique to an object 300, and are not 
dependent on key information shared between PPEs 650. They 
are preferably generated by the PPE 650 at the time the content is 
encrypted. They may incorporate time as a component to "age" 
them. They are received in permissions records 808, and their 
usage may be controlled by budgets. 

Authorization Shared Secrets 

Access to and use of information within a PPE 650 or within 
a secure database 610 may be controlled using authorization 
"shared secrets" rather than keys. Authorization shared secrets 
may be stored within the records they authorize (permissions 
records 808, budget records, etc.). The authorization shared secret 
may be formulated when the corresponding record is created. 
Authorization shared secrets can be generated by an authorizing 
PPE 650, and may be replaced when record updates occur. 
Authorization shared secrets have some characteristics associated 
with "capabilities" used in capabilities based operating systems. 
Access tags (described below) are an important set of authorization 
shared secrets in the preferred embodiment. 


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Backup Keys 

As described above, the secure database 610 backup consists 
of reading all secure database records and current audit "roll ups a 
stored in both PPE 650 and externally. Then, the backup process 
decrypts and re-encrypts this information using a new set of 
generated keys. These keys, the time of the backup, and other 
appropriate information to identify the backup, may be encrypted 
multiple times and stored with the previously encrypted secure 
database files and roll up data within the backup files. These files 
may then all be encrypted using a "backup key" that is generated 
and stored within PPE 650. This backup key 500 may be used by 
the PPE to recover a backup if necessary. The backup keys may 
also be securely encrypted (e.g., using a download authentication 
key and/or a VDE administrator public key) and stored within the 
backup itself to permit a VDE administrator to recover the backup 
in case of PPE 650 failure. 

Cryptographic Sealing 

Sealing is used to protect the integrity of information when 
it may be subjected to modifications outside the control of the PPE 
650, either accidentally or as an attack on the VDE security. Two 
specific applications may be the computation of check values for 
database records and the protection of data blocks that are 
swapped out of an SPE 500. 

There are two types of sealing: keyless sealing, also known 
as cryptographic hashing, and keyed sealing. Both employ a 
cryptographically strong hash function, such as MD5 or SHA. 
Such a function takes an input of arbitrary size and yields a fixed- 
size hash, or "digest." The digest has the property that it is 


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infeasible to compute two inputs that yield the same digest, and 
infeasible to compute one input that yields a specific digest value, 
where "infeasible" is with reference to a work factor based on the 
size of the digest value in bits. If, for example, a 256-bit hash 
function is to be called strong, it must require approximately on 
average 10 A 38 (2 A 128) trials before a duplicated or specified digest 
value is likely to be produced. 

Keyless seals may be employed as check values in database 
records (e.g., in PERC 808) and similar applications. A keyless 
seal may be computed based on the content of the body of the 
record, and the seal stored with the rest of the record. The 
combination of seal and record may be encrypted to protect it in 
storage. If someone modifies the encrypted record without 
knowing the encryption key (either in the part representing the 
data or the part representing the seal), the decrypted content will 
be different, and the decrypted check value will not match the 
digest computed from the record's data. Even though the hash 
algorithm is known, it is not feasible to modify both the record's 
data and its seal to correspond because both are encrypted. 

Keyed seals may be employed as protection for data stored 
outside a protected environment without encryption, or as a 
validity proof between two protected environments. A keyed seal 
is computed similarly to a keyless seal, except that a secret initial 
value is logically prefixed to the data being sealed. The digest 
value thus depends both on the secret and the data, and it is 
infeasible to compute a new seal to correspond to modified data 
even though the data itself is visible to an attacker. A keyed seal 
may protect data in storage with a single secret value, or may 


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protect data in transit between two environments that share a 
single secret value. 

The choice of keys or keyless seals depends on the nature of 
the data being protected and whether it is additionally protected 
by encryption. 

Tagging 

Tagging is particularly useful for supporting the secure 
storage of important component assembly and related information 
on secondary storage memory 652. Integrated use of information 
"tagging" and encryption strategies allows use of inexpensive mass 
storage devices to securely store information that, in part enables, 
limits and/or records the configuration, management and operation 
of a VDE node and the use of VDE protected content. 

When encrypted or otherwise secured information is 
delivered into a user's secure VDE processing area (e.g., PPE 650), 
a portion of this information can be used as a "tag" that is first 
decrypted or otherwise unsecured and then compared to an 
expected value to confirm that the information represents expected 
information. The tag thus can be used as a portion of a process 
confirming the identity and correctness of received, VDE protected, 
information. 

Three classes of tags that may be included in the control 
structures of the preferred embodiment: 

• access tags 

• validation tags 

• correlation tags. 


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These tags have distinct purposes. 


An access tag may be used as a "shared secret" between 
VDE protected elements and entities authorized to read and/or 
modify the tagged element(s). The access tag may be broken into 
separate fields to control different activities independently. If an 
access tag is used by an element such as a method core 1000', 
administrative events that affect such an element must include 
the access tag (or portion of the access tag) for the affected 
element(s) and assert that tag when an event is submitted for 
processing. If access tags are maintained securely (e.g., created 
inside a PPE 650 when the elements are created, and only 
released from PPE 650 in encrypted structures), and only 
distributed to authorized parties, modification of structures can be 
controlled more securely. Of course, control structures (e.g., 
PERCs 808) may further limit or qualify modifications or other 
actions expressed in administrative events. 

Correlation tags are used when one element references 
another element. For example, a creator might be required by a 
budget owner to obtain permission and establish a business 
relationship prior to referencing their budget within the creator's 
PERCs. After such relationship was formed, the budget owner 
might transmit one or more correlation tags to the creator as one 
aspect of allowing the creator to produce PERCs that reference the 
budget owner's budget. 

Validation tags may be used to help detect record 
substitution attempts on the part of a tamperer. 


530 


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In some respects, these three classes of tags overlap in 
function. For example, a correlation tag mismatch may prevent 
some classes of modification attempts that would normally be 
prevented by an access tag mismatch before an access tag check is 
performed. The preferred embodiment may use this overlap in 
some cases to reduce overhead by, for example, using access tags 
in a role similar to validation tags as described above. 

In general, tagging procedures involve changing, within SPE 
503, encryption key(s), securing techniques(s), and/or providing 
specific, stored tag(s). These procedures can be employed with 
secure database 610 information stored on said inexpensive mass 
storage 652 and used within a hardware SPU 500 for 
authenticating, decrypting, or otherwise analyzing, using and 
making available VDE protected content and management 
database information. Normally, changing validation tags involves 
storing within a VDE node hardware (e.g., the PPE 650) one or 
more elements of information corresponding to the tagging 
changes. Storage of information outside of the hardware SPE's 
physically secure, trusted environment is a highly cost savings 
means of secure storage, and the security of important stored 
management database information is enhanced by this tagging of 
information. Performing this tagging "change" frequently (for 
example, every time a given record is decrypted) prevents the 
substitution of "incorrect" information for "correct" information, 
since said substitution will not carry information which will match 
the tagging information stored within the hardware SPE during 
subsequent retrieval of the information. 


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Another benefit of information tagging is the use of tags to 
help enforce and/or verify information and/or control mechanisms 
in force between two or more parties. If information is tagged by 
one party, and then passed to another party or parties, a tag can 
be used as an expected value associated with communications 
and/or transactions between the two parties regarding the tagged 
information. For example, if a tag is associated with a data 
element that is passed by Party A to Party B, Party B may require 
Party A to prove knowledge of the correct value of at least a 
portion of a tag before information related to, and/or part of, said 
data element is released by Party B to Party A, or vice versa. In 
another example, a tag may be used by Party A to verify that 
information sent by Party B is actually associated with, and/or 
part of, a tagged data element, or vice versa. 

Establishing A Secure, Authenticated, Communication Channel 

From time to time, two parties (e.g., PPEs A and B), will 
need to establish a communication channel that is known by both 
parties to be secure from eavesdropping, secure from tampering, 
and to be in use solely by the two parties whose identifies are 
correctly known to each other. 

The following describes an example process for establishing 
such a channel and identifies how the requirements for security 
and authentication may be established and validated by the 
parties. The process is described in the abstract, in terms of the 
claims and belief each party must establish, and is not to be taken 
as a specification of any particular protocol. In particular, the 
individual sub-steps of each step are not required to be 
implemented using distinct operations; in practice, the 


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establishment and validation of related proofs is often combined 
into a single operation. 

The sub-steps need not be performed in the order detailed 
below, except to the extent that the validity of a claim cannot be 
proven before the claim is made by the other party. The steps 
may involve additional communications between the two parties 
than are implied by the enumerated sub-steps, as the 
"transmission" of information may itself be broken into sub-steps. 
Also, it is not necessary to protect the claims or the proofs from 
disclosure or modification during transmission. Knowledge of the 
claims (including the specific communication proposals and 
acknowledgements thereof) is not considered protected 
information. Any modification of the proofs will cause the proofs 
to become invalid and will cause the process to fail. 

Standard public-key or secret-key cryptographic techniques 
can be used to implement this process (e.g., X.509, Authenticated 
Diffie-Hellman, Kerberos). The preferred embodiment uses the 
three-way X.509 public key protocol steps. 

The following may be the first two steps in the example 
process: 

A. (precursor step): Establish means of creating 
validatable claims by A 

B. (precursor step): Establish means of creating 
validatable claims by B 

These two steps ensure that each party has a means of 
making claims that can be validated by the other party, for 


533 


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instance, by using a public key signature scheme in which both 
parties maintain a private key and make available a public key 
that itself is authenticated by the digital signature of a 
certification authority. 

The next steps may be: 
A (proposal step) : 

1. Determine B's identity 

2. Acquire means of validating claims made by B 

3. Create a unique identity for this specific proposed 
communication 

4. Create a communication proposal identifying the 
parties and the specific communication 

5. Create validatable proof of A's identity and the origin 
of the communication proposal 

6. Deliver comibunication proposal and associated proof 
toB. 

These steps establish the identity of the correspondent party 
B and proposes a communication. Because establishment of the 
communication will require validation of claims made by B, a 
means must be provided for A to validate such claims. Because 
the establishment of the communication must be unique to a 
specific requirement by A for communication, this communication 
proposal and all associated traffic must be unambiguously 
distinguishable from all other such traffic. Because B must 
validate the proposal as a legitimate proposal from A, a proof must 
be provided that the proposal is valid. 


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The next steps may be as follows: 

R farlcnnwledffement step): 

1. Extract A's identity from the communication proposal 

2. Acquire means of validating claims made by A 

3. Validate A's claim of identity and communication 
proposal origin 

4. Determine the unique identification of the 
communication proposal 

5. Determine that the communication proposal does not 
duplicate an earlier proposal 

6. Create an acknowledgement identifying the specific 
communication proposal 

7. Create validatable proof of B's identity and the origin 
of the acknowledgement 

8. Deliver the acknowledgement and associated proof to 
A. 

These steps establish that party B has received A's 
communication proposal and is prepared to act on it. Because B 
must validate the proposal, B must first determine its origin and 
validate its authenticity. B must ensure that its response is 
associated with a specific proposal, and that the proposal is not a 
replay. If B accepts the proposal, it must prove both B's own 
identity and that B has received a specific proposal. 

The next steps may be: 
A (establishment step): 
1. Validate B's claim acknowledgement of A's specific 
proposal 


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2. Extract the identity of the specific communication 
proposal from the acknowledgement 

3. Determine that the acknowledgement is associated 
with an outstanding communication proposal 

4. Create unique session key to be used for the proposed 
communication 

5. Create proof of session key's creation by A 

6. Create proof of session key's association with the 
specific communication proposal 

7. Create proof of receipt of B's acknowledgement 

8. Protect the session key from disclosure in 
transmission 

9. Protect the session key from modification in 
transmission 

10. Deliver protected session key and all proofs to B. 

These steps allows A to specify a session key to be 
associated with all further traffic related to A's specific 
communication proposal. A must create the key, prove that A 
created it, and prove that it is associated with the specific 
proposed communication. In addition, A must prove that the 
session key is generated in response to B's acknowledgement of 
the proposal. The session key must be protected from disclosure of 
modification to ensure that an attacker cannot substitute a 
different value. 

Transportability of VDE Installations Between PPEs 650 

In a preferred embodiment, VDE objects 300 and other 
secure information may if appropriate, be transported from one 
PPE 650 to another securely using the various keys outlined 


536 


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above. VDE 100 uses redistribution of VDE administrative 
information to exchange ownership of VDE object 300, and to 
allow the portability of objects between electronic appliances 600. 

The permissions record 808 of VDE objects 300 contains 
rights information that may be used to determine whether an 
object can be redistributed in whole, in part, or at all. If a VDE 
object 300 can be redistributed, then electronic appliance 600 
normally must have a Tbudget" and/or other permissioning that 
allows it to redistribute the object. For example, an electronic 
appliance 600 authorized to redistribute an object may create an 
administrative object containing a budget or rights less than or 
equal to the budget or rights that it owns. Some administrative 
objects may be sent to other PPEs 650. A PPE 650 that receives 
one of the administrative objects may have the ability to use at 
least a portion of the budgets, or rights, to related objects. 

Transfer of ownership of a VDE object 300 is a special case 
in which all of the permissions and/or budgets for a VDE object 
are redistributed to a different PPE 650. Some VDE objects may 
require that all object-related information be delivered (e.g., it's 
possible to "sell" all rights to the object). However, some VDE 
objects 300 may prohibit such a transfer. In the case of ownership 
transfer, the original providers for a VDE object 300 may need to 
be contacted by the new owner, informed of the transfer, and 
validated using an authorization shared secret that accompanies 
reauthorization, before transfer of ownership can be completed. 


When an electronic appliance 600 receives a component 
assembly, an encrypted part of the assembly may contain a value 


537 


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that is known only to the party or PPE 650 that supplied the 
assembly. This value may be saved with information that must 
eventually returned to the assembly supplier (e.g., audit, billing 
and related information). When a component supplier requests 
that information be reported, the value may be provided by the 
supplier so that the local electronic appliance 600 can check it 
against the originally supplied value to ensure that the request is 
legitimate. When a new component is received, the value may be 
checked against an old component to determine whether the new 
component is legitimate (e.g., the new value for use in the next 
report process may be included with the new component). 

Integrity of VDE Security 

There are many ways in which a PPE 650 might be 
compromised. The goal of the security provided by VDE 100 is to 
reduce the possibility that the system will be compromised, and 
minimize the adverse effects if it is compromised. 

The basic cryptographic algorithm that are used to 
implement VDE 100 are assumed to be safe (cryptographically 
strong). These include the secret-key encryption of content, public- 
key signatures for integrity verification, public-key encryption for 
privacy between PPEs 650 or between a PPE and a VDE 
administrator, etc. Direct attack on these algorithms is assumed 
to be beyond the capabilities of an attacker. For domestic versions 
of VDE 100 some of this is probably a safe assumption since the 
basic building blocks for control information have sufficiently long 
keys and are sufficiently proven. 


538 


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The following risks of threat or attacks may be significant: 

• Unauthorized creation or modification of component 
assemblies (e.g., budgets) 

• Unauthorized bulk disclosure of content 

• Compromise of one or more keys 

• Software emulation of a hardware PPE 

• Substitution of older records in place of newer records 

• Introduction of "rogue" (i.e., unauthentic) load modules 

• Replay attacks 

• Defeating "fingerprinting" 

• Unauthorized disclosure of individual content items 

• Redistribution of individual content items. 

A significant potential security breach would occur if one or 
more encryption keys are compromised. As discussed above, 
however, the encryption keys used by VDE 100 are sufficiently 
varied and compartmentalized so that compromising one key 
would have only limited value to an attacker in most cases. For 
example, if a certification private key is exposed, an attacker could 
pass the challenge/response protocol as discussed above but would 
then confront the next level of security that would entail cracking 
either the initialization challenge/response or the external 
communication keys. If the initialization challenge/response 
security is also defeated, the initialization code and various 
initialization keys would also be exposed. However, it would still 
be necessary to understand the code and data to find the shared 
VDE keys and to duplicate the key-generation ("convolution") 
algorithms. In addition, correct real time clock values must be 
maintained by the spoof. If the attacker is able to accomplish all 
of this successfully, then all secure communications to the bogus 


539 


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PPE would be compromised. An object would be compromised if 
communications related to the permissions record 808 of that 
object are sent to the bogus PPE. 

Knowledge of the PPE download authorization key and the 
algorithms that are used to derive the key that encrypts the keys 
for backup of secured database 610 would compromise the entire 
secured database at a specific electronic appliance 600. However, 
in order to use this information to compromise content of VDE 
objects 300, an understanding of appropriate VDE internals would 
also be required. In a preferred embodiment, the private body 
keys and content keys stored in a secured database 610 are "aged" 
by including a time component. Time is convoluted with the 
stored values to derive the "true keys* needed to decrypt content. 
If this process is also compromised, then object content or methods 
would be revealed. Since a backup of secured database 610 is not 
ever restored to a PPE 650 in the preferred embodiment without 
the intervention of an authorized VDE administrator, a "bogus" 
PPE would have to be used to make use of this information. 

External communication shared keys are used in the 
preferred embodiment in conjunction with a key convolution 
algorithm based on site ID and time. If compromised, all of the 
steps necessary to allow communications with PPEs 650 must also 
be known to take advantage of this knowledge. In addition, at 
least one of the administrative object shared keys must be 
compromised to gain access to a decrypted permissions record 808. 

Compromising an administrative object shared key has no 
value unless the "cracker 0 also has knowledge of external 


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• 


communication keys. All administrative objects are encrypted by 
unique keys exchanged using the shared external communications 
keys, site ID and time. Knowledge of PPE 650 internal details 
would be necessary to further decrypt the content of 
administrative objects. 

The private header of a stationary object (or any other 
stationary object that uses the same shared key) if compromised, 
may provide the attacker with access to content until the shared 
key "ages" enough to no longer decrypt the private header. 
Neither the private body nor the content of the object is exposed 
unless a permissions record 808 for that object is also 
compromised. The private headers of these objects may remain 
compromised until the key "ages* enough to no longer decrypt the 
private header. 

Secure database encryption keys in the preferred 
embodiment are frequently changing and are also site specific. 
The consequences of compromising a secured database 610 file or a 
record depends on the information that has been compromised. 
For example, permissions record 808 contain keys for the public 
body and content of a VDE object 300. If a permissions record 808 
is compromised, the aspects of that object protected by the keys 
provided by the permissions record are also compromised — if the 
algorithm that generates the "true keys* is also known. If a 
private body key becomes known, the private body of the object is 
compromised until the key "ages 41 and expires. If the "aging" 
process for that key is also compromised, the breach is permanent. 
Since the private body may contain methods that are shared by a 
number of different objects, these methods may also become 


(0064091.01) 


compromised. When the breach is detected, all administrative 
objects that provide budgets and permissions record should update 
the compromised methods. Methods stored in secure database 610 
are only replaced by more recent versions, so the compromised 
version becomes unusable after the update is completed. 

If a content key becomes compromised, the portion of the 
content encrypted with the key is also compromised until the key 
"ages* and expires. If the "aging* process for that key also 
becomes compromised, then the breach becomes permanent. If 
multiple levels of encryption are used, or portions of the content 
are encrypted with different keys, learning a single key would be 
insufficient to release some or all of the content. 

If an authorization shared secret (e.g., an access tag) 
becomes known, the record containing the secret may be modified 
by an authorized means if the "cracker" knows how to properly use 
the secret. Generally speaking, the external communications keys, 
the administrative object keys and the management file keys must 
also be "cracked" before a shared secret is useful. Of course, any 
detailed knowledge of the protocols would also be required to make 
use of this information. 

In the preferred embodiment, PPE 650 may detect whether 
or not it has become compromised. For example, by comparing 
information stored in an SPE 503 (e.g., summary service 
information) with information stored in secure database 610 and/or 
transmitted to a VDE participant (e.g., a VDE clearinghouse), 
discrepancies may become evident. If PPE 650 (or a VDE 
administrator watching its activities or communicating with it) 


542 


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detects that it has been compromised, it may be updated with an 
initialization to use new code, keys and hew encryption/decryption 
algorithms. This would limit exposure to VDE objects 300 that 
existed at the time the encryption scheme was broken. It is 
possible to require the PPE 650 to cease functioning after a certain 
period of time unless new code and key downloads occur. It is also 
possible to have VDE administrators force updates to occur. It is 
also likely that the desire to acquire a new VDE object 300 will 
provide an incentive for users to update their PPEs 650 at regular 
time intervals. 

Finally, the end-to-end nature of VDE applications, in which 
content 108 flows in one direction, generating reports and bills 118 
in the other, makes it possible to perform "back-end" consistency 
checks. Such checks, performed in clearinghouses 116, can detect 
patterns of use that may or do indicate fraud (e.g., excessive 
acquisition of protected content without any corresponding 
payment, usage records without corresponding billing records). 
The fine grain of usage reporting and the ready availability of 
usage records and reports in electronic form enables sophisticated 
fraud detection mechanisms to be built so that fraud-related costs 
can be kept to an acceptable level. 

PPE Initialization 

Each PPE 650 needs to be initialized before it can be used. 
Initialization may occur at the manufacturer site, after the PPE 
650 has been placed out in the field, or both. The manufacturing 
process for PPE 650 typically involves embedding within the PPE 
sufficient software that will allow the device to be more completely 
initialized at a later time. This manufacturing process may 


543 


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include, for example, testing the bootstrap loader and challenge- 
response software permanently stored within PPE 650, and 
loading the PPE's unique ID. These steps provide a basic VDE- 
capable PPE 650 that may be further initialized (e.g., after it has 
been installed within an electronic appliance 600 and placed in the 
field). In some cases, the manufacturing and further initialization 
processes may be combined to produce "VDE ready" PPEs 650. 
This description elaborates on the summary presented above with 
respect to Figures 64 and 65. 

Figure 68 shows an example of steps that may be performed 
in accordance with one preferred embodiment to initialize a PPE 
650. Some of the steps shown in this flowchart may be performed 
at the manufacturing site, and some may be performed remotely 
through contact between a VDE administrator and the PPE 650. 
Alternatively, all of the steps shown in the diagram may be 
performed at the manufacturing site, or all of the steps shown may 
be performed through remote communications between the 
PPE 500 and a VDE administrator. 

If the initialization process 1370 is being performed at the 
manufacturer, PPE 650 may first be attached to a testbed. The 
manufacturing testbed may first reset the PPE 650 (e.g., with a 
power on clear) (Block 1372). If this reset is being performed at 
the manufacturer, then the PPE 650 preferably executes a special 
testbed bootstrap code that completely tests the PPE operation 
from a software standpoint and fails if something is wrong with 
the PPE. A secure communications exchange may then be 
established between the manufacturing testbed and the PPE 650 
using an initial challenge-response interaction (Block 1374) that is 


544 


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preferably provided as part of the testbed bootstrap process. Once 
this secure communications has been established, the PPE 650 
may report the results of the bootstrap tests it has performed to 
the manufacturing testbed. Assuming the PPE 6c 0 has tested 
successfully, the manufacturing testbed may download new code 
into the PPE 650 to update its internal bootstrap code (Block 
1376) so that it does not go through the testbed bootstrap process 
upon subsequent resets (Block 1376). The manufacturing testbed 
may then load new firmware into the PPE internal non-volatile 
memory in order to provide additional standard and/or customized 
capabilities (Block 1378). For example, the manufacturing testbed 
may preload PPE 650 with the load modules appropriate for the 
particular manufacturing lot. This step permits the PPE 500 to be 
customized at the factory for specific applications. 

The manufacturing testbed may next load a unique device 
ID into PPE 650 (Block 1380). PPE 650 now carries a unique ID 
that can be used for further interactions. 

Blocks 1372-1380R typically are, in the preferred 
embodiment, performed at the manufacturing site. Blocks 1374 
and 1382-1388 may be performed either at the manufacturing site, 
after the PPE 650 has been deployed, or both. 

To further initialize PPE 650, once a secure communications 
has been established between the PPE and the manufacturing 
testbed or a VDE administrator (Block 1374), any required keys, 
tags or certificates are loaded into PPE 650 (Block 1382). For 
example, the manufacturing test bed may load its information into 
PPE 650 so the PPE may be initialized at a later time. Some of 


545 


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these values may be generated internally within PPE 650. The 
manufacturing testbed or VDE administrator may then initialize 
the PPE real time clock 528 to the current real time value (Block 
1384). This provides a time and date reference for the PPE 650. 
The manufacturing testbed or the VDE administrator may next 
initialize the summary values maintained internally to the 
PPE 500 (Block 1386). If the PPE 650 is already installed as part 
of an electronic appliance 600, the PPE may at' this point initialize 
its secure database 610 (Block 1388). 

Figure 69 shows an example of program control steps 
performed by PPE 650 as part of a firmware download process 
(See Figure 68, Block 1378). The PPE download process is used to 
load externally provided firmware and/or data elements into the 
PPE. Firmware loads may take two forms: permanent loads for 
software that remains resident in the PPE 650; and transient 
loads for software that is being loaded for execution. A related 
process for storing into the secure database 610 is performed for 
elements that have been sent to a VDE electronic appliance 600. 

PPE 650 automatically performs several checks to ensure 
that firmware being downloaded into the PPE has not been 
tampered with, replaced, or substituted before it was loaded. The 
download routine 1390 shown in the figure illustrates an example 
of such checks. Once the PPE 650 has received a new firmware 
item (Block 1392), it may check the item to ensure that it decrypts 
properly using the predetermined download or administrative 
object key (depending on the source of the element) (decision 
Block 1394). If the firmware decrypts properly Cyes a exits to 
decision Block 1394), the firmware as check valve may be 


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• 


calculated and compared against the check valve stored under the 
encryption wrapper of the firmware (decision Block 1396). If the 
two check summed values compare favorably ("yes" exit to decision 
Block 1396), then the PPE 650 may compare the public and 
private header identification tags associated with the firmware to 
ensure that the proper firmware was provided and had not been 
substituted (step not shown in the figure). Assuming this test also 
passes, the PPE 500 may calculate the digital signatures of the 
firmware (assuming digital signatures are supported by the PPE 
650 and the firmware is "signed") and may check the calculated 
signature to ensure that it compares favorably to the digital 
signatures under the firmware encryption wrapper (Blocks 1398, 
1400). If any of these tests fail, then the download will be aborted 
("fail" termination 1401). 

Assuming all of the tests described above pass, then PPE 
650 determines whether the firmware is to be stored within the 
PPE (e.g., an internal non-volatile memory), or whether it is to be 
stored in the secure database 610 (decision Block 1402). If the 
firmware is to be stored within the PPE ("yes" exit to decision 
Block 1402), then the PPE 500 may simply store the information 
internally (Block 1404). If the firmware is to be stored within the 
secure database 610 Cno" exit to decision Block 1402), then the 
firmware may be tagged with a unique PPE-specific tag designed 
to prevent record substitution (Block 1406), and the firmware may 
then be encrypted using the appropriate secure database key and 
released to the secure database 610 (Block 1408). 


547 


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Networking SPUs 500 and/or VDE Electronic Appliances 600 

In the context of many computers interconnected by a local 
or wide area network, it would be possible for one or a few of them 
to be VDE electronic appliances 600. For example, a VDE-capable 
server might include one or more SPUs 500. This centralized VDE 
server could provide all VDE services required within the network 
or it can share VDE service with VDE server nodes; that is, it can 
perform a few, some, or most VDE service activities. For example, 
a user's non-VDE computer could issue a request over the network 
for VDE-protected content. In response to the request, the VDE 
server could comply by accessing the appropriate VDE object 300, 
releasing the requested content and delivering the content over the 
network 672 to the requesting user. Such an arrangement would 
allow VDE capabilities to be easily integrated into existing 
networks without requiring modification or replacement of the 
various computers and other devices connected to the networks. 

For example, a VDE server having one or more protected 
processing environments 650 could communicate over a network 
with workstations that do not have a protected processing 
environment. The VDE server could perform all secure VDE 
processing, and release resulting content and other information to 
the workstations on the network. This arrangement would require 
no hardware or software modification to the workstations. 

However, some applications may require greater security, 
flexibility and/or performance that may be obtained by providing 
multiple VDE electronic appliances 600 connected to the same 
network 672. Because commonly-used local area networks 
constitute an insecure channel that may be subject to tampering 


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and/or eavesdropping, it is desirable in most secure applications to 
protect the information communicated across the network. It 
would be possible to use conventional network security techniques 
to protect VDE-released content or other VDE information 
communicated across a network 672 between a VDE electronic 
appliance 600 and a non-VDE electronic appliance. However, 
advantages are obtained by providing multiple networked VDE 
electronic appliances 600 within the same system. 

As discussed above in connection with Figure 8, multiple 
VDE electronic appliances 600 may communicate with one another 
over a network 672 or other communications path. Such 
networking of VDE electronic appliances 600 can provide 
advantages. Advantages include, for example, the possibility of 
centralizing VDE resources, storing and/or archiving metering 
information on a server VDE and delivering information and 
services efficiently across the network 672 to multiple electronic 
appliances 600. 

For example, in a local area network topology, a "VDE 
server" electronic appliance 600 could store VDE-protected 
information and make it available to one or more additional 
electronic appliances 600 or computers that may communicate 
with the server over network 672. As one example, an object 
repository 728 storing VDE objects could be maintained at the 
centralized server, and each of many networked electronic 
appliance 600 users could access the centralized object repository 
over the network 672 as needed. When a user needs to access a 
particular VDE object 300, her electronic appliance 600 could issue 
a request over network 672 to obtain a copy of the object. The 


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• 


"VDE server" could deliver all or a portion of the requested object 
300 in response to the request. Providing such a centralized object 
repository 728 would have the advantage of minimizing mass 
storage requirements local to each electronic appliance 600 
connected to the network 672, eliminate redundant copies of the 
same information, ease information management burdens, provide 
additional physical and/or other security for particularly important 
VDE processes and/or information occurring at the server, where 
providing such security at VDE nodes may be commercially 
impractical for certain business models, etc. 

It may also be desirable to centralize secure database 610 in 
a local area network topology. For example, in the context of a 
local area network, a secure database 610 server could be provided 
at a centralized location. Each of several electronic appliances 600 
connected to a local area network 672 could issue requests for 
secure database 610 records over the network, and receive those 
records via the network. The records could be provided over the 
network in encrypted form. "Keys" needed to decrypt the records 
could be shared by transmitting them across the network in secure 
communication exchanges. Centralizing secure database 610 in a 
network 672 has potential advantages of minimizing or 
eliminating secondary storage and/or other memory requirements 
for each of the networked electronic appliances 600, avoiding 
redundant information storage, allowing centralized backup 
services to be provided, easing information management burdens, 
etc. 

One way to inexpensively and conveniently deploy multiple 
instances of VDE electronic appliances 600 across a network would 


550 


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be to provide network workstations with software defining an HPE 
655. This arrangement requires no hardware modification of the 
workstations; an HPE 655 can be defined using software only. An 
SPE(s) 503 and/or HPE(s) 655 could also be provided within a 
VDE server. This arrangement has the advantage of allowing 
distributed VDE network processing without requiring 
workstations to be customized or modified (except for loading a 
new program(s) into them). VDE functions requiring high levels of 
security may be restricted to an SPU-based VDE server. "Secure" 
HPE-based workstations could perform VDE functions requiring 
less security, and could also coordinate their activities with the 
VDE server. 

Thus, it may be advantageous to provide multiple VDE 
electronic appliances 600 within the same network. It may also be 
advantageous to provide multiple VDE electronic appliances 600 
within the same workstation or other electronic appliance 600. 
For example, an electronic appliance 600 may include multiple 
electronic appliances 600 each of which have a SPU 500 and are 
capable of performing VDE functions. 

For example, one or more VDE electronic appliances 600 can 
be used as input/output device(s) of a computer system. This may 
eliminate the need to decrypt information in one device and then 
move it in unencrypted form across some bus or other unsecured 
channel to another device such as a peripheral. If the peripheral 
device itself is a VDE electronic appliance 600 having a SPU 500, 
VDE-protected information may be securely sent to the peripheral 
across the insecure channel for processing (e.g., decryption) at the 
peripheral device. Giving the peripheral device the capability of 


551 


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handling VDE-protected information directly also increases 
flexibility. For example, the VDE electronic appliance 600 
peripheral device may control VDE object 300 usage. It may, for 
example, meter the usage o* other parameters associated with the 
information it processes, and it may gather audit trials and other 
information specific to the processing it performs in order to 
provide greater information gathering about VDE object usage. 
Providing multiple cooperating VDE electronic appliances 600 may 
also increase performance by eliminating the need to move 
encrypted information to a VDE electronic appliance 600 and then 
move it again in unencrypted form to a non-VDE device. The 
VDE-protected information can be moved directly to its destination 
device which, if VDE-capable, may directly process it without 
requiring involvement by some other VDE electronic appliance 


Figure 70 shows an example of an arrangement 2630 
comprising multiple VDE electronic appliances 600(1), 600(2), 
600(3), . . . , 600(N). VDE electronic appliances 600(1) . . . 600(N) 
may communicate with one another over a communications path 
2631 (e.g., the system bus of a work station, a telephone or other 
wire, a cable, a backplane, a network 672, or any other 
communications mechanism). Each of the electronic appliances 
600 shown in the figure may have the same general architecture 
shown in Figure 8, i.e., they may each include a CPU (or 
microcontroller) 654, SPU 500, RAM 656, ROM 658, and system 
bus 653. Each of the electronic appliances 600 shown in the figure 
may have an interface/controller 2632 (which may be considered to 
be a particular kind of I/O controller 660 and/or communications 
controller 666 shown in Figure 8). This interface/controller 2632 


600. 


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provides an interface between the electronic appliance system bus 
653 and an appropriate electrical connector 2634. Electrical 
connectors 2634 of each of the respective electronic appliances 
600(1), . . . 600(N) provide a connection to a common network 672 
or other communication paths. 

Although each of electronic appliances 600 shown in the 
figure may have a generally similar architecture, they may 
perform different specialized tasks. For example, electronic 
appliance 600(1) might comprise a central processing section of a 
workstation responsible for managing the overall operation of the 
workstation and providing computation resources. Electronic 
appliance 600(2) might be a mass storage device 620 for the same 
workstation, and could provide a storage mechanism 2636 that 
might, for example, read information from and write information 
to a secondary storage device 652. Electronic appliance 600(3) 
might be a display device 614 responsible for performing display 
tasks, and could provide a displaying mechanism 2638 such as a 
graphics controller and associated video or other display. 
Electronic appliance 600(N) might be a printer 622 that performs 
printing related tasks and could include, for example, a print 
mechanism 2640. 

Each of electronic appliances 600(1), . . . 600(N) could 
comprise a different module of the same workstation device all 
contained within a common housing, or the different electronic 
appliances could be located within different system components. 
For example, electronic appliance 600(2) could be disposed within 
a disk controller unit, electronic appliance 600(3) could be disposed 
within a display device 614 housing, and the electronic appliance 


553 


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600(N) could be disposed within the housing of a printer 622. 
Referring back to Figure 7, scanner 626, modem 618, 
telecommunication means 624, keyboard 612 and/or voice 
recognition box 613 could each comprise a VDE electronic 
appliance 600 having its own SPU 500. Additional examples 
include RF or otherwise wireless interface controller, a serial 
interface controller, LAN controllers, MPEG (video) controllers, 
etc. 

Because electronic appliances 600(1) . . . 600(N) are each 
VDE-capable, they each have the ability to perform encryption 
and/or decryption of VDE-protected information. This means that 
information communicated across network 672 or other 
communications path 2631 connecting the electronic appliances 
can be VDE-protected (e.g., it may be packaged in the form of VDE 
administrative and/or content objects and encrypted as discussed 
above). One of the consequences of this arrangement is that an 
eavesdropper who taps into communications path 2631 will not be 
able obtain information except in VDE-protected form. For 
example, information generated by electronic appliance 600 (1) to 
be printed could be packaged in a VDE content object 300 and 
transmitted over path 2631 to electronic appliance 600 (N) for 
printing. An attacker would gain little benefit from intercepting 
this information since it is transmitted in protected form; she 
would have to compromise electronic appliance 600(1) or 600(N) 
(or the SPU 500(1), 500(N)) in order to access this information in 
unprotected form. 

Another advantage provided by the arrangement shown in 
the diagram is that each of electronic appliances 600(1), . . . 600(N) 


554 


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may perform their own metering, control and/or other VDE-related 
functions. For example, electronic appliance 600(N) may meter 
and/or perform any other VDE control functions related to the 
information to be printed, electronic appliance 600(3) may meter 
and/or perform any other VDE control functions related to the 
information to be displayed, electronic appliance 600(2) may meter 
and/or perform any other VDE control functions related to the 
information to be stored and/or retrieved from mass storage 620, 
and electronic appliance 600(1) may meter and/or perform any 
other VDE control functions related to the information it 
processes. 

In one specific arrangement, each of electronic appliances 
600(1), . . . 600(N) would receive a command that indicates that 
the information received by or sent to the electronic appliance is to 
use its SPU 500 to process the information to follow. For example, 
electronic appliance 600(N) might receive a command that 
indicates that information it is about to receive for printing is in 
VDE-protected form (or the information that is sent to it may itself 
indicate this). Upon receiving this command or other information, 
electronic appliance 600(N) may decrypt the received information 
using SPU 500, and might also meter the information the SPU 
provides to the print mechanism 2644 for printing. An additional 
command might be sent to electronic appliance 600(N) to disable 
the decryption process or 600(N)'s VDE secure subsystem may 
determine that the information should not be decrypted and/or 
printed. Additional commands, for example, may exist to load 
encryption/decryption keys, load limits," establish "fingerprinting* 
requirements, and read metered usage. These additional 
commands may be sent in encrypted or unencrypted form as appropriate. 


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Suppose, for example, that electronic appliance 600(1) 
produces information it wishes to have printed by a VDE-capable 
printer 622. SPU 500(1) could establish a secure communications 
across path 2631 with SPU 500(N) to provide a command 
instructing SPU 500(N) to decrypt the next block of data and store 
it as a decryption key and a limit. SPU 500(1) might then send a 
further command to SPU 500(N) to use the decryption key and 
associated limit to process any following encrypted print stream 
(or this command could be sent by CPU 654(1) to microcontroller 
654(N)). Electronic appliance 600(1) could then begin sending 
encrypted information on path 672 for decryption and printing by 
printer 622. Upon receipt of each new block of information by 
printer 622, SPU 500(N) might first check to ensure that the limit 
is greater than zero. SPU 500(N) could then increment a usage 
meter value it maintains, and decrement the limit value. If the 
limit value is non-zero, SPU 500(N) could decrypt the information 
it has received and provide it to print mechanism 2640 for 
printing. If the limit is zero, then SPU 500(N) would not send the 
received information to the print mechanism 2640, nor would it 
decrypt it. Upon receipt of a command to stop, printer 622 could 
revert to a "non-secure" mode in which it would print everything 
received by it across path 2631 without permitting VDE 
processing. 

The SPU 500(N) associated with printer 622 need not 
necessarily be disposed within the housing of the printer, but could 
instead be placed within an I/O controller 660 for example (see 
Figure 8). This would allow at least some of the advantages 
similar to the ones discussed above to be provided without 
requiring a special VDE-capable printer 622. Alternatively, a SPU 


556 


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500(N) could be provided both within printer 622 and within I/O 
controller 660 communicating with the printer to provide 
advantages in terms of coordinating I/O control and relieving 
processing burdens from the SPU 500 associated with the central 
processing electronic appliance 600(1). When multiple VDE 
instances occur within an electronic appliance, one or more VDE 
secure subsystems may be "central" subsystems, that is 
"secondary* VDE instances may pass encrypted usage related 
information to one or more central secure subsystems so as to 
allow said central subsystem to directly control storage of said 
usage related information. Certain control information may also 
be centrally stored by a central subsystem and all or a portion of 
such information may be securely provided to the secondary secure 
subsystem upon its secure VDE request. 

Portable Electronic Appliance 

Electronic appliance 600 provided by the present invention 
may be portable. Figure 71 shows one example of a portable 
electronic appliance 2600. Portable appliance 2600 may include a 
portable housing 2602 that may be about the size of a credit card 
in one example. Housing 2602 may connect to the outside world 
through, for example, an electrical connector 2604 having one or 
more electrical contact pins (not shown). Connector 2604 may 
electrically connect an external bus interface 2606 internal to 
housing 2602 to a mating connector 2604a of a host system 2608. 
External bus interface 2606 may, for example, comprise a 
PCMCIA (or other standard) bus interface to allow portable 
appliance 2600 to interface with and communicate over a bus 2607 
of host system 2608. Host 2608 may, for example, be almost any 
device imaginable, such as a computer, a pay telephone, another 


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VDE electronic appliance 600, a television, an arcade video game, 
or a washing machine, to name a few examples. 

Housing 2602 may be tamper resistant. (See discusson 
above relating to tamper resistance of SPU barrier 502.) 

Portable appliance 2600 in the preferred embodiment 
includes one or more SPUs 500 that may be disposed within 
housing 2602. SPU 500 may be connected to external bus 
interface 2606 by a bus 2610 internal to housing 2602. SPU 500 
communicates with host 2608 (through external bus interface 
2606) over this internal bus 2610. 

SPU 500 may be powered by a battery 2612 or other 
portable power supply that is preferably disposed within housing 
2602. Battery 2612 may be, for example, a miniature battery of 
the type found in watches or credit card sized calculators. Battery 
2612 may be supplemented (or replaced) by solar cells, 
rechargeable batteries, capacitive storage cells, etc. 

A random access memory (RAM) 2614 is preferably provided 
within housing 2602. RAM 2614 may be connected to SPU 500 
and not directly connected to bus 2610, so that the contents of 
RAM 2614 may be accessed only by the SPU and not by host 2608 
(except through and as permitted by the SPU). Looking at Figure 
9 for a moment, RAM 2614 may be part of RAM 534 within the 
SPU 500, although it need not necessarily be contained within the 
same integrated circuit or other package that houses the rest of 
the SPU. 


558 


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• 


Portable appliance 2600 RAM 534 may contain, for example, 
information which can be used to uniquely identify each instance 
of the portable appliance. This information may be employed (e.g. 
as at least a portion of key or password information) in 
authentication, verification, decryption, and/or encryption 
processes. 

Portable appliance 2600 may, in one embodiment, comprise 
means to perform substantially all of the functions of a VDE 
electronic appliance 600. Thus, for example, portable appliance 
2600 may include the means for storing and using permissions, 
methods, keys, programs, and/or other information, and can be 
capable of operating as a "stand alone" VDE node. 

In a further embodiment, portable appliance 2600 may 
perform preferred embodiment VDE functions once it has been 
coupled to an additional external electronic appliance 600. Certain 
information, such as database management permission(s), 
method(s), key(s), and/or other important information (such as at 
least a portion of other VDE programs: administrative, 
user-interface, analysis, etc.) may be stored (for example as 
records) at an external VDE electronic appliance 600 that may 
share information with portable appliance 2600. 

One possible "stand alone 0 configuration for 
tamper-resistant, portable appliance 2600 arrangements includes a 
tamper-resistant package (housing 2602) containing one or more 
processors (500, 2616) and/or other computing devices and/or other 
control logic, along with random-access-memory 2614. Processors 
500, 2616 may execute permissions and methods wholly (or at 


559 


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least in part) within the portable appliance 2600. The portable 
appliance 2600 may have the ability to encrypt information before 
the information is communicated outside of the housing 2602 
and/or decrypt received information when said received 
information is received from outside of the housing. This version 
would also possess the ability to store at least a portion of 
permission, method, and/or key information securely within said 
tamper resistant portable housing 2602 on non-volatile memory. 

Another version of portable appliance 2600 may obtain 
permissions and/or methods and/or keys from a local VDE 
electronic appliance 600 external to the portable appliance 2600 to 
control, limit, or otherwise manage a user's use of a VDE protected 
object. Such a portable appliance 600 may be contained within, 
received by, installed in, or directly connected to, another 
electronic appliance 2600. 

One example of a "minimal* configuration of portable 
appliance 2600 would include only SPU 500 and battery 2612 
within housing 2602 (the external bus interface 2606 and the RAM 
2614 would in this case each be incorporated into the SPU block 
shown in the Figure). In other, enhanced examples of portable 
appliance 2600, any or all of the following optional components 
may also be included within housing 2602: 

one or more CPUs 2616 (with associated support 

components such as RAM-ROM 2617, I/O controllers 
(not shown), etc.); 
one or more display devices 2618; 
one or more keypads or other user input buttons/control 
information 2620; 


560 


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one or more removable/replaceable memory device(s) 2622; 
and 

one or more printing device(s) 2624. 

In such more enhanced versions, the display 2618, keypad 2620, 
memory device 2622 and printer 2624 may be connected to bus 
2610, or they might be connected to CPU 2616 through an I/O 
port/controller portion (not shown) of the CPU, Display 2618 may 
be used to display information from SPU 500, CPU 2616 and/or 
host 2608. Keypad 2620 may be used to input information to SPU 
500, CPU 2616 and/or host 2608. Printer 2624 may be used to 
print information from any/all of these sources. 
Removable/replaceable memory 2622 may comprise a memory 
cartridge or memory medium such as a bulk storage device, for 
providing additional long-term or short-term storage. Memory 
2622 may be easily removable from housing 2602 if desired. 

In one example embodiment, portable appliance 2600 may 
have the form factor of a "smart card" (although a "smart card" 
form factor may provide certain advantages, housing 2602 may 
have the same or different form factor as "conventional" smart 
cards). Alternatively, such a portable electronic appliance 2600 
may, for example, be packaged in a PCMCIA card configuration (or 
the like) which is currently becoming quite popular on personal 
computers and is predicted to become common for desk-top 
computing devices and Personal Digital Assistants. One 
advantageous form factor for the portable electronic appliance 
housing 2602 may be, for example, a Type 1, 2, or 3 PCMCIA card 
(or other derivations) having credit card or somewhat larger 
dimensions. Such a form factor is conveniently portable, and may 


561 


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be insertable into a wide array of computers and consumer 
appliances, as well as receptacles at commercial establishments 
such as retail establishments and banks, and at public 
communications points, such as telephone or other 
telecommunication "booths." 

Housing 2602 may be insertable into and removable from a 
port, slot or other receptacle provided by host 2608 so as to be 
physically (or otherwise operatively) connected to a computer or 
other electronic appliance. The portable appliance connector 2604 
may be configured to allow easy removability so that appliance 
2600 may be moved to another computer or other electronic 
appliance at a different location for a physical connection or other 
operative connection with that other device. 

Portable electronic appliance 2600 may provide a valuable 
and relatively simple means for a user to move permissions and 
methods between their (compatible) various electronic appliances 
600, such as between a notebook computer, a desktop computer 
and an office computer. It could also be used, for example, to 
allow a consumer to visit a next door neighbor and allow that 
neighbor to watch a movie that the consumer had acquired a 
license to view, or perhaps to listen to an audio record on a large 
capacity optical disk that the consumer had licensed for unlimited 
plays. 

Portable electronic appliance 2600 may also serve as a 
"smart card" for financial and other transactions for users to 
employ in a variety of other applications such as, for example, 
commercial applications. The portable electronic appliance 2600 


gg2 (0064091.01) 


may, for example, carry permission and/or method information 
used to authorize (and possibly record) commercial processes and 
services. 

An advantage of using the preferred embodiment VDE 
portable appliance 2600 for financial transactions such as those 
typically performed by banks and credit card companies is that 
VDE allows financial clearinghouses (such as VISA, MasterCard, 
or American Express) to experience significant reductions in 
operating costs. The clearinghouse reduction in costs result from 
the fact that the local metering and budget management that 
occurs at the user site through the use of a VDE electronic 
appliance 600 such as portable appliance 2600 frees the 
clearinghouse from being involved in every transaction. In 
contrast to current requirements, clearinghouses will be able to 
perform their functions by periodically updating their records 
(such as once a month). Audit and/or budget "roll-ups" may occur 
during a connection initiated to communicate such audit and/or 
budget information and/or through a connection that can occur at 
periodic or relatively periodic intervals and/or during a credit 
updating, purchasing, or other portable appliance 2600 
transaction. 

Clearinghouse VDE digital distribution transactions would 
require only occasional authorization and/or audit or other 
administrative "roll-ups" to the central service, rather than far 
more costly connections during each session. Since there would be 
no requirement for the maintenance of a credit card purchase 
"paper trail" (the authorization and then forwarding of the credit 
card slip), there could be substantial cost reductions for 


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clearinghouses (and, potentially, lower costs to users) due to 
reduction in communication costs, facilities to handle concurrent 
processing of information, and paper handling aspects of 
transaction processing costs. This use of a portable appliance 2600 
would allow credit enforcement to exploit distributed processing 
employing the computing capability in each VDE electronic 
appliance 600. These credit cost and processing advantages may 
also apply to the use of non-smart card and non-portable VDE 
electronic appliance 600s. 

Since VDE 100 may be configured as a highly secure 
commercial environment, and since the authentication processes 
supported by VDE employ digital signature processes which 
provide a legal validation that should be equivalent to paper 
documentation and handwritten signatures, the need for portable 
appliance 2600 to maintain paper trails, even for more costly 
transactions, is eliminated. Since auditable billing and control 
mechanisms are built into VDE 100 and automated, they may 
replace traditional electronic interfaces to VISA, Master Card, 
AMEX, and bank debit accounts for digitally distributed other 
products and services, and may save substantial operating costs 
for such clearinghouses. 

Portable appliance 2600 may, if desired, maintain for a 
consumer a portable electronic history. The portable history can 
be, for example, moved to an electronic "dock* or other receptacle, 
in or operatively connected to, a computer or other consumer host 
appliance 2608. Host appliance 2608 could be, for example, an 
electronic organizer that has control logic at least in part in the 
form of a microcomputer and that stores information in an 


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information or alternatively by printing a hard copy receipt using 
printer 2624. This process of categorization may take place in the. 
portable appliance 2600 or, alternatively, it could be performed by 
the retail establishment and periodically "rolled-up" and 
communicated to the portable appliance 2600 holder. 

Retail, clearinghouse, or other commercial organizations 
may maintain and use by securely communicating to appliance 
2600 one or more of generic classifications of transaction types (for 
example, as specified by government taxation rules) that can be 
used to automate the parsing of information into records and/or for 
database information "roll-ups" for; and/or in portable appliance 
2600 or one or more associated VDE nodes. In such instances, 
host 2608 may comprise an auxiliary terminal, for example, or it 
could comprise or be incorporated directly within a commercial 
establishments cash registers or other retail transactions devices. 
The auxiliary terminal could be menu and/or icon driven, and 
allow very easy user selection of categorization. It could also 
provide templates, based on transaction type, that could guide the 
user through specifying useful or required transaction specific 
information (for example, purpose for a business dinner and/or 
who attended the dinner). For example, a user might select a 
business icon, then select from travel, sales, meals, aclministration, 
or purchasing icons for example, and then might enter in very 
specific information and/or a key word, or other code that might 
cause the downloading of a transaction's detail into the portable 
appliance 2600. This information might also be stored by the 
commercial establishment, and might also be communicated to the 
appropriate government and/or business organizations for 
validation of the reported transactions (the high level of security of 


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auditing and communications and authentication and validation of 
VDE should be sufficiently trusted so as not to require the 
maintenance of a parallel audit history, but parallel maintenance 
may be supported, and maintained at least for a limited period of 
time so as to provide backup information in the event of loss or 
"failure" of portable appliance 2600 and/or one or more appliance 
2600 associated VDE installations employed by appliance 2600 for 
historical and/or status information record maintenance). For 
example, of a retail terminal maintained necessary transaction 
information concerning a transaction involving appliance 2600, it 
could communicate such information to a clearinghouse for 
archiving (and/or other action) or it could periodically, for example, 
at the end of a business day, securely communicate such 
information, for example, in the form of a VDE content container 
object, to a clearinghouse or clearinghouse agent. Such 
transaction history (and any required VDE related status 
information such as available credit) can be maintained and if 
necessary, employed to reconstruct the information in a portable 
appliance 2600 so as to allow a replacement appliance to be 
provided to an appliance 2600 user or properly reset internal 
information in data wherein such replacement and/or resetting 
provides all necessary transaction and status information. 

In a retail establishment, the auxiliary terminal host 2608 
might take the form of a portable device presented to the user, for 
example at the end of a meal. The user might place his portable 
appliance 2600 into a smart card receptacle such as a PCMCIA 
slot, and then enter whatever additional information that might 
appropriately describe the transaction as well as satisfying 
whatever electronic appliance 600 identification procedure(s) 


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organized manner, e.g., according to tax and/or other transaction 
categories (such as type of use or activity). By use of this 
arrangement, the consumer no longer has to maintain receipts or 
otherwise manually track transactions but nevertheless can 
maintain an electronic, highly secure audit trail of transactions 
and transaction descriptions. The transaction descriptions may, 
for example, securely include the user's digital signature, and 
optionally, the service or goods provider's digital signature. 

When a portable appliance 2600 is "docked" to a host 2608 
such as a personal computer or other electronic appliance (such as 
an electronic organizer), the portable appliance 2600 could 
communicate interim audit information to the host. In one 
embodiment, this information could be read, directly or indirectly, 
into a computer or electronic organizer money and/or tax 
management program (for example, Quicken or Microsoft Money 
and/or Turbo Tax and/or Andrew Tobias* Managing Your Money). 
This automation of receipt management would be an enormous 
boon to consumers, since the management and maintenance of 
receipts is difficult and time-consuming, receipts are often lost or 
forgotten, and the detail from credit card billings is often wholly 
inadequate for billing and reimbursement purposes since credit 
card billings normally don't provide sufficient data on the 
purchased items or significant transaction parameters. 

In one embodiment, the portable appliance 2600 could 
support secure (in this instance encrypted and/or authenticated) 
two-way communications with a retail terminal which may contain 
a VDE electronic appliance 600 or communicate with a retailer's or 
third party provider's VDE electronic appliance 600. During such 


565 


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a secure two-way communication between, for example, each 
participant's secure VDE subsystem, portable appliance 2600 VDE 
secure subsystem may provide authentication and appropriate 
credit or debit card information to the retail terminal VDE secure 
subsystem. During the same or different communication session, 
the terminal could similarly, securely communicate back to the 
portable appliance 2600 VDE secure subsystem details as to the 
retail transaction (for example, what was purchased and price, the 
retail establishment's digital signature, the retail terminal's 
identifier, tax related information, etc.). 

For example, a host 2608 receptacle for receiving and/or 
attaching to portable appliance 2600 could be incorporated into or 
operatively connected to, a retail or other commercial 
establishment terminal. The host terminal 2608 could be operated 
by either a commercial establishment employee or by the portable 
appliance 2600 holder. It could be used to, for example, input 
specific keyboard and/or voice input specific information such as 
who was taken to dinner, why something was purchased, or the 
category that the information should be attached to. Information 
could then be automatically "parsed" and routed into securely 
maintained (for example, encrypted) appropriate database 
management records within portable appliance 2600. Said 
"parsing" and routing would be securely controlled by VDE secure 
subsystem processes and could, for example, be based on category 
information entered in by the user and/or based on class of 
establishment and/or type (category) of expenditure information 
(or other use). Categorization can be provided by the retail 
establishment, for example, by securely communicating electronic 
category information as a portion, for example, of electronic receipt 


566 


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required. The transaction, given the availability of sufficient 
credit, would be approved, and transaction related information 
would then be communicated back from the auxiliary terminal 
directly into the portable appliance 2600. This would be a highly 
convenient mode of credit usage and record management. 

The portable device auxiliary terminal might be "on-line," 
that is electronically communicating back to a -commercial 
establishment and/or third party information collection point 
through the use of cellular, satellite, radio frequency, or other 
communications means. The auxiliary terminal might, after a 
check by a commercial party in response to receipt of certain 
identification information at the collection point, communicate 
back to the auxiliary terminal whether or not to accept the 
portable appliance 2600 based on other information, such as a bad 
credit record or a stolen portable appliance 2600. Such a portable 
auxiliary terminal would also be very useful at other commercial 
establishments, for example at gasoline stations, rental car return 
areas, street and stadium vendors, bars, and other commercial 
establishments where efficiency would be optimized by allowing 
clerks and other personnel to consummate transactions at points 
other than traditional cash register locations. 

As mentioned above, portable appliance 2600 may 
communicate from time to time with other electronic appliances 
600 such as, for example, a VDE administrator. Communication 
during a portable appliance 2600 usage session may result from 
internally stored parameters dictating that the connection should 
take place during that current session (or next or other session) of 
use of the portable appliance. The portable appliance 600 can 


569 


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carry information concerning a real-time date or window of time or 
duration of time that will, when appropriate, require the 
communication to take place (e.g., perhaps before the transaction 
or other process which has been contemplated by the user for that 
session or during it or immediately following it). Such a 
communication can be accomplished quickly, and could be a 
secure, VDE two-way communication during which information is 
communicated to a central information handler. Certain other 
information may be communicated to the portable appliance 2600 
and/or the computer or other electronic appliance to which the 
portable appliance 2600 has been connected. Such communicated 
other information can enable or prevent a contemplated process 
from proceeding, and/or make the portable appliance 2600, at least 
in part, unusable or useable. Information communicated to the 
portable appliance 2600 could include one or more modifications to 
permissions and methods, such as a resetting or increasing of one 
or more budgets, adding or withdrawing certain permissions, etc. 

The permissions and/or methods (i.e., budgets) carried by the 
portable appliance 2600 may have been assigned to it in 
conjunction with an "encumbering" of another, stationary or other 
portable VDE electronic appliance 600. In one example, a portable 
appliance 2600 holder or other VDE electronic appliance 600 
and/or VDE electronic appliance 600 user could act as "guarantor" 
of the financial aspects of a transaction performed by another 
party. The portable appliance 2600 of the holder would record an 
"encumbrance," which may be, during a secure communication 
with a clearinghouse, be recorded and mai n tai n ed by the 
clearinghouse and/or some other financial services parly until all 
or a portion of debt responsibilities of the other party were paid or 


570 


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otherwise satisfied. Alternatively or in addition, the encumbrance 
may also be maintained within the portable appliance 2600, 
representing the contingent obligation of the guarantor. The 
encumbrance may be, by some formula, included in a 
determination of the credit available to the guarantor. The credit 
transfer, acceptance, and/or record management, and related 
processes, may be securely maintained by the security features 
provided by aspects of the present invention. Portable appliance 
600 may be the sole location for said permissions and/or methods 
for one or more VDE objects 300, or it may carry budgets for said 
objects that are independent of budgets for said objects that are 
found on another, non-portable VDE electronic appliance 600. 
This may allow budgets, for example, to be portable, without 
requiring "encumbering" and budget reconciliation. 

Portable VDE electronic appliance 2600 may cany (as may 
other VDE electronic appliance 600s described) information 
describing credit history details, summary of authorizations, and 
usage history information (e.g., audit of some degree of transaction 
history or related summary information such as the use of a 
certain type/class of information) that allows re-use of certain VDE 
protected information at no cost or at a reduced cost. Such usage 
or cost of usage may be contingent, at least in part, on previous 
use of one or more objects or class of objects or amount of use, etc., 
of VDE protected information. 

Portable appliance 2600 may also carry certain information 
which may be used, at least in part, for identification purposes. 
This information may be employed in a certain order (e.g. a 
pattern such as, for example, based on a pseudo-random 


571 (0064091.01) 


algorithm) to verify the identity of the carrier of the portable 
appliance 2600. Such information may include, for example, one's 
own or a wife's and/or other relatives maiden names, social 
security number or numbers of one's own and/or others, birth 
dates, birth hospital(s), and other identifying information. It may 
also or alternatively provide or include one or more passwords or 
other information used to identify or otherwise verify/authenticate 
an individual's identity, such as voice print and retinal scan 
information. For example, a portable appliance 2600 can be used 
as a smart card that carries various permissions and/or method 
information for authorizations and budgets. This information can 
be stored securely within portable appliance 2600 in a secure 
database 610 arrangement. When a user attempts to purchase or 
license an electronic product or otherwise use the "smart card" to 
authorize a process, portable appliance 2600 may quexy the user 
for identification information or may initiate an identification 
process employing scanned or otherwise entered information (such 
as user fingerprint, retinal or voice analysis or other techniques 
that may, for example, employ mapping and/or matching of 
provided characteristics to information securely stored within the 
portable appliance 2600). The portable appliance 2600 may 
employ different queries at different times (and/or may present a 
plurality of queries or requests for scanning or otherwise entering 
identifying information) so as to prevent an individual who has 
come into possession of appropriate information for one or more of 
the "tests" of identity from being able to successfully employ the 
portable appliance 2600. 


A portable appliance 600 could also have the ability to 
transfer electronic currency or credit to another portable appliance 


572 


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2600 or to another individual's account, for example, using secure 
VDE communication of relevant content between secure VDE 
subsystems. Such transfer may be accomplished, for example, by 
telecommunication to, or presentation at, a bank which can 
transfer credit and/or currency to the other account. The transfer 
could also occur by using two cards at the same portable appliance 
2600 docking station. For example, a credit transaction 
workstation could include dual PCMCIA slots and appropriate 
credit and/or currency transfer application software which allows 
securely debiting one portable appliance 2600 and "crediting" 
another portable appliance (i.e., debiting from one appliance can 
occur upon issuing a corresponding credit and/or currency to the 
other appliance). One portable appliance 600, for example, could 
provide an authenticated credit to another user. Employing two 
"smart card" portable appliance 600 would enable the user of the 
providing of "credit" "smart card" to go through a transaction 
process in which said user provides proper identification (for 
example, a password) and identifies a "public key" identifying 
another "smart card" portable appliance 2600. The other portable 
appliance 2600 could use acceptance processes, and provide proper 
identification for a digital signature (and the credit and/or 
currency sender may also digitally sign a transaction certificate so 
the sending act may not be repudiated and this certificate may 
accompany the credit and/or currency as VDE container content. 
The transactions may involve, for example, user interface 
interaction that stipulates interest and/or other terms of the 
transfer. It may employ templates for common transaction types 
where the provider of the credit is queried as to certain 
parameters describing the agreement between the parties. The 
receiving portable appliance 2600 may iteratively or as a whole be 


573 


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queried as to the acceptance of the terms. VDE negotiation 
techniques described elsewhere in this application may be 
employed in a smart card transfer of electronic credit and/or 
currency to another VDE smart card or other VDE installation. 

Such VDE electronic appliance 600/portable appliance 2600 
credit transfer features would significantly reduce the overhead 
cost of managing certain electronic credit and/or currency activities 
by significantly automating these processes through extending the 
computerization of credit control and credit availability that was 
begun with credit cards and extended with debit cards. The 
automation of credit extension and/or currency transfer and the 
associated distributed processing advantages described, including 
the absence of any requirement for centralized processing and 
telecommunications during each transaction, truly make credit 
and/or currency, for many consumers and other electronic currency 
and/or credit users, an efficient, trusted, and portable commodity. 

The portable appliance 2600 or other VDE electronic 
appliance 600, can, in one embodiment, also automate many tax 
collection functions. A VDE electronic appliance 600 may, with 
great security, record financial transactions, identify the nature of 
the transaction, and identify the required sales or related 
government transaction taxes, debit the taxes from the users 
available credit, and securely communicate this information to one 
or more government agencies directly at some interval (for 
example monthly), and/or securely transfer this information to, for 
example, a financial clearinghouse, which would then transfer one 
or more secure, encrypted (or unsecure, calculated by 
clearinghouse, or otherwise computed) information audit packets 


(0064091.01) 


(e.g. f VDE content containers and employing secure VDE 
communication techniques) to the one or more appropriate, 
participating government agencies. The overall integrity and 
security of VDE 100 could ensure, in a coherent and centralized 
manner, that electronic reporting of tax related information 
(derived from one or more electronic commerce activities) would be 
valid and comprehensive. It could also act as a validating source 
of information on the transfer of sales tax collection (e.g., if, for 
example, said funds are transferred directly to the government by 
a commercial operation and/or transferred in a manner such that 
reported tax related information cannot be tampered with by other 
parties in a VDE pathway of tax information handling). A 
government agency could select transactions randomly, or some 
subset or all of the reported transactions for a given commercial 
operation can be selected. This could be used to ensure that the 
commercial operation is actually paying to the government all 
appropriate collected funds required for taxes, and can also ensure 
that end-users are charged appropriate taxes for their transactions 
(including receipt of interest from bank accounts, investments, 
gifts, etc. 

Portable appliance 2600 financial and tax processes could 
involve template mechanisms described elsewhere herein. While 
such an electronic credit and/or currency management capability 
would be particularly interesting if managed at least in part, 
through the use of a portable appliance 2600, credit and/or 
currency transfer and similar features would also be applicable for 
non-portable VDE electronic appliance 600's connected to or 
installed within a computer or other electronic device. 


575 


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User Notification Exception Interface ("Pop Up") 686 

As described above, the User Modification Exception 
Interface 686 may be a set of user interface programs for handling 
common VDE functions. These applications may be forms of VDE 
templates and are designed based upon certain assumptions 
regarding important options, specifically, appropriate to a certain 
VDE user model and important messages that must be reported 
given certain events A primary function of the w pop-up a user 
interface 686 is to provide a simple, consistent user interface to, 
for example, report metering events and exceptions (e.g., any 
condition for which automatic processing is either impossible or 
arguably undesirable) to the user, to enable the user to configure 
certain aspects of the operation of her electronic appliance 600 
and, when appropriate, to allow the user to interactively control 
whether to proceed with certain transaction processes. If an object 
contains an exception handling method, that method will control 
how the w pop-up a user interface 686 handles specific classes of 
exceptions. 

The *pop-user w interface 686 normally enables handling of 
tasks not dedicated to specific objects 300, such as for example: 

• Logging onto an electronic appliance 600 and/or 
entering into a VDE related activity or class of 
activities, 

• Configuring an electronic appliance 600 for a 
registered user, and/or generally for the installation, 
with regard to user preferences, and automatic 
handling of certain types of exceptions, 


576 


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• Where appropriate, user selecting of meters for use 
with specific properties, and 

• Providing an interface for communications with other 
electronic appliances 600, including requesting and/or 
for purchasing or leasing content from distributors, 
requesting clearinghouse credit and/or budgets from a 
clearinghouse, sending and/or receiving information to 
and/or from other electronic appliances, and so on. 

Figure 72A shows an example of a common "logon" VDE 
electronic appliance 600 function that may use user interface 686. 
"Log-on" can be done by entering a user name, account name, 
and/or password. As shown in the provided example, a 
configuration option provided by the "pop-up" user interface 686 
dialog can be "Login at Setup", which, if selected, will initiate a 
VDE Login procedure automatically eveiy time the user's 
electronic appliance 600 is turned on or reset. Similarly, the 
"pop-up" user interface 686 could provide an interface option called 
"Login at Type" which, if selected, will initiate a procedure 
automatically every time, for example, a certain type of object or 
specific content type application is opened such as a file in a 
certain directory, a computer application or file with a certain 
identifying extension, or the like. 

Figure 72B shows an example of a "pop-up" user interface 
686 dialog that is activated when an action by the user has been 
"trapped," in this case to warn the user about the amount of 
expense that will be incurred by the user's action, as well as to 
alert the user about the object 300 which has been requested and 


577 


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what that particular object will cost to use. In this example, the 
interface dialog provides a button allowing the user to request 
further detailed information about the object, including frill text 
descriptions, a list of associated files, nd perhaps a history of past 
usage of the object including any residual rights to use the object 
or associated discounts. 

The "Cancel" button 2660 in Figure 72B cancels the user's 
trapped request. "Cancer is the default in this example for this 
dialog and can be activated, for example, by the return and enter 
keys on the user's keyboard 612, by a "mouse click" on that button, 
by voice command, or other command mechanisms. The "Approve 
button* 2662, which must be explicitly selected by a mouse click or 
other command procedure, allows the user to approve the expense 
and proceed. The "More options" control 2664 expands the dialog 
to another level of detail which provides further options, an 
example of which is shown in Figure 72C. 

Figure 72C shows a secondary dialog that is presented to 
the user by the "pop-up" user interface 686 when the "More 
options" button 2664 in Figure 72B is selected by the user. As 
shown, this dialog includes numerous buttons for obtaining further 
information and performing various tasks. 

In this particular example, the user is permitted to set 
"limits" such as, for example, the session dollar limit amount (field 
2666), a total transaction dollar limit amount (field 2668), a time 
limit (in minutes) (field 2670), and a "unit limit" (in number of 
units such as paragraphs, pages, etc.) (field 2672). Once the user 
has made her selections, she may "click on" the OKAY button 


578 


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(2674) to confirm the limit selections and cause them to take 
effect. 

Thus, pop-up user interface dialogues can be provided to 
specify user preferences, such as setting limits on budgets and/or 
other aspects of object content usage during any one session or 
over a certain duration of time or until a certain point in time. 
Dialogs can also be provided for selecting object related usage 
options such as selecting meters and budgets to be used with one 
or more objects. Selection of options may be applied to types (that 
is classes) of objects by associating the instruction with one or 
more identifying parameters related to the desired one or more 
types. User specified configuration information can set default 
values to be used in various situations, and can be used to limit 
the number or type of occasions on which the user's use of an 
object is interrupted by a "pop-up" interface 686 dialog. For 
example, the user might specify that a user request for VDE 
protected content should be automatically processed without 
interruption (resulting from an exceptions action) if the requested 
processing of information will not cost more than $25.00 and if the 
total charge for the entire current session (and/or day and/or week, 
etc.) is not greater than $200.00 and if the total outstanding and 
unpaid charge for use hasn't exceeded $2500.00. 

Pop-up user interface dialogs may also be used to notify the 
user about significant conditions and events. For example, 
interface 686 may be used to: 

• remind the user to send audit information to a 
clearinghouse, 


579 


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• 


• inform a user that a budget value is low and needs 
replenishing, 

• remind the user to back up secure diabase 610, and 

• inform the user about expirations of PERCs or other 
dates/times events. 

Other important w pop-up a user interface 686 functions 
include dialogs which enable flexible browsing through libraries of 
properties or objects available for licensing or purchase, either 
from locally stored VDE protected objects and/or from one or more 
various, remotely located content providers. Such function may be 
provided either while the user's computer is connected to a remote 
distributor's or clearinghouse's electronic appliance 600, or by 
activating an electronic connection to a remote source after a 
choice (such as a property, a resource location, or a class of objects 
or resources is selected). A browsing interface can allow this 
electronic connection to be made automatically upon a user 
selection of an item, or the connection itself can be explicitly 
activated by the user. See Figure 72D for an example of such a 
Tbrowsing* dialog. 
Smart Objects 

VDE 100 extends its control capabilities and features to 
"intelligent agents Generally, an "intelligent agent" can act as 
an emissary to allow a process that dispatches it to achieve a 
result the originating process specifies. Intelligent agents that are 
capable of acting in the absence of their dispatch process are 
particularly useful to allow the dispatching process to access, 
through its agent, the resources of a remote electronic appliance. 


580 


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In such a scenario, the dispatch process may create an agent (e.g., 
a computer program and/or control information associated with a 
computer program) specifying a particular desired task(s), and 
dispatch the agent to the remote system. Upon reaching the 
remote system, the "agent" may perform its assigned task(s) using 
the remote system's resources. This allows the dispatch process to, 
in effect, extend its capabilities to remote systems where it is not 
present. 

Using an "agent" in this manner increases flexibility. The 
dispatching process can specify, through its agent, a particular 
desired task(s) that may not exist or be available on the remote 
system. Using such an agent also provides added trustedness; the 
dispatch process may only need to "trust" its agent, not the entire 
remote system. Agents have additional advantages. 

Software agents require a high level of control and 
accountability to be effective, safe and useful. Agents in the form 
of computer viruses have had devastating effects worldwide. 
Therefore, a system that allows an agent to access it should be 
able to control it or otherwise prevent the agent from damaging 
important resources. In addition, systems allowing themselves to 
be accessed by an agent should sufficiently trust the agent and/or 
provide mechanisms capable of holding the true dispatcher of the 
agent responsible for the agent's activities. Similarly, the 
dispatching process should be able to adequately limit and/or 
control the authority of the agents it dispatches or else it might 
become responsible for unforeseen activities by the agent (e.g., the 
agent might run up a huge bill in the course of following imprecise 
instructions it was given by the process that dispatched it). 


581 


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These significant problems in using software agents have 
not be adequately addressed in the past. The open, flexible control 
structures provided by VDE 100 addresses these problems by 
providing the desired control and accountability for software 
agents (e.g., agent objects). For example, VDE 100 positively 
controls content access and usage, provides guarantee of payment 
for content used, and enforces budget limits for accessed content. 
These control capabilities are well suited to controlling the 
activities of a dispatched agent by both the process that dispatches 
the agent and the resource accessed by the dispatched agent. 

One aspect of the preferred embodiment provided by the 
present invention provides a "smart object" containing an agent. 
Generally, a "smart object" may be a VDE object 300 that contains 
some type(s) of software programs ("agents") for use with VDE 
control information at a VDE electronic appliance 600. A basic 
"smart object" may comprise a VDE object 300 that, for example, 
contains (physically and/or virtually): 

a software agent, and 

at least one rule and/or control associated with the software 
agent that governs the agent's operation. 
Although this basic structure is sufficient to define a "smart 
object," Figure 73 shows a combination of containers and control 
information that provides one example of a particularly 
advantageous smart object structure for securely managing and 
controlling the operation of software agents. 

As shown in Figure 73, a smart object 3000 may be 
constructed of a container 300, within which is embedded one or 
more further containers (300z, 300y, etc.). Container 300 may 


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further contain rules and control information for accessing and 
using these embedded containers 300z, 300y, etc. Container 300z 
embedded in container 300 is what makes the object 3000 a "smart 
object." It contains an "agent" that is managed and controlled by 
VDE 100. 

The rules and control information 806f associated with 
container 300z govern the circumstances under which the agent 
may be released and executed at a remote VDE site, including any 
limitations on execution based on the cost of execution for 
example. This rule and control information may be specified 
entirely in container 300z, and/or may be delivered as part of 
container 300, as part of another container (either within 
container 300 or a separately deliverable container), and/or may be 
already present at the remote VDE site. 

The second container 300y is optional, and contains content 
that describes the locations at which the agent stored in container 
300z may be executed. Container 300y may also contain rules and 
control information 806e that describe the maimer in which the 
contents of container 300y may be used or altered. This rule and 
control information 806e and/or further rules 300y(l) also 
contained within container 300y may describe searching and 
routing mechanisms that may be used to direct the smart object 
3000 to a desired remote information resource. Container 300y 
may contain and/or reference rules and control information 300y(l) 
that specify the manner in which searching and routing 
information use and any changes may be paid for. 


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Container 300x is an optional content container that is 
initially "empty" when the smart object 3000 is dispatched to a 
remote site. It contains rules and control information 300x(l) for 
storing the content that is retrieved by the execution of the agent 
contained in container 300z. Container 300x may also contain 
limits on the value of content that is stored in the retrieval 
container so as to limit the amount of content that is retrieved. 

Other containers in the container 300 may include 
administrative objects that contain audit and billing trails that 
describe the actions of the agent in container 300z and any 
charges incurred for executing an agent at a remote VDE node. 
The exact structure of smart object 3000 is dependent upon the 
type of agent that is being controlled, the resources it will need for 
execution, and the types of information being retrieved. 

The smart object 3000 in the example shown in Figure 73 
may be used to control and manage the operation of an agent in 
VDE 100. The following detailed explanation of an example smart 
object transaction shown in Figure 74 may provide a helpful, but 
non-limiting illustration. In this particular example, assume a 
user is going to create a smart object 3000 that performs a library 
search using the "Very Fast and Efficient" software agent to 
search for books written about some subject of interest (e.g., "fire 
flies"). The search engine is designed to return a list of books to 
the user. The search engine in this example may spend no more 
than $10:00 to find the appropriate books, may spend no more 
than $3.00 in library access or communications charges to get to 
the library, and may retrieve no more than $15.00 in information. 
All information relating to the search or use is to be returned to 


584 


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the user and the user will permit no information pertaining to the 
user or the agent to be released to a third party. 

In this example, a dispatching VDE electronic appliance 
3010 constructs a smart object 3000 like the one shown in Figure 
73. The rule set in 806a is specified as a control set that contains 
the following elements: 

1. a smart_agent_execution event that specifies the 
smart agent is stored in embedded container 300z and 
has rules controlling its execution specified in that 
container; 

2. a smart_agent_use event that specifies the smart 
agent will operate using information and parameters 
stored in container 300; 

3. a routing_use event that specifies the information 
routing information is stored in container 300y and 
has rules controlling this information stored in that 
container, 

4. an information.write event that specifies information 
written will be stored in container 300y, 300x, or 300w 
depending on its type (routing, retrieved, or 
administrative), and that these containers have 
independent rules that control how information is 
written into them. 


585 


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The rule set in control set 806b contains rules that specify 
the rights desired by this smart object 3000. Specifically, this 
control set specifies that the software agent desires: 

1. A right to use the "agent execution" service on the 
remote VDE site. Specific billing and charge 
information for this right is carried in container 300z. 

2. A right to use the "software description list" service on 
the remote VDE site. Specific billing and charge 
information for this for this right is carried in 
container 300y. 


3. A right to use an "information locator service" on a 
remote VDE site. 

4. A right to have information returned to the user 
without charge (charges to be incurred on release of 
information and payment will be by a VISA budget) 

5. A right to have all audit information returned such 
that it is readable only by the sender. 

The rule set in control set 806c specifies that container 300w 
specifies the handling of all events related to its use. The rule set 
in control set 806d specifies that container 300x specifies the 
handling of all events related to its use. The rule set in control set 
806e specifies that container 300y specifies the handling of all 
events related to its use. The rule set in control set 806f specifies 


(0064091.01) 


that container 300z specifies the handling of all events related to 
its use. 

Container 300z is specified as containing the "Very Fast and 
Efficient" agent content, which is associated with the following 
rules set: 

1. A use event that specifies a meter and VISA budget 
that limits the execution to $10.00 charged against the 
owner's VISA card. Audits of usage are required and 
will be stored in object 300w under control information 
specified in that object. 

After container 300z and its set are specified, they are 
constructed and embedded in the smart object container 300. 

Container 300y is specified as a content object with two 
types of content. Content type A is routing information and is 
read/write in nature. Content type A is associated with a rules set 
that specifies: 

1. A use event that specifies no operation for the release 
of the content. This has the effect of not charging for 
the use of the content. 

2. A write event that specifies a meter and a VISA 
budget that limits the value of writing to $3.00. The 
billing method used by the write is left unspecified 
and will be specified by the control method that uses 
this rule. 


587 


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3. Audits of usage are required and will be stored in 

object 300w under control information specified in that 
object. 

Content type B is information that is used by the software 
agent to specify parameters for the agent. This content is 
specified as the string "fire fly" or "fire flies". Content type B is 
associated with the following rule set: 

1. A use event that specifies that the use may only be by 
the software agent or a routing agent. The software 
agent has read only permission, the routing agent has 
read/write access to the information. There are no 
charges associated with using the information, but two 
meters; one by read and one by write are kept to track 
use of the information by various steps in the process. 

2. Audits of usage are required and will be stored in 
object 300w under control information specified in that 
object. 

After container 300y and its control sets are specified, they 
are constructed and embedded in the smart object container 300. 

Container 300x is specified as a content object that is empty 
of content. It contains a control set that contains the following 
rules: 


588 


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1. A write.withoutjbilling event that specifies a meter 
and a general budget that limits the value of writing 
to $15.00. 

2. Audits of usage are required and will be stored in 
object 300w under control information specified in that 
object. 

3. An empty use control set that may be filled in by the 
owner of the information using predefined methods 
(method options). 

After container 300x and its control sets are specified, they 
are constructed and embedded in the smart object container 300. 

Container 300w is specified as an empty administrative 
object with a control set that contains the following rules: 

1. A use event that specifies that the information 
contained in the administrative object may only be 
released to the creator of smart object container 300. 

2. No other rules may be attached to the administrative 
content in container 300w. 

After container 300w and its control sets are specified, they 
are constructed and embedded in the smart object container 300. 

At this point, the smart object has been constructed and is 
ready to be dispatched to a remote VDE site. The smart object is 
sent to a remote VDE site (e.g., using electronic mail or another 


589 


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transport mechanism) that contains an information locator service 
3012 via path 3014. The smart object is registered at the remote 
site 3012 for the "item locator service" The control set in 
container related to "item locator o;rvice a is selected and the rules 
contained within it activated at the remote site 3012. The remote 
site 3012 then reads the contents of container 300y under the 
control of rule set 806f and 300y(l), and permits writes of a list of 
location information into container 300y pursuant to these rules. 
The item locator service writes a list of three items into the smart 
object, and then "deregisters" the smart object (now containing the 
location information) and sends it to a site 3016 specified in the 
list written to the smart object via path 3018. In this example, the 
user may have specified electronic mail for transport and a list of 
remote sites that may have the desired information is stored as a 
forwarding list. 

The smart object 3000, upon arriving at the second remote 
site 3016, is registered with that second site. The site 3016 
provides agent execution and software description list services 
compatible with VDE as a service to smart objects. It publishes 
these services and specifies that it requires $10.00 to start the 
agent and $20/piece for all information returned. The registration 
process compares the published service information against the 
rules stored within the object and determines that an acceptable 
overlap does not exist. Audit information for all these activities is 
written to the administrative object 300w. The registration 
process then fails (the object is not registered), and the smart 
object is forwarded by site 3016 to the next VDE site 3020 in the 
list via path 3022. 


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The smart object 3000, upon arriving at the third remote 
site 3020, is registered with that site. The site 3020 provides 
agent execution and software description list services compatible 
with VDE as a service to smart objects. It publishes these services 
and specifies that it requires $1.00 to start the agent and 
$0.50/piece for all information returned. The registration process 
compares the published service information against the rules 
stored within the object and determines that an acceptable overlap 
exists. The registration process creates a URT that specifies the 
agreed upon control information. This URT is used in conjunction 
with the other control information to execute the software agent 
under VDE control. 

The agent software starts and reads its parameters out of 
container 300y. It then starts searching the database and obtains 
253 "hits" in the database. The list of hits is written to container 
300x along with a completed control set that specifies the 
granularity of each item and that each item costs $0.50. Upon 
completion of the search, the budget for use of the service is 
incremented by $1.00 to reflect the use charge for the service. 
Audit information for all these activities is written to the 
administrative object 300w. 

The remote site 3020 returns the now "full" smart object 
3000 back to the original sender (the user) at their VDE node 3010 
via path 3024. Upon arrival, the smart object 3000 is registered 
and the database records are available. The control information 
specified in container 300x is now a mix of the original control 
information and the control information specified by the service 
regarding remote release of their information. The user then 


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extracts 20 records from the smart object 3000 and has $10.00 
charged to her VISA budget at the time of extraction. 

In the above smart agent VDE examples, a certain 
organization of smart object 3000 and its constituent containers is 
described. Other organizations of VDE and smart object related 
control information and parameter data may be created and may 
be used for the same purposes as those ascribed to object 3000 in 
the above example. 

Negotiation and Electronic Contracts 

An electronic contract is an electronic form of an agreement 
including rights, restrictions, and obligations of the parties to the 
agreement. In many cases, electronic agreements may surround 
the use of digitally provided content; for example, a license to view 
a digitally distributed movie. It is not required, however, that an 
electronic agreement be conditioned on the presence or use of 
electronic content by one or more parties to the agreement. In its 
simplest form, an electronic agreement contains a right and a 
control that governs how that right is used. 

Electronic agreements, like traditional agreements, may be 
negotiated between their parties (terms and conditions submitted 
by one or more parties may simply be accepted (cohesion contract) 
by one or more other parties and/or such other parties may have 
the right to select certain of such terms and conditions (while 
others may be required)). Negotiation is defined in the dictionary 
as "the act of bringing together by mutual agreement.* 1 The 
preferred embodiment provides electronic negotiation processes by 
which one or more rights and associated controls can be 


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established through electronic automated negotiation of terms. 
Negotiations normally require a precise specification of rights and 
controls associated with those rights. PERC and URT structures 
provide a mechanism that may be used to provide precise 
electronic representations of rights and the controls associated 
with those rights. VDE thus provides a "vocabulary" and 
mechanism by which users and creators may specify their desires. 
Automated processes may interpret these desires and negotiate to 
reach a common middle ground based on these desires. The 
results of said negotiation may be concisely described in a 
structure that may be used to control and enforce the results of 
the electronic agreement. VDE further enables this process by 
providing a secure execution space in which the negotiation 
process(es) are assured of integrity and confidentiality in their 
operation- The negotiation process(es) may also be executed in 
such a manner that inhibits external tampering with the 
negotiation. 

A final desirable feature of agreements in general (and 
electronic representations of agreements in particular) is that they 
be accurately recorded in a non-repudiatable form. In traditional 
terms, this involves creating a paper document (a contract) that 
describes the rights, restrictions, and obligations of all parties 
involved. This document is read and then signed by all parties as 
being an accurate representation of the agreement. Electronic 
agreements, by their nature, may not be initially rendered in 
paper. VDE enables such agreements to be accurately 
electronically described and then electronically signed to prevent 
repudiation. In addition, the preferred embodiment provides a 


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mechanism by which human-readable descriptions of terms of the 
electronic contract can be provided. 

VDE provides a concise mechanism for specifying control 
sets that are VDE site interpre table. Machine interpre table 
mechanisms are often not human readable. VDE often operates 
the negotiation process on behalf of at least one human user. It is 
thus desirable that the negotiation be expressible in "human 
readable form." VDE data structures for objects, methods, and 
load modules all have provisions to specify one or more DTDs 
within their structures. These DTDs may be stored as part of the 
item or they may be stored independently. The DTD describes one 
or more data elements (MDE, UDE, or other related data 
elements) that may contain a natural language description of the 
function of that item. These natural language descriptions provide 
a language independent, human readable description for each 
item. Collections of items (for example, a BUDGET method) can 
be associated with natural language text that describes its 
function and forms a term of an electronically specified and 
enforceable contract. Collections of terms (a control set) define a 
contract associated with a specific right. VDE thus permits the 
electronic specification, negotiation, and enforcement of electronic 
contracts that humans can understand and adhere to. 

VDE 100 enables the negotiation and enforcement of 
electronic contracts in several ways: 

• it enables a concise specification of rights and control 
information that permit a common vocabulary and 
procedure for negotiation, 


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• it provides a secure processing environment within 
which to negotiate, 

• it provides a distributed environment within which 
rights and control specifications may be securely 
distributed, 

• it provides a secure processing environment in which 
negotiated contracts may be electronically rendered 
and signed by the processes that negotiate them, and 

• it provides a mechanism that securely enforces a 
negotiated electronic contract. 

Types of Negotiations 

A simple form of a negotiation is a demand by one party to 
form an "adhesion* contract. There are few, if any, options that 
may be chosen by the other party in the negotiation. The recipient 
of the demand has a simple option; she may accept or reject the 
terms and conditions (control information) in the demand. If she 
accepts the conditions, she is granted rights subject to the 
specified control information. If she rejects the conditions, she is 
not granted the rights. PERC and URT structures may support 
negotiation by demand; a PERC or control set from a PERC may 
be presented as a demand, and the recipient may accept or reject 
the demand (selecting any permitted method options if they are 
presented). 

A common example of this type of negotiation today is the 
purchase of software under the terms of a "shrink-wrap license. u 


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Many widely publicized electronic distribution schemes use this 
type of negotiation. CompuServe is an example of an on-line 
service that operates in the same manner. The choice is simple: 
either pay the specified charge or don't use the service or software. 
VDE supports this type of negotiation with its capability to 
provide PERCs and URTs that describe rights and control 
information, and by permitting a content owner to provide a 
REGISTER method that allows a user to select from a set of 
predefined method options. In this scenario, the REGISTER 
method may contain a component that is a simplified negotiation 
process. 

A more complex form of a negotiation is analogous to 
"haggling." In this scenario, most of the terms and conditions are 
fixed, but one or more terms (e.g., price or payment terms) are not. 
For these terms, there are options, limits, and elements that may 
be negotiated over. A VDE electronic negotiation between two 
parties may be used to resolve the desired, permitted, and optional 
terms. The result of the electronic negotiation may be a finalized 
set of rules and control information that specify a completed 
electronic contract. A simple example is the scenario for 
purchasing software described above adding the ability of the 
purchaser to select a method of payment (VISA, Mastercard, or 
American Express). A more complex example is a scenario for 
purchasing information in which the price paid depends on the 
amount of information about the user that is returned along with 
a usage audit trail. In this second example, the right to use the 
content may be associated with two control sets. One control set 
may describe a fixed ("higher") price for using the content. 
Another control set may describe a fixed ("lower") price for using 


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the content with additional control information and field 
specifications requiring collection and return the user's personal 
information. In both of these cases, the optional and permitted 
fields and control sets in u PERC may describe the options that 
may be selected as part of the negotiation. To perform the 
negotiation, one party may propose a control set containing specific 
fields, control information, and limits as specified by a PERC; the 
other party may pick and accept from the control sets proposed, 
reject them, or propose alternate control sets that might be used. 
The negotiation process may use the permitted, required, and 
optional designations in the PERC to determine an acceptable 
range of parameters for the final rule set. Once an agreement is 
reached, the negotiation process may create a new PERC and/or 
URT that describes the result of the negotiation. The resulting 
PERCs and/or URTs may be "signed" (e.g., using digital 
signatures) by all of the negotiation processes involved in the 
negotiation to prevent repudiation of the agreement at a later 
date. 

Additional examples of negotiated elements are: electronic 
cash, purchase orders, purchase certificates (gift certificates, 
coupons), bidding and specifications, budget "rollbacks" and 
reconciliation, currency exchange rates, stock purchasing, and 
billing rates. 

A set of PERCs that might be used to support the second 
example described above is presented in Figures 75A (PERC sent 
by the content owner), 75B (PERC created by user to represent 
their selections and rights), and 75C (PERC for controlling the 
negotiation process). These PERCs might be used in conjunction 


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with any of the negotiation process(es) and protocols described 
later in this section. 

Figure 75 A shows an example of a PERC 3100 that might be 
created by a content provider to describe their rights options. In 
this example, the PERC contains information regarding a single 
USE right. Two alternate control sets 3102a, 3102b are presented 
for this right in the example. Control set 3102a permits the use of 
the content without passing back information about the user, and 
another control set 3102b permits the use of the content and 
collects "response card" type information from the user. Both 
control sets 3102a, 3102b may use a common set of methods for 
most of the control information. This common control information 
is represented by a CSR 3104 and CS0 3106. 

Control set 3102a in this PERC 3100 describes a mechanism 
by which the user may obtain the content without providing any 
information about its user to the content provider. This control set 
3102a specifies a well-known vending control method and set of 
required methods and method options. Specifically, in this 
example, control set 3102a defines a BUDGET method 3108 (e.g., 
one of VISA, Mastercard, or American Express) and it defines a 
BILLING method 3110 that specifies a charge (e.g., a one-time 
charge of $100.00). 

Control set 3102b in this PERC 3100 describes another 
mechanism by which the user may obtain the content. In this 
example, the control set 3102b specifies a different vending control 
method and a set of required methods and method options. This 
second control set 3102b specifies a BUDGET method 3112 (e.g., 


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one of VISA, Mastercard, or American Express), a BILLING 
method 3116 that specifies a charge (e.g., a lesser one-time charge 
such as $25.00) and an AUDIT method 3114 that specifies a set of 
desired and required fields. The required and desired field 
specification 3116 may take the form of a DTD specification, in 
which, for example, the field names are listed. 

The content creator may "prefer" one of the two control sets 
(e.g., control set 2) over the other one. If so, the "preferred" control 
set may be "offered" first in the negotiation process, and 
withdrawn in favor of the "non-preferred" control set if the other 
party to the negotiation "rejects" the "preferred" control set. 

In this example, these two control sets 3102a, 3102b may 
share a common BUDGET method specification. The BUDGET 
method specification may be included in the CSR 3104 or CS0 
3106 control sets if desired. Selecting control set 3102a (use with 
no information passback) causes a unique component assembly to 
be assembled as specified by the PERC 3100. Specifically, in this 
example it selects the "Vending" CONTROL method 3118, the 
BILLING method 3110 for a $100 fixed charge, and the rest of the 
control information specified by CSR 3104 and CS0 3106. It also 
requires the user to specify her choice of acceptable BUDGET 
method (e.g., from the list including VISA, Mastercard, and 
American Express). Selecting control set 3102b assembles a 
different component assembly using the "Vending with 'response 
card*" CONTROL method 3120, the BILLING method 3116 (e.g., 
for a $25 fixed charge), an AUDIT method 3114 that requires the 
fields listed in the Required Fields DTD 3116. The process may 
also select as many of the fields listed in the Desired Fields DTD 


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3116 as are made available to it. The rest of the control 
information is specified by CSR 3104 and CSO 3106. The selection 
of control set 3102b also forces the user to specify their choice of 
acceptable BUDGET methods (e.g., from the list including VISA, 
Mastercard, and American Express). 

Figure 75B shows an example of a control set 3125 that 
might be used by a user to specify her desires and requirements in 
a negotiation process. This control set has a USE rights section 
3127 that contains an aggregated CSR budget specification 3129 
and two optional control sets 3131a, 3131b for use of the content. 
Control set 3131a requires the use of a specific CONTROL method 
3133 and AUDIT method 3135. The specified AUDIT method 3135 
is parameterized with a list of fields 3137 that may be released in 
the audit trail. Control set 3131a also specifies a BILLING 
method 3139 that can cost no more than a certain amount (e.g., 
$30.00). Control set 3131b in this example describes a specific 
CONTROL method 3141 and may reference a BILLING method 
3143 that can cost no more than a certain amount (e.g., $150.00) if 
this option is selected. 

Figure 75E shows a more high-level view of an electronic 
contract 3200 formed as a "result" of a negotiation process as 
described above. Electronic contract 3200 may include multiple 
clauses 3202 and multiple digital signatures 3204. Each clause 
3202 may comprise a PERC/URT such as item 3160 described 
above and shown in Figure 75D. Each "clause* 3202 of electronic 
contract 3200 thus corresponds to a component assembly 690 that 
may be assembled and executed by a VDE electronic appliance 
600. Just as in normal contracts, there may be as many contract 


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clauses 3202 within electronic contract 3200 as is necessary to 
embody the "agreement" between the "parties." Each of clauses 
3202 may have been electronically negotiated and may thus 
embody a part of the "agreement" (e.g., a "compromise") between 
the parties. Electronic contract 3200 is "self-executing" in the 
sense that it may be literally executed by a machine, i.e., a VDE 
electronic appliance 600 that assembles component assemblies 690 
as specified by various electronic clauses 3202. Electronic contract 
3200 may be automatically "enforced" using the same VDE 
mechanisms discussed above that are used in conjunction with any 
component assembly 690. For example, assuming that a clause 
3202(2) corresponds to a payment or BILLING condition or term, 
its corresponding component assembly 690 when assembled by a 
user's VDE electronic appliance 600 may automatically determine 
whether conditions are right for payment and, when they are, 
automatically access an appropriate payment mechanism (e.g., a 
virtual "credit card" object for the user) to arrange that payment to 
be made. As another example, assuming that electronic contract 
clause N 3202(N) corresponds to a user's obligation to provide 
auditing information to a particular VDE participant, electronic 
contract 3200 will cause VDE electronic appliance 600 to assemble 
a corresponding component assembly 690 that may, for example, 
access the appropriate audit trails within secure database 610 and 
provide them in an administrative object to the correct participant. 
Figure 75F shows that clause 3202(N) may, for example, specify a 
component assembly 690 that arranges for multiple steps in a 
transaction 3206 to occur. Some of these steps (e.g., step 3208(4), 
3208(5)) may be conditional on a test (e.g., 3208(3)) such as, for 
example, whether content usage has exceeded a certain amount, 


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whether a certain time period has expired, whether a certain 
calendar date has been reached, etc. 

Digital signatures 3204 shown in the Figure 75E electronic 
contract 3200 may comprise, for example, conventional digital 
signatures using public key techniques as described above. Some 
electronic contracts 3200 may not bear any digital signatures 3204. 
However, it may be desirable to require the electronic appliance 
600 of the user who is a party to the electronic contract 3200 to 
digitally "sign* the electronic contract so that the user cannot later 
repudiate the contract, for evidentiary purposes, etc. Multiple 
parties to the same contract may each digitally "sign* the same 
electronic contract 3200 similarly to the way multiple parties to a 
contract memorialized in a written instrument use an ink pen to 
sign the instrument. 

Although each of the clauses 3202 of electronic contract 3200 
may ultimately correspond to a collection of data and code that 
may be executed by a PPE 650, there may in some instances be a 
need for rendering a human readable version of the electronic 
contract. This need can be accommodated by, as mentioned above, 
providing text within one or more DTDs associated with the 
component assembly or assemblies 690 used to "self-execute" the 
contract. Such text might, for example, describe from a functional 
point of view what the corresponding electronic contract clause 
3202 means or involves, and/or might describe in legally 
enforceable terms what the legal obligation under the contract is 
or represents. "Templates 0 (described elsewhere herein) might be 
used to supply such text from a text library. An expert system 
and/or artificial intelligence capability might be used to impose 


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syntax rules that bind different textual elements together into a 
coherent, humanly readable contract document. Such text could, if 
necessary, be reviewed and modified by a "human" attorney in 
order customize it for the particular agreement between the 
parties and/or to add further legal obligations augmenting the 
"self-executing" electronic obligations embodied within and 
enforced by the associated component assemblies 690 executing on 
a VDE electronic appliance 600. Such text could be displayed 
automatically or on demand upon execution of the electronic 
contract, or it could be used to generate a printed humanly- 
readable version of the contract at any time. Such a document 
version of the electronic contract 3200 would not need to be signed 
in ink by the parties to the agreement (unless desired) in view of 
the fact that the digital signatures 3204 would provide a 
sufficiently secure and trusted evidentiary basis for proving the 
parties* mutual assent to all the terms and conditions within the 
contract. 

In the preferred embodiment, the negotiation process 
executes within a PPE 650 under the direction of a further PERC 
that specifies the process. Figure 75C shows an example of a 
PERC 3150 that specifies a negotiation process. The PERC 3150 
contains a single right 3152 for negotiation, with two permitted 
control sets 3154a, 3154b described for that right. The first 
control set 3154a may be used for a "trusted negotiation*; it 
references the desired negotiation CONTROL method ("Negotiate") 
3156 and references (in fields 3157a, 3157b) two UDEs that this 
CONTROL method will use. These UDEs may be, for example, 
the PERCs 3100, 3125 shown in Figures 75A and 75B. The second 
control set 3154b may be used by "multiple negotiation a processes 
to manage the negotiation, and may provide two negotiation 


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methods: "Negotiate 1," and "Negotiate2 w . Both negotiation 
processes may be described as required methods ("Negotiate 1" and 
"Negotiate2") 3156, 3158 that take respective PERCs 3100, 3125 
as their inputs. The CONTROL method 3158 for this control set 
in this example may specify the name of a service that the two 
negotiation processes will use to communicate with each other, 
and may also manage the creation of the URT resulting from the 
negotiation. 

When executed, the negotiation process(es) specified by the 
PERC 3150 shown in Figure 75C may be provided with the PERCs 
3100, 3125 as input that will be used as the basis for negotiation. 
In this example, the choice of negotiation process type (trusted or 
multiple) may be made by the executing VDE node. The PERC 
3150 shown in Figure 75C might be, for example, created by a 
REGISTER method in response to a register request from a user. 
The process specified by this PERC 3150 may then be used by a 
REGISTER method to initiate negotiation of the terms of an 
electronic contract. 

During this example negotiation process, the PERCs 3100, 
3125 shown in Figures 75A and 75B act as input data structures 
that are compared by a component assembly created based on 
PERC 3150 shown in Figure 35C. The component assembly 
specified by the control sets may be assembled and compared, 
starting with required "terms," and progressing to 
preferred/desired "terms" and then moving on to permitted 
"terms," as the negotiation continues. Method option selections 
are made using the desired method and method options specified 
in the PERCs 3100, 3125. In this example, a control set for the 


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PERC 3100 shown in Figure 75A may be compared against the 
PERC 3125 shown in Figure 75B. If there is a "match," the 
negotiation is successfully concluded and "results" are generated. 

In this embodiment, the results of such negotiation will 
generally be written as a URT and "signed" by the negotiation 
process(es) to indicate that an agreement has been reached. These 
electronic signatures provide the means to show that a (virtual) 
"meeting of minds" was reached (one of the traditional legal 
preconditions for a contract to exist). An example of the URT 3160 
that would have been created by the above example is shown in 
Figure 75D. 

This URT 3160 (which may itself be a PERC 808) includes a 
control set 3162 that reflects the "terms" that were "agreed upon" 
in the negotiation. In this example, the "agreed upon" terms must 
"match" terms required by input PERCs 3100, 3125 in the sense 
that they must be "as favorable as" the terms required by those 
PERCs. The negotiation result shown includes, for example, a 
"negotiated" control set 3162 that in some sense corresponds to the 
control set 3102a of the Figure 75A PERC 3100 ami to the control 
set 3131a of the Figure 75B control set 3125. Resulting 
"negotiated" control set 3162 thus includes a required BUDGET 
method 3164 that corresponds to the control set 3125 desired 
BUDGET method 3142 but which is "within" the range of control 
sets allowed by control set 3100 required BUDGET method 3112. 
Similarly, resulting negotiated control set 3162 includes a required 
AUDIT method 3166 that complies with the requirements of both 
PERC 3100 required AUDIT method 3114 and PERC 3125 
required AUDIT method 3135. Similarly, resulting negotiated 


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control set 3162 includes a required BILLING method 3170 that 
"matches" or complies with each of PERC 3100 required BILLING 
method 3116 and PERC 3125 required BILLING method 3170. 

Another class of negotiation is one under which no rules are 
fixed and only the desired goals are specified. The negotiation 
processes for this type of negotiation may be very complex. It may 
utilize artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, and/or related algorithms 
to reach their goals. VDE supports these types of processes by 
providing a mechanism for concisely specifying rights, control 
information, fields and goals (in the form of desired rights, control 
information, and fields). Goals for these types of processes might 
be specified as one more control sets that contain specific elements 
that are tagged as optional, permitted, or desired. 

Types of Negotiations 

Negotiations in the preferred embodiment may be structured 
in any of the following ways: 

1. shared knowledge 

2. trusted negotiator 

3. "zero-based" knowledge 

"Shared knowledge" negotiations are based on all parties 
knowing all of the rules and constraints associated with the 
negotiation. Demand negotiations are a simple case of shared 
knowledge negotiations; the demander presents a list of demands 
that must be accepted or rejected together. The list of demands 
comprises a complete set of knowledge required to accept or reject 
each item on the list. VDE enables this class of negotiation to 
occur electronically by providing a mechanism by which demands 


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may be encoded, securely passed, and securely processed between 
and with secure VDE subsystems using VDE secure processing, 
and communication capabilities. Other types of shared knowledge 
negotiations employed by VDE involve the exchange of information 
between two or more negotiating parties; the negotiation 
process(es) can independently determine desired final outcome(s) 
based on their independent priorities. The processes can then 
negotiate over any differences. Shared knowledge negotiations 
may require a single negotiation process (as in a demand type 
negotiation) or may involve two or more cooperative processes. 
Figures 76A and 76B illustrate scenarios in which one and two 
negotiation processes are used in a shared knowledge negotiation. 

Figure 76A shows a single negotiation process 3172 that 
takes any number of PERCs 808 (e.g., supplied by different 
parties) as inputs to the negotiation. The negotiation process 3172 
executes at a VDE node under supervision of "Negotiation Process 
Rules and Control information" that may be supplied by a further 
PERC (e.g., PERC 3150 shown in Figure 75C). The process 3172 
generates one or more PERCs/URTs 3160 as results of the 
negotiation. 

Figure 76B shows multiple negotiation processes 3172A- 
3172N each of which takes as input a PERC 808 from a party and 
a further PERC 3150 that controls the negotiation process, and 
each of which generates a negotiated "result" PERC/URT 3160 as 
output. Processes 3172A-3172N may execute at the same or 
different VDE nodes and may communicate using a "negotiation 
protocol." 


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Single and multiple negotiation processes may be used for 
specific VDE sites. The negotiation processes are named, and can 
be accessed using well known method names. PERCs and URTs 
ma: be transported in administrative or smart objects to remote 
VDE sites for processing at that site, as may the control PERCs 
and REGISTER method that controls the negotiation. 

Multiple negotiation processes require the ability to 
communicate between these processes 3172; including secure 
communication between secure processes that are present at 
physically separate VDE sites (secure subsystems). VDE 
generalizes the inter-process communication into a securely 
provided service that can be used if the configuration requires it. 
The inter-process communication uses a negotiation protocol to 
exchange information about rule sets between processes 3172. An 
example of a negotiation protocol includes the following 
negotiation "primitives": 

WANT Want a set of terms and conditions 

ACCEPT Accept a set of terms and conditions 

REJECT Reject a set of terms and conditions 

OFFER Offer a set of terms and conditions in 


reaching an agreement 
AGREEMENT Conclude the negotiation and pass the 
rule set for signature 


HAVE 


exchange for other terms and conditions 
Assert a set of terms and conditions are 
possible or desirable 


QUIT 


Assert the end of the negotiation without 


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The WANT primitive takes rights and control set (or parts of 
control sets) information, and asserts to the other process(es) 3172 
that the specified terms are desired or required. Demand 
negotiations are a simple case of a WANT primitive being used to 
assert the demand. This example of a protocol may introduce a 
refined form of the WANT primitive, REQUIRE. In this example, 
REQUIRE allows a party to set terms that she decides are 
necessary for a contract to be formed, WANT may allow the party 
to set terms that are desirable but not essential. This permits a 
distinction between "must have" and "would like to have." 

In this example, WANT primitives must always be answered 
by an ACCEPT, REJECT, or OFFER primitive. The ACCEPT 
primitive permits a negotiation process 3172 to accept a set of 
terms and conditions. The REJECT primitive permits a process 
3172 to reject an offered set of terms and conditions. Rejecting a 
set of required terms and conditions may terminate the 
negotiation. OFFER permits a counter-offer to be made. 

The HAVE, QUIT, and AGREEMENT primitives permit the 
negotiation protocols to pass information about rule sets. Shared 
knowledge negotiations may, for example, start with all 
negotiation processes 3172A-3172N asserting HAVE (my PERC) to 
the other processes. HAVE is also used when an impasse is 
reached and one process 3172 needs to let the other process 3172 
know about permitted options. QUIT signals an unsuccessful end 
of the negotiation without reaching an agreement, while 
AGREEMENT signals a successful end of an agreement and 
passes the resulting "negotiated" PERC/URT 3160 to the other 
process(es) 3172 for signature. 


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In "trusted negotiator" negotiations, all parties provide their 
demands and preferences to a "trusted" negotiator and agree to be 
bound by her decision. This is similar to binding arbitration in 
today's society. VDE enables this mode of negotiation by providing 
an environment in which a "trusted" negotiation service may be 
created. VDE provides not only the mechanism by which 
demands, desires, and limits may be concisely specified (e.g., in 
PERCs), but in which the PERCs may be securely transferred to a 
"trusted" negotiation service along with a rule set that specifies 
how the negotiation will be conducted, and by providing a secure 
execution environment so that the negotiation process may not be 
tampered with. Trusted negotiator services can be used at VDE 
sites where the integrity of the site is well known. Remote trusted 
negotiation services can be used by VDE sites that do not possess 
sufficient computing resources to execute one or more negotiation 
process(es); they can establish a communication link to a VDE site 
that provides this service and permits the service to handle the 
negotiation on their behalf. 

"Zero-based" knowledge negotiations share some 
characteristics of the zero-based knowledge protocols used for 
authentication. It is well understood in the art how to construct a 
protocol that can determine if a remote site is the holder of a 
specific item without exchanging or exposing the item. This type 
of protocol can be constructed between two negotiation processes 
operating on at least one VDE site using a control set as their 
knowledge base. The negotiation processes may exchange 
information about their control sets, and may make demands and 
counter proposals regarding using their individual rule sets. For 
example, negotiation process A may communicate with negotiation 


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process B to negotiate rights to read a book. Negotiation process A 
specifies that it will pay not more than $10.00 for rights to read 
the book, and prefers to pay between $5.00 and $6.00 for this 
right. Process A's rule set also specifies that for the $5.00 option, 
it will permit the release of the reader's name and address. 
Process B's rule set specifies that it wants $50.00 for rights to read 
the book, and will provide the book for $5.50 if the user agrees to 
release information about himself. The negotiation might go 
something like this: 


Process A <— > Process B 

Want (right to read, unrestricted) — > 

< — Have(right to read, 
unrestricted, $50) 

Offer (right to read, tender 
user info) — > 

< — Have(right to read, 

tender user info, $5.50) 

Accept(right to read, tender 
user info, $5.50) > 


In the above example, process A first specifies that it desires 
the right to read the book without restrictions or other information 
release. This starting position is specified as a rights option in the 
PERC that process A is using as a rule. Process B checks its rules 
and determines that an unrestricted right to read is indeed 
permitted for a price of $50. It replies to process A that these 
terms are available. Process A receives this reply and checks it 
against the control set in the PERC it uses as a rule base. The 
$50 is outside the $10 limit specified for this control set, so Process 
A cannot accept the offer. It makes a counter offer (as described in 
another optional rights option) of an unrestricted right to read 
coupled with the release of the reader's name and address. The 


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name and address fields are described in a DTD referenced by 
Process A's PERC. Process B checks its rules PERC and 
determines that an unrestricted right to read combined with the 
release of personal information is a permitted option. It compares 
the fields that would be released as described in the DTD provided 
by Process A against the desired fields in a DTD in its own PERC, 
and determines an acceptable match has occurred. It then sends 
an offer for unrestricted rights with the release of specific 
information for the cost of $5.50 to Process A. Process A compares 
the right, restrictions, and fields against its rule set and 
determines that $5.50 is within the range of $5-$6 described as 
acceptable in its rule set. It accepts the offer as made. The offer 
is sealed by both parties "signing" a new PERC that describes the 
results of the final negotiation (unrestricted rights, with release of 
user information, for $5.50). The new PERC may be used by the 
owner of Process A to read the content (the book) subject to the 
described terms and conditions. 

Further Chain of Handling Model 

As described in connection with Figure 2, there are four (4) 
"participant" instances of VDE 100 in one example of a VDE chain 
of handling and control used, for example, for content distribution. 
The first of these participant instances, the content creator 102, is 
manipulated by the publisher, author, rights owner or distributor 
of a literary property to prepare the information for distribution to 
the consumer. The second participant instance, VDE rights 
distributor 106, may distribute rights and may also administer 
and analyze customers' use of VDE authored information. The 
third participant instance, content user 112, is operated by users 
(included end-users and distributors) when they use information 


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The fourth participant instance, financial clearinghouse 116 
enables the VDE related clearinghouse activities. A further 
participant, a VDE administrator, may provide support to keep 
VDE 100 operating properly. With appropriate authorizations and 
Rights Operating System components installed, any VDE 
electronic appliance 600 can play any or all of these participant 
roles. 

Literary property is one example of raw material for VDE 
100. To transfer this raw material into finished goods, the 
publisher, author, or rights owner uses tools to transform digital 
information (such as electronic books, databases, computer 
software and movies) into protected digital packages called 
"objects." Only those consumers (or others along the chain of 
possession such as a redistributor) who receive permission from a 
distributor 106 can open these packages. VDE packaged content 
can be constrained by "rules and control information" provided by 
content creator 102 and/or content distributor 106 — or by other 
VDE participants in the content's distribution pathway, i.e., 
normally by participants "closer" to the creation of the VDE 
secured package than the participant being constrained. 

Once the content is packaged in an "object," the digital 
distribution process may begin. Since the information packages 
themselves are protected, they may be freely distributed on CD- 
ROM disks, through computer networks, or broadcast through 
cable or by airwaves. Informal "out of channel" exchange of 
protected packages among end-users does not pose a risk to the 
content property rights. This is because only authorized 
individuals may use such packages. In fact, such "out of channel" 


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distribution may be encouraged by some content providers as a 
marginal cost method of market penetration. Consumers with 
usage authorizations (e.g., a VISA clearinghouse budget allowing a 
certain dollar amount of usage) may, for example, be free to 
license classes of out of channel VDE protected packages provided 
to them, for example, by a neighbor. 

To open a VDE package and make use of its content, an end- 
user must have permission. Distributors 106 can grant these 
permissions, and can very flexibly (if permitted by senior control 
information) limit or otherwise specify the ways in which package 
contents may be used. Distributors 106 and financial 
clearinghouses 116 also typically have financial responsibilities 
(they may be the same organization in some circumstances if 
desired). They ensure that any payments required from end-users 
fulfill their own and any other participant's requirements. This is 
achieved by auditing usage. 

Distributors 106 using VDE 100 may include software 
publishers, database publishers, cable, television, and radio 
broadcasters, and other distributors of information in electronic 
form. VDE 100 supports all forms of electronic distribution, 
including distribution by broadcast or telecommunications, or by 
the physical transfer of electronic storage media. It also supports 
the delivery of content in homogeneous form, seamlessly 
integrating information from multiple distribution types with 
separate delivery of permissions, control mechanisms and content. 

Distributors 106 and financial clearinghouses 116 may 
themselves be audited based on secure records of their 


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administrative activities and a chain of reliable, "trusted" 
processes ensures the integrity of the overall digital distribution 
process. This allows content owners, for example, to verify that 
they are receiving appropriate compensation based on actual 
content usage or other agreed-upon bases. 

Since the end-user 112 is the ultimate consumer of content 
in this example, VDE 100 is designed to provide protected content 
in a seamless and transparent way — so long as the end-user stays 
within the limits of the permissions she has received. The 
activities of end-user 112 can be metered so that an audit can be 
conducted by distributors 106. The auditing process may be 
filtered and/or generalized to satisfy user privacy concerns. For 
example, metered, recorded VDE content and/or appliance usage 
information may be filtered prior to reporting it to distributor 106 
to prevent more information than necessary from being revealed 
about content user 112 and/or her usage. 

VDE 100 gives content providers the ability to recreate 
important aspects of their traditional distribution strategies in 
electronic form and to innovatively structure new distribution 
mechanisms appropriate to their individual needs and 
circumstances. VDE 100 supports relevant participants in the 
chain of distribution, and also enables their desired pricing 
strategies, access and redistribution permissions, usage rules, and 
related administrative and analysis procedures. The reusable 
functional primitives of VDE 100 can be flexibly combined by 
content providers to reflect their respective distribution objectives. 
As a result, content providers can feed their information into 


615 


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established distribution channels and also create their own 
personalized distribution channels. 


A summary of the roles of the various 1. articipants of virtual 
distribution environment 100 is set forth in the table below: 


Role 1 

Description 

Traditional* Participants - 

Content creator 

Packager and initial distributor of digital 
information 

Content owner 

Owner of the digital information. 

Distributors 

Provide rights distribution services for budgets 
and/or content. 

Auditor 

Provides services for processing and reducing 
usage based audit trails. 

Clearinghouse 

Provides intermediate store and forward services 
for content and audit information. Also, typically 
provides a platform for other services, including 
third party financial providers and auditors. 

Network provider 

Provides communication services between sites 
and other participants. 

Financial providers 

Provider of third party sources of electronic funds 
to end-users and distributors. Examples of this 
class of users are VISA, American Express, or a 
government. 

End Users 

Consumers of information. 

Other Participants 

Redistributor 

Redistributes rights to use content based on chain 
of handling restrictions from content providers 
and/or other distributors. 

VDE Administrator 

Provider of trusted services for support of VDE 
nodes. 


(0064091.01) 


Role 

Description 

Independent Audit 
Processor 

Provider of services for processing and 
summarizing audit trail data. Provides 
anonymity to end-users while maintaining the 
comprehensive audit capabilities required by the 
content providers. 

Agents 

Provides distributed presence for end-users and 
other VDE participants. 


Of these various VDE participants, the "redistributor," "VDE 
Administrator," "independent audit processor" and "agents" are, in 
certain respects "new" participants that may have no counterpart 
in many "traditional" business models. The other VDE 
participants (i.e., content provider, content owner, distributors, 
auditor, clearinghouse, network provider and financial providers) 
have "traditional" business model counterparts in the sense that 
traditional distribution models often included non-electronic 
participants performing some of the same business roles they serve 
in the virtual distribution environment 100. 

VDE distributors 106 may also include "end-users" who 
provide electronic information to other end-users. For example, 
Figure 77 shows a further example of a virtual distribution 
environment 100 chain of handling and control provided by the 
present invention. As compared to Figure 2, Figure 77 includes a 
new "client administrator" participant 700. In addition, Figure 77 
shows several different content users 112(1), 112(2), . . . , 112(n) 
that may all be subject to the "jurisdiction" of the client 
administrator 700. Client administrator 700 may be, for example, 
a further rights distributor within a corporation or other 
organization that distributes rights to employees or other 


617 


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• 



organization participant units (such as divisions, departments, 
networks, and or groups, etc.) subject to organization-specific 
"rules and control information " The client administrator 700 may 
fashion rules and control information for distribution, subject to 
"rules and control" specified by creator 102 and/or distributor 106. 

As mentioned above, VDE administrator 116b is a trusted 
VDE node that supports VDE 100 and keeps it operating properly. 
In this example, VDE administrator 116b may provide, among 
others, any of all of the following: 

• VDE appliance initialization services 

• VDE appliance reinitialization/update services 

• Key management services 
"Hot lists" of "rogue" VDE sites 

• Certification authority services 

• Public key registration 

• Client participant unit content budgets and other 


All participants of VDE 100 have the innate ability to 
participate in any role. For example, users may gather together 
existing protected packages, add (create new content) packages of 
their own, and create new products. They may choose to serve as 
their own distributor, or delegate this responsibility to others. 
These capabilities are particularly important in the object oriented 
paradigm which is entering the marketplace today. The 
production of compound objects, object linking and embedding, and 
other multi-source processes will create a need for these 
capabilities of VDE 100. The distribution process provided by 


authorizations 


618 


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VDE 100 is symmetrical; any end-user may redistribute 
information received to other end-users, provided they possess 
permission from and follow the rules established by the 
distribution chain VDE control information governing 
redistribution. End-users also may, within the same rules and 
permissions restriction, encapsulate content owned by others 
within newly published works and distribute these works 
independently. Royalty payments for the new works may be 
accessed by the publisher, distributors, or end-users, and may be 
tracked and electronically collected at any stage of the chain. 

Independent financial providers can play an important role 
in VDE 100. The VDE financial provider role is similar to the role 
played by organizations such as VISA in traditional distribution 
scenarios. In any distribution model, authorizing payments for use 
of products or services and auditing usage for consistency and 
irregularities, is critical. In VDE 100, these are the roles filled by 
independent financial providers. The independent financial 
providers may also provide audit services to content providers. 
Thus, budgets or limits on use, and audits, or records of use, may 
be processed by (and may also be put in place by) clearinghouses 
116, and the clearinghouses may then collect usage payments from 
users 112. Any VDE user 112 may assign the right to process 
information or perform services on their behalf to the extend 
allowed by senior control information. The arrangement by which 
one VDE participant acts on behalf of another is called a "proxy." 
Audit, distribution, and other important rights may be "proxied" if 
permitted by the content provider. One special type of "proxy" is 
the VDE administrator 116b. A VDE administrator is an 


(0064091.01) 


organization (which may be acting also as a financial 
clearinghouse 116) that has permission to manage (for example, 
"intervene" to reset) some portion or all of VDE secure subsystem 
control information for VDE electronic appliances. This 
administration right may extend only to admitting new appliances 
to a VDE infrastructure and to recovering "crashed" or otherwise 
inoperable appliances, and providing periodic VDE updates. 

More On Object Creation, Distribution Methods, Budgets, and 
Audits 

VDE node electronic appliances 600 in the preferred 
embodiment can have the ability to perform object creation, 
distribution, audit collection and usage control functions provided 
by the present invention. Incorporating this range of capabilities 
within each of many electronic appliances 600 provided by the 
preferred embodiment is important to a general goal of creating a 
single (or prominent) standard for electronic transactions 
metering, control, and billing, that, in its sum of installations, 
constitutes a secure, trusted, virtual transaction/distribution 
management environment. If, generally speaking, certain key 
functions were generally or frequently missing, at least in general 
purpose VDE node electronic appliances 600, then a variety of 
different products and different standards would come forth to 
satisfy the wide range of applications for electronic 
transaction/distribution management; a single consistent set of 
tools and a single "rational," trusted security and commercial 
distribution environment will not have been put in place to answer 
the pressing needs of the evolving "electronic highway." Certain 
forms of certain electronic appliances 600 containing VDE nodes 


620 


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which incorporate embedded dedicated VDE microcontrollers such 
as certain forms of video cassette players, cable television 
converters and the like may not necessarily have or need full VDE 
capabilities. However, the preferred embodiment provides a 
number of distributed, disparately located electronic appliances 
600 each of which desirably include authoring, distribution, 
extraction, audit, and audit reduction capabilities, along with 
object authoring capabilities. 

The VDE object authoring capabilities provided by the 
preferred embodiment provides an author, for example, with a 
variety of menus for incorporating methods in a VDE object 300, 
including: 

• menus for metering and/or billing methods which 

define how usage of the content portion of a VDE 
object is to be controlled, 

• menus related to extraction methods for limiting 

and/or enabling users of a VDE object from 
extracting information from that object, and may 
include placing such information in a newly 
created and/or pre-existing VDE content 
container,, 

• menus for specifying audit methods — that is, 

whether or not certain audit information is to be 
generated and communicated in some secure 
fashion back to an object provider, object creator, 
administrator, and/or clearinghouse, and 

• menus for distribution methods for controlling how 

an object is distributed, including for example, 


621 


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controlling distribution rights of different 
participants "down" a VDE chain of content 
container handling. 
The authoring capabilities may also include procedures for 
distributing administrative budgets, object distribution control 
keys, and audit control keys to distributors and other VDE 
participants who are authorized to perform distribution and/or 
auditing functions on behalf of the author, distributors, and/or 
themselves. The authoring capabilities may also include 
procedures for selecting and distributing distribution methods, 
audit methods and audit reduction methods, including for 
example, securely writing and/or otherwise controlling budgets for 
object redistribution by distributors to subsequent VDE chain of 
content handling participants. 

The content of an object 300 created by an author may be 
generated with the assistance of a VDE aware application program 
or a non-VDE aware application program. The content of the 
object created by an author in conjunction with such programs 
may include text, formatted text, pictures, moving pictures, 
sounds, computer software, multimedia, electronic games, 
electronic training materials, various types of files, and so on, 
without limitation. The authoring process may encapsulate 
content generated by the author in an object, encrypt the content 
with one or more keys, and append one or more methods to define 
parameters of allowed use and/or required auditing of use and/or 
payment for use of the object by users (and/or by authorized users 
only). The authoring process may also include some or all aspects 
of distributing the object. 


622 


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In general, in the preferred embodiment, an author can: 

A. Specify what content is to be included in an object. 

B. Specify content oriented methods including: 

Information-typically abstract, promotional, 
identifying, scheduling, and/or other information 
related to the content and/or author 

Content-e.g. list of files and/or other information 
resources containing content, time variables, etc. 

C. Specify control information (typically a collection of 

methods related to one another by one or more 
permissions records, including any method 
defining variables) and any initial authorized user 
list including, for example: 
Control information over Access & Extraction 
Control information over Distribution 
Control information over Audit Processing 

A VDE node electronic appliance 600 may, for example, 
distribute an object on behalf of an object provider if a VDE node 
receives from an object provider administrative budget information 
for distributing the object and associated distribution key 
information. 

A VDE node electronic appliance 600 may receive and 
process audit records on behalf of an object provider if that VDE 
node receives any necessary administrative budget, audit method, 
and audit key information (used, for example, to decrypt audit 
trails), from the object provider. An auditing-capable VDE 
electronic appliance 600 may control execution of audit reduction 


623 


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methods. "Audit reduction" in the preferred embodiment is the 
process of extracting information from audit records and/or 
processes that an object provider (e.g., any object provider along a 
chain of handling of the object) has specified to be reported to an 
object's distributors, object creators, client administrators, and/or 
any other user of audit information. This may include, for 
example, advertisers who may be required to pay for a user's 
usage of object content. In one embodiment, for example, a 
clearinghouse can have the ability to "append" budget, audit 
method, and/or audit key information to an object or class or other 
grouping of objects located at a user site or located at an object 
provider site to ensure that desired audit processes will take place 
in a "trusted" fashion. A participant in a chain of handling of a 
VDE content container and/or content container control 
information object may act as a "proxy" for another party in a 
chain of handling of usage auditing information related to usage of 
object content (for example a clearinghouse, an advertiser, or a 
party interested in market survey and/or specific customer usage 
information). This may be done by specifying, for that other party, 
budget, audit method, and/or key information that may be 
necessary to ensure audit information is gathered and/or provided 
to, in a proper manner, said additional party. For example, 
employing specification information provided by said other party. 

Object Creation and Initial Control Structures 

The VDE preferred embodiment object creation and control 
structure design processes support fundamental configurability of 
control information. This enables VDE 100 to support a full 
range of possible content types, distribution pathways, usage 


624 


(0O64O91.01) 


control information, auditing requirements, and users and user 
groups. VDE object creation in the preferred embodiment employs 
VDE templates whose atomic elements represent at least in part 
modular control processes. Employing VDE creation software (in 
the preferred embodiment a GUI programming process) and VDE 
templates, users may create VDE objects 300 by, for example, 
partitioning the objects, placing "meta data" (e.g., author's name, 
creation date, etc.) into them, and assigning rights associated with 
them and/or object content to, for example, a publisher and/or 
content creator. When an object creator runs through this process, 
she normally will go through a content specification procedure 
which will request required data. The content specification 
process, when satisfied, may proceed by, for example, inserting 
data into a template and encapsulating the content. In addition, 
in the preferred embodiment, an object may also automatically 
register its presence with the local VDE node electronic appliance 
600 secure subsystem, and at least one permissions record 808 
may be produced as a result of the interaction of template 
instructions and atomic methods, as well as one or more pieces of 
control structure which can include one or more methods, budgets, 
and/or etc. A registration process may require a budget to be 
created for the object. If an object creation process specifies an 
initial distribution, an administrative object may also be created 
for distribution. The administrative object may contain one or 
more permission records 808, other control structures, methods, 
and/or load modules. 

Permissions records 808 may specify various control 
relationships between objects and users. For example, VDE 100 


625 


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supports both single access (e.g., one-to-one relationship between a 
user and a right user) and group access (any number of people 
may be authorized as a group). A single permissions record 808 
can define both single and group access. VDE 100 may provide 
"sharing" a process that allows multiple users to share a single 
control budget as a budget. Additional control structure concepts 
include distribution, redistribution, and audit, the latter 
supporting meter and budget information reduction and/or 
transfer. All of these processes are normally securely controlled by 
one or more VDE secure subsystems. 

Templates and Classes 

VDE templates, classes, and flexible control structures 
support frameworks for organizations and individuals that create, 
modify, market, distribute, redistribute, consume, and otherwise 
use movies, audio recordings and live performances, magazines, 
telephony based retail sales, catalogs, computer software, 
information databases, multimedia, commercial communications, 
advertisements, market surveys, infomercials, games, CAD/CAM 
services for numerically controlled machines, and the like. As the 
context surrounding these classes changes or evolves, the 
templates provided by the preferred embodiment of the present 
invention can be modified to meet these changes for broad use, or 
more focused activities. 

VDE 100 authoring may provide three inputs into a create 
process: Templates, user input and object content. Templates act 
as a set of control instructions and/or data for object control 
software which are capable of creating (and/or modifying) VDE 


(0064091.01) 


objects in a process that interacts with user instructions and 
provided content to create a VDE object. Templates are usually 
specifically associated with object creation and/or control 
structures. Classes represent user groups which can in lude 
"natural" groups within an organization, such as department 
members, specific security clearance levels, etc., or ad hoc lists of 
individual's and/or VDE nodes. 

For example, templates may be represented as text files 
defining specific structures and/or component assemblies. 
Templates, with their structures and/or component assemblies may 
serve as VDE object authoring or object control applications. A 
creation template may consist of a number of sub-templates, 
which, at the lowest level, represent an "atomic level" of 
description of object specification. Templates may present one or 
more models that describe various aspects of a content object and 
how the object should be created including employing secure 
atomic methods that are used to create, alter, and/or destroy 
permissions records 808 and/or associated budgets, etc. 

Templates, classes (including user groups employing an 
object under group access), and flexible control structures 
including object "independent" permissions records (permissions 
that can be associated with a plurality of objects) and structures 
that support budgeting and auditing as separate VDE processes, 
help focus the flexible and configurable capabilities inherent 
within authoring provided by the present invention in the context 
of specific industries and/or businesses and/or applications. VDE 
rationalizes and encompasses distribution scenarios currently 


(0064091.01) 


employed in a wide array of powerful industries (in part through 
the use of application or industry specific templates). Therefore, it 
is important to provide a framework of operation and/or structure 
to allow existing industries and/or applications and/or businesses 
to manipulate familiar concepts related to content types, 
distribution approaches, pricing mechanisms, user interactions 
with content and/or related administrative activities, budgets, and 
the like. 

The VDE templates, classes, and control structures are 
inherently flexible and configurable to reflect the breadth of 
information distribution and secure storage requirements, to allow 
for efficient adaptation into new industries as they evolve, and to 
reflect the evolution and/or change of an existing industry and/or 
business, as well as to support one or more groups of users who 
may be associated with certain permissions and/or budgets and 
object types. The flexibility of VDE templates, classes, and basic 
control structures is enhanced through the use of VDE aggregate 
and control methods which have a compound, conditional process 
impact on object control. Taken together, and employed at times 
with VDE administrative objects and VDE security arrangements 
and processes, the present invention truly achieves a content 
control and auditing architecture that can be configured to most 
any commercial distribution embodiment. Thus, the present 
invention fully supports the requirements and biases of content 
providers without forcing them to fit a predefined application 
model. It allows them to define the rights, control information, 
and flow of their content (and the return of audit information) 
through distribution channels. 


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Modifying Object Content (Adding, Hiding, Modifying, Removing, 
and/or Extending) 

Adding new content to objects is an important aspect of 
authoring provided by the present invention. Providers may wish 
to allow one or more users to add, hide, modify, remove and/or 
extend content that they provide. In this way, other users may 
add value to, alter for a new purpose, maintain, and/or otherwise 
change, existing content. The ability to add content to an empty 
and/or newly created object is important as well. 

When a provider provides content and accompanying control 
information, she may elect to add control information that enables 
and/or limits the addition, modification, hiding and/or deletion of 
said content. This control information may concern: 

• the nature and/or location of content that may be 

added, hidden, modified, and/or deleted; 

• portions of content that may be modified, hidden, 

deleted and/or added to; 

• required secure control information over subsequent - 

VDE container content usage in a chain of control 
and/or locally to added, hidden, and/or modified 
content; 

• requirements that provider-specified notices and/or 

portions of content accompany added, hidden, 
deleted and/or modified content and/or the fact 
that said adding, hiding, modification and/or 
deletion occurred; 

• secure management of limitations and/or 

requirements concerning content that may be 


(0064091.01) 


removed, hidden and/or deleted from content, 
including the amount and/or degree of addition, 
hiding, modification and/or deletion of content; 

• providing notice to a provider or providers that 

modification, hiding, addition and/or deletion has 
occurred and/or the nature of said occurrence; and 

• other control information concerned with 

modification, addition, hiding, and/or deleting 
provider content. 

A provider may use this control information to establish an 
opportunity for other users to add value to and/or maintain 
existing content in a controlled way. For example, a provider of 
software development tools may allow other users to add 
commentary and/or similar and/or complementary tools to their 
provided objects. A provider of movies may allow commentary 
and/or promotional materials to be added to their materials. A 
provider of CAD/CAM specifications to machine tool owners may 
allow other users to modify objects containing instructions 
associated with a specification to improve and/or translate said 
instructions for use with their equipment. A database owner may 
allow other users to add and/or remove records from a provided 
database object to allow flexibility and/or maintenance of the 
database. 

Another benefit of introducing control information is the 
opportunity for a provider to allow other users to alter content for 
a new purpose. A provider may allow other users to provide 
content in a new setting. 


(0064091.01) 


To attach this control information to content, a provider may 
be provided with, or if allowed, design and implement, a method or 
methods for an object that govern addition, hiding, modification 
and/or deletion of content. Design and implementation of such one 
or more methods may be performed using VDE software tools in 
combination with a PPE 650. The provider may then attach the 
method(s) to an object and/or provide them separately. A 
permissions record 808 may include requirements associated with 
this control information in combination with other control 
information, or a separate permissions record 808 may be used. 

An important aspect of adding or modifying content is the 
choice of encryption/decryption keys and/or other relevant aspects 
of securing new or altered content. The provider may specify in 
their method(s) associated with these processes a technique or 
techniques to be used for creating and/or selecting the 
encryption/decryption keys and/or other relevant aspect of securing 
new and/or altered content. For example, the provider may 
include a collection of keys, a technique for generating new keys, a 
reference to a load module that will generate keys, a protocol for 
securing content, and/or other similar information. 

Another important implication is the management of new 
keys, if any are created and/or used. A provider may require that 
such keys and reference to which keys were used must be 
transmitted to the provider, or she may allow the keys and/or 
securing strategy to remain outside a provider's knowledge and/or 
control. A provider may also choose an intermediate course in 


631 


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which some keys must be transmitted and others may remain 
outside her knowledge and/or control. 

An additional aspect related to the management of keys is 
the management of permissions associated with an object resulting 
from the addition, hiding, modification and/or deletion of content. 
A provider may or may not allow a VDE chain of control 
information user to take some or all of the VDE rules and control 
information associated with granting permissions to access and/or 
manipulate VDE managed content and/or rules and control 
information associated with said resulting object. For example, a 
provider may allow a first user to control access to new content in 
an object, thereby requiring any other user of that portion of 
content to receive permission from the first user. This may or may 
not, at the provider's discretion, obviate the need for a user to 
obtain permission from the provider to access the object at all. 

Keys associated with addition, modification, hiding and/or 
deletion may be stored in an independent permissions record or 
records 808. Said permissions record(s) 808 may be delivered to a 
provider or providers and potentially merged with an existing 
permissions record or records, or may remain solely under the 
control of the new content provider. The creation and content of 
an initial permissions record 808 and any control information over 
the permissions record(s) are controlled by the method(s) 
associated with activities by a provider. Subsequent modification 
and/or use of said permission record(s) may involve a provider's 
method(s), user action, or both. A user's ability to modify and/or 
use permissions record(s) 808 is dependent on, at least in part, the 


632 


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senior control information associated with the permissions 
record(s) of a provider. 

Distribution Control information 

To enable a broad and flexible commercial transaction 
environment, providers should have the ability to establish firm 
control information over a distribution process without unduly 
limiting the possibilities of subsequent parties in a chain of 
control. The distribution control information provided by the 
present invention allow flexible positive control. No provider is 
required to include any particular control, or use any particular 
strategy, except as required by senior control information. Rather, 
the present invention allows a provider to select from generic 
control components (which may be provided as a subset of 
components appropriate to a provider's specific market, for 
example, as included in and/or directly compatible with, a VDE 
application) to establish a structure appropriate for a given chain 
of handling/control. A provider may also establish control 
information on their control information that enable and limit 
modifications to their control information by other users. 

The administrative systems provided by the present 
invention generate administrative "events" These "events" 
correspond to activities initiated by either the system or a user 
that correspond to potentially protected processes within VDE. 
These processes include activities such as copying a permissions 
record, copying a budget, reading an audit trail record, copying a 
method, updating a budget, updating a permissions record, 
updating a method, backing up management files, restoring 


633 


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management files, and the like. Reading, writing, modifying, 
updating, processing, and/or deleting information from any portion 
of any VDE record may be administrative events. An 
administrative event may represent a process that performs one or 
more of the aforementioned activities on one or more portions of 
one or more records. 

When a VDE electronic appliance 600 encounters an 
administrative event, that event is typically processed in 
conjunction with a VDE PPE 650. As in the case of events 
generally related to access and/or use of content, in most cases 
administrative events are specified by content providers (including, 
for example, content creators, distributors, and/or client 
administrators) as an aspect of a control specified for an object, 
group and/or class of objects. 

For example, if a user initiates a request to distribute 
permission to use a certain object from a desktop computer to a 
notebook computer, one of the administrative events generated 
may be to create a copy of a permissions record that corresponds to 
the object. When this administrative event is detected by ROS 
602, an EVENT method for this type of event may be present. If 
an EVENT method is present, there may also be a meter, a billing, 
and a budget associated with the EVENT method. Metering, 
billing, and budgeting can allow a provider to enable and limit the 
copying of a permissions record 808. 

For example, during the course of processing a control 
program, a meter, a billing, and a budget and/or audit records may 


(0064091.01) 


be generated and/or updated. Said audit records may record 
information concerning circumstances surrounding an 
administrative event and processing of said event. For example, 
an audit record may contain a reference to a user and/or system 
activity that initiated an event, the success or failure of processing 
said event, the date and/or time, and/or other relevant 
information. 

Referring to the above example of a user with both a 
desktop and notebook computer, the provider of a permissions 
record may require an audit record each time a meter for copying 
said permissions record is processed. The audit record provides a 
flexible and configurable control and/or recording environment 
option for a provider. 

In some circumstances, it may be desirable for a provider to 
limit which aspects of a control component may be modified, 
updated, and/or deleted. "Atomic element definitions' 1 may be used 
to limit the applicability of events (and therefore the remainder of 
a control process, if one exists) to certain "atomic elements' 1 of a 
control component. For example, if a permissions record 808 is 
decomposed into "atomic elements 0 on the fields described in 
Figure 26, an event processing chain may be limited, for example, 
to a certain number of modifications of expiration date/time 
information by specifying only this field in an atomic element 
definition. In another example, a permissions record 808 may be 
decomposed into atomic elements based on control sets. In this 
example, an event chain may be limited to events that act upon 
certain control sets. 


(0064091.01) 


In some circumstances, it may be desirable for a provider to 
control how administrative processes are performed. The provider 
may choose to include in distribution records stored in secure 
database 610 information for use in conjunction with a component 
assembly 690 that controls and specifies, for example, how 
processing for a given event in relation to a given method and/or 
record should be performed. For example, if a provider wishes to 
allow a user to make copies of a permissions record 808, she may 
want to alter the permissions record internally. For example, in 
the earlier example of a user with a desktop and a notebook 
computer, a provider may allow a user to make copies of 
information necessary to enable the notebook computer based on 
information present in the desktop computer, but not allow any 
further copies of said information to be made by the notebook VDE 
node. In this example, the distribution control structure described 
earlier would continue to exist on the desktop computer, but the 
copies of the enabling information passed to the notebook 
computer would lack the required distribution control structure to 
perform distribution from the notebook computer. Similarly, a 
distribution control structure may be provided by a content 
provider to a content provider who is a distributor in which a 
control structure would enable a certain number of copies to be 
made of a VDE content container object along with associated 
copies of permissions records, but the permissions records would 
be altered (as per specification of the content provider, for 
example) so as not to allow end-users who received distributor 
created copies from making further copies for distribution to other 
VDE nodes. 


63F 


(0064091.01) 


Although the preceding example focuses on one particular 
event (copying) under one possible case, similar processes may be 
used for reading, writing, modifying, updating, processing, and/or 
deleting information from records and/or methods under any 
control relationship contemplated by the present invention. Other 
examples include: copying a budget, copying a meter, updating a 
budget, updating a meter, condensing an audit trail, and the like. 

Creating Custom Methods 

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, 
methods may be created "at will, 0 or aliased to another method. 
These two modes contribute to the superior configurability, 
flexibility, and positive control of the VDE distribution process. 
Generally, creating a method involves specifying the required 
attributes or parameters for the data portion of the method, and 
then "typing" the method. The typing process typically involves 
choosing one or more load modules to process any data portions of 
a method. In addition to the method itself, the process of method 
creation may also result in a method option subrecord for inclusion 
in, or modification of, a permissions record, and a notation in the 
distribution records. In addition to any "standard" load module(s) 
required for exercise of the method, additional load modules, and 
data for use with those load modules, may be specified if allowed. 
These event processing structures control the distribution of the 
method. 

For example, consider the case of a security budget. One 
form of a typical budget might limit the user to 10Mb of decrypted 
data per month. The user wishes to move their rights to use the 


637 


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relevant VDE content container object to their notebook. The 
budget creator might have limited the notebook to the same 
amount, half the original amount, a prorated amount based on the 
number of moves budgeted for an ooject, etc. A distribute method 
(or internal event processing structure) associated with the budget 
allows the creator of the budget to make a determination as to the 
methodology and parameters involved. Of course, different 
distribution methods may be required for the case of 
redistribution, or formal distribution of the method. The 
aggregate of these choices is stored in a permissions record for the 
method. 

An example of the process steps used for the move of a 
budget record might look something like this: 


3) Decrement the Deer counter in the old record (the 

original budget) 

4) Increment the Encumbrance counter in the old 


5) Write a distribution record 

6) Write a Distribution Event Id to the new record 

7) Increment the move meter 

8) Decrement the move budget 

9) Increment the Deer counter in the new record 


2) 

encumbrance) 


1) 


Check the move budget (e.g., to determine the 

number of moves allowed) 
Copy static fields to new record (e.g., as an 


record 


638 


(0064091.01) 


Creating a Budget 

In the preferred embodiment, to create a budget, a user 
manipulates a Graphical User Interface budget distribution 
application (e.g., a VDE template application). The user fills out 
any required fields for type(s) of budget, expiration cycle(s), 
auditors), etc. A budget may be specified in dollars, deutsche 
marks, yen, and/or in any other monetary or content measurement 
schema and/or organization. The preferred embodiment output of 
the application, normally has three basic elements. A notation in 
the distribution portion of secure database 610 for each budget 
record created, the actual budget records, and a method option 
record for inclusion in a permissions record. Under some 
circumstances, a budget process may not result in the creation of a 
method option since an existing method option may be being used. 
Normally, all of this output is protected by storage in secure 
database 610 and/or in one or more administrative objects. 

There are two basic modes of operation for a budget 
distribution application in the preferred embodiment. In the first 
case, the operator has an unlimited ability to specify budgets. The 
budgets resulting from this type of activity may be freely used to 
control any aspect of a distribution process for which an operator 
has rights, including for use with "security* budgets such as 
quantities limiting some aspect of usage. For example, if the 
operator is a "regular person* he may use these budgets to control 
his own utilization of objects based on a personal accounting model 
or schedule. If the operator is an authorized user at VISA, the 
resulting budgets may have broad implications for an entire 


(0064091.01) 


distribution system. A core idea is that this mode is controlled 
strictly by an operator. 

The second mode of operation is used to create "alias" 
budgets. These budgets are coupled to a preexisting budget in an 
operator's system. When an operator fills a budget, an 
encumbrance is created on the aliased budget. When these types 
of budgets are created, the output includes two method option 
subrecords coupled together: the method option subrecord for the 
aliased budget, and a method option subrecord for the newly 
created budget. In most cases, the alias budget can be used in 
place of the original budget if the budget creator is authorized to 
modify the method options within the appropriate required method 
record of a permissions record. 

For example, assume that a user (client administrator) at a 
company has the company's VISA budget on her electronic 
appliance 600. She wants to distribute budget to a network of 
company users with a variety of preexisting budgets and 
requirements. She also wants to limit use of the company's VISA 
budget to certain objects. To do this, she aliases a company 
budget to the VISA budget. She then modifies (if so authorized) 
the permissions record for all objects that the company will allow 
their users to manipulate so that they recognize the company 
budget in addition to, or instead of, the VISA budget. She then 
distributes the new permissions records and budgets to her users. 
The audit data from these users is then reduced against the 
encumbrance on the company's VISA budget to produce a periodic 
billing. 


(0064091.01) 


In another example, a consumer wants to control his family's 
electronic appliance use of his VISA card, and prevent his children 
from playing too many video games, while allowing unlimited use 
of encyclopedias. In this case, he could create two budgets. The 
first budget can be aliased to his VISA card, and might only be 
used with encyclopedia objects (referenced to individual 
encyclopedia objects and/or to one or more classes of encyclopedia 
objects) that reference the aliased budget in their explicitly 
modified permissions record. The second budget could be, for 
example, a time budget that he redistributes to the family for use 
with video game objects (video game class). In this instance, the 
second budget is a "self-replenishing" security/control budget, that 
allows, for example, two hours of use per day. The first budget 
operates in the same manner as the earlier example. The second 
budget is added as a new required method to permissions records 
for video games. Since the time budget is required to access the 
video games, an effective control path is introduced for requiring 
the second budget - only permissions records modified to accept 
the family budget can be used by the children for video games and 
they are limited to two hours per day. 

Sharing and Distributing Rights and Budgets 
Move 

The VDE "move" concept provided by the preferred 
embodiment covers the case of "friendly sharing" of rights and 
budgets. A typical case of "move" is a user who owns several 
machines and wishes to use the same objects on more than one of 
them. For example, a user owns a desktop and a notebook 
computer. They have a subscription to an electronic newspaper 


641 


(0064091.01) 


that they wish to read on either machine, i.e., the user wishes to 
move rights from one machine to the other. 

An important concept within "move" is the idea of 
independent operation. Any electronic appliance 600 to which 
rights have been moved may contact distributors or clearinghouses 
independently. For example, the user mentioned above may want 
to take their notebook on the road for an extended period of time, 
and contact clearinghouses and distributors without a local 
connection to their desktop. 

To support independent operation, the user should be able to 
define an account with a distributor or clearinghouse that is 
independent of the electronic appliance 600 she is using to 
connect. The transactions must be independently traceable and 
reconcilable among and between machines for both the end user 
and the clearinghouse or distributor. The basic operations of 
moving rights, budgets, and bitmap or compound meters between 
machines is also supported. 

Redistribution 

Redistribution forms a UDE middle ground between the 
"friendly sharing* of "move," and formal distribution. 
Redistribution can be thought of as "anonymous distribution" in 
the sense that no special interaction is required between a creator, 
clearinghouse, or distributor and a redistributor. Of course, a 
creator or distributor does have the ability to limit or prevent 
redistribution. 


642 


(0064091.01) 


Unlike the "move 44 concept, redistribution does not imply 
independent operation. The redistributor serves as one point of 
contact for users receiving redistributed rights and/or budgets, etc. 
These users have no knowledge of, or access to, the clearinghouse 
(or and/or distributor) accounts of the redistributor. The 
redistributor serves as an auditor for the rights and/or budgets, 
etc. that they redistribute, unless specifically overridden by 
restrictions from distributors and/or clearinghouses. Since 
redistributees (recipients of redistributed rights and/or budgets, 
etc.) would place a relatively unquantifiable workload on 
clearinghouses, and furthermore, since a redistributor would be 
placing himself at an auditable risk (responsible for all 
redistributed rights and/or budgets, etc.), the audit of rights, 
budgets, etc. of redistributees by redistributors is assumed as the 
default case in the preferred embodiment. 

Distribution 

Distribution involves three types of entity. Creators usually 
are the source of distribution. They typically set the control 
structure "context 44 and can control the rights which are passed 
into a distribution network. Distributors are users who form a 
link between object (content) end users and object (content) 
creators. They can provide a two-way conduit for rights and audit 
data. Clearinghouses may provide independent financial services, 
such as credit and/or billing services, and can serve as distributors 
and/or creators. Through a permissions and budgeting process, 
these parties collectively can establish fine control over the type 
and extent of rights usage and/or auditing activities. 


643 


(0064091.01) 


Encumbrance 

An "encumbrance" is a special type of VDE budget. When 
that a budget distribution of any type occurs, an "encumbrance" 
may be generated. An encumbrance is indistinguishable from an 
original budget for right exercise (e.g., content usage payment) 
purposes, but is uniquely identified within distribution records as 
to the amount of the encumbrance, and all necessary information 
to complete a shipping record to track the whereabouts of an 
encumbrance. For right exercise purposes, an encumbrance is 
identical to an original budget; but for tracking purposes, it is 
uniquely identifiable. 

In the preferred embodiment of the present invention, a 
Distribution Event ID will be used by user VDE nodes and by 
clearinghouse services to track and reconcile encumbrances, even 
in the case of asynchronous audits. That is, the "new" 
encumbrance budget is unique from a tracking point of view, but 
indistinguishable from a usage point of view. 

Unresolved encumbrances are a good intermediate control 
for a VDE distribution process. A suitable "grace period" can be 
introduced during which encumbrances must be resolved. If this 
period elapses, an actual billing or payment may occur. However, 
even after the interval has expired and the billing and/or payment 
made, an encumbrance may still be outstanding and support later 
reconciliation. In this case, an auditor may allow a user to gain a 
credit, or a user may connect to a VDE node containing an 
encumbered budget, and resolve an amount as an internal credit. 
In some cases, missing audit trails may concern a distributor 


644 


(0064091.01) 


sufficiently to revoke redistribution privileges if encumbrances are 
not resolved within a "grace period," or if there are repeated grace 
period violations or if unresolved encumbrances are excessively 
large. 

Encumbrances can be used across a wide variety of 
distribution modes. Encumbrances, when used in concert with 
aliasing of budgets, opens important additional distribution 
possibilities. In the case of aliasing a budget, the user places 
himself in the control path for an object - an aliased budget may 
only be used in conjunction with permissions records that have 
been modified to recognize it. An encumbrance has no such 
restrictions. 

For example, a user may want to restrict his children's use 
of his electronic, VDE node VISA budget. In this case, the user 
can generate an encumbrance on his VISA budget for the 
children's family alias budget, and another for his wife that is a 
transparent encumbrance of the original VISA budget. BigCo may 
use a similar mechanism to distribute VISA budget to department 
heads, and aliased BigCo budget to users directly. 

Account Numbers and User IDs 

In the preferred embodiment, to control access to 
clearinghouses, users are assigned account numbers at 
clearinghouses. Account numbers provide a unique "instance" 
value for a secure database record from the point of view of an 
outsider. From the point of view of an electronic appliance 600 
site, the user, group, or group/user ids provide the unique instance 


645 


(0064091.01) 


of a record. For example, from the point of view of VISA, your 
Gold Card belongs to account number #123456789. From the 
point of view of the electronic appliance site (for example, a server 
at a corporation), the Gold card might belong to user id 1023. In 
organizations which have plural users and/or user groups using a 
VDE node, such users and/or user groups will likely be assigned 
unique user IDs. differing budgets and/or other user rights may 
be assigned to different users and/or user groups and/or other VDE 
control information may be applied on a differing manner to 
electronic content and/or appliance usage by users assigned with 
different such IDs. Of course, both a clearinghouse and a local site 
will likely have both pieces of information, but "used data" versus 
the "comment data" may differ based on perspective. 

In the preferred embodiment case of "move," an account 
number stored with rights stays the same. In the preferred 
embodiment of other forms of distribution, a new account number 
is required for a distributee. This may be generated automatically 
by the system, or correspond to a methodology developed by a 
distributor or redistributor. Distributors maintain account 
numbers (and associated access secrets) in their local name 
services for each distributee. Conversely, distributees' name 
services may store account numbers based on user id for each 
distributor. This record usually is moved with other records in the 
case of move, or is generated during other forms of distribution. 

Organizations (including families) may automatically assign 
unique user IDs when creating control information (e.g., a budget) 
for a new user or user group. 


646 


(0064091.01) 


Requirements Record 

In order to establish the requirements, and potentially 
options, for exercising a right associated with a VDE content 
container object before one or more required permissions records 
are received for that object, a requirements record may exist in the 
private header of such an object. This record will help the user 
establish what they have, and what they need from a distributor 
prior to forming a connection. If the requirements or possibilities 
for exercising a particular right have changed since such an object 
was published, a modified requirements record may be included in 
a container with an object (if available and allowed), or a new 
requirements record may be requested from a distributor before 
registration is initiated. Distributors may maintain "catalogs" 
online, and/or delivered to users, of collections of requirements 
records and/or descriptive information corresponding to objects for 
which they may have ability to obtain and/or grant rights to other 
users. 

Passing an Audit 

In the preferred embodiment of VDE there may be at least 
two types of auditing. In the case of budget distribution, billing 
records that reflect consumption of a budget generally need to be 
collected and processed. In the case of permissions distribution, 
usage data associated with an object are also frequently required. 


In order to effect control over an object, a creator may 
establish the basic control information associated with an object. 
This is done in the formulation of permissions, the distribution of 
various security, administrative and/or financial budgets, and the 


647 


(0064091.01) 


level of redistribution that is allowed, etc. Distributors (and 
redistributors) may further control this process within the rights, 
budgets, etc. (senior control information) they have received. 

For example, an object creator may specify that additional 
required methods may be added freely to their permissions 
records, establish no budget for this activity, and allow unlimited 
redistribution of this right. As an alternative example, a creator 
may allow moving of usage rights by a distributor to half a dozen 
subdistributors, each of whom can distribute 10,000 copies, but 
with no redistribution rights being allowed to be allocated to 
subdistributors' (redistributors') customers. As another example, a 
creator may authorize the moving of usage rights to only 10 VDE 
nodes, and to only one level of distribution (no redistribution). 
Content providers and other contributors of control information 
have the ability through the use of permissions records and/or 
component assemblies to control rights other users are authorized 
to delegate in the permissions records they send to those users, so 
long as such right to control one, some, or all such rights of other 
users is either permitted or restricted (depending on the control 
information distribution model). It is possible and often desirable, 
using VDE, to construct a mixed model in which a distributor is 
restricted from controlling certain rights of subsequent users and 
is allowed to control other rights. VDE control of rights 
distribution in some VDE models will in part or whole, at least for 
certain one or more "levels" of a distribution chain, be controlled 
by electronic content control information providers who are either 
not also providers of the related content or provide only a portion 
of the content controlled by said content control information, for 


648 


(0064091.01) 


example, in certain models, a clearinghouse might also serve as a 
rights distribution agent who provides one or more rights to 
certain value chain participants, which one or more rights may be 
"attached" to one or more rights to use the clearinghouse's credit 
(if said clearinghouse is, at least in part, a financial clearinghouse 
(such a control information provider may alternatively, or in 
addition, restrict other users' rights. 

A content creator or other content control information 
provider may budget a user (such as a distributor) to create an 
unlimited number of permissions records for a content object, but 
revoke this right and/or other important usage rights through an 
expiration/termination process if the user does not report his usage 
(provide an audit report) at some expected one or more points in 
time and/or after a certain interval of time (and/or if the user fails 
to pay for his usage or violates other aspects of the agreement 
between the user and the content provider). This termination (or 
suspension or other specified consequence) can be enforced, for 
example, by the expiration of time-aged encryption keys which 
were employed to encrypt one or more aspects of control 
information. This same termination (or other specified 
consequence such as budget reduction, price increase, message 
displays on screen to users, messages to administrators, etc.) can 
also be the consequence of the failure by a user or the users VDE 
installation to complete a monitored process, such as paying for 
usage in electronic currency, failure to perform backups of 
important stored information (e.g., content and/or appliance usage 
information, control information, etc.), failure to use a repeated 
failure to use the proper passwords or other identifiers, etc.). 


649 


(0064091.01) 


Generally, the collection of audit information that is 
collected for reporting to a certain auditor can be enforced by 
expiration and/or other termination processes. For example, the 
user's VDE node may be instructed (a) from aii external source to 
no longer perform certain tasks, (b) carries within its control 
structure information informing it to no longer perform certain 
tasks, or (c) is elsewise no longer able to perform certain tasks. 
The certain tasks might comprise one or more enabling operations 
due to a user's (or installation's) failure to either report said audit 
information to said auditor and/or receive back a secure 
confirmation of receipt and/or acceptance of said audit information. 
If an auditor fails to receive audit information from a user (or 
some other event fails to occur or occur properly), one or more 
time-aged keys which are used, for example, as a security 
component of an embodiment of the present invention, may have 
their aging suddenly accelerated (completed) so that one or more 
processes related to said time-aged keys can no longer be 
performed. 

Authorization Access Tags and Modification Access Tags 

In order to enable a user VDE installation to pass audit 
information to a VDE auditing party such as a Clearinghouse, 
VDE allows a VDE auditing party to securely, electronically 
communicate with the user VDE installation and to query said 
installation for certain or all information stored within said 
installation's secure sub-system, depending on said auditing 
party's rights (said party shall normally be unable to access 
securely stored information that said party is not expressly 
authorized to access, that is one content provider will normally not 


650 


(0064091.01) 


be authorized to access content usage information related to 
content provided by a different content provider). The auditing 
party asserts a secure secret (e.g., a secure tag) that represents the 
set of rights of the auditor to access certain information 
maintained by said subsystem. If said subsystem validates said 
tag, the auditing party may then receive auditing information that 
it is allowed to request and receive. 

Great flexibility exists in the enforcement of audit trail 
requirements. For example, a creator (or other content provider or 
control information provider or auditor in an object's or audit 
report's chain of handling) may allow changes by an auditor for 
event trails, but not allow anyone but themselves to read those 
trails, and limit the redistribution of this right to, for example, six 
levels. Alternatively, a creator or other controlling party may give 
a distributor the right to process, for example, 100,000 audit 
records (and/or, for example, the right to process 12 audit records 
from a given user) before reporting their usage. If a creator or 
other controlling party desires, he may allow (and/or require) 
separate (and containing different, a subset of, overlapping, or the 
same information) audit "packets" containing audit information, 
certain of said audit information to be processed by a distributor 
and certain other of said audit information to be passed back to 
the creator and/or other auditors (each receiving the same, 
overlapping, a subset of, or different audit information). Similarly, 
as long as allowed by, for example, an object creator, a distributor 
(or other content and/or control information provider) may require 
audit information to be passed back to it, for example, after every 
50,000 audit records are processed (or any other unit of quantity 


(0064091.01) 


and/or after a certain time interval and/or at a certain 
predetermined date) by a redistributor. In the preferred 
embodiment, audit rules, like other control structures, may be 
stipulated at any stage of a distribution chain of handling as long 
as the right to stipulate said rules has not been restricted by a 
more "senior" object and/or control information distributing (such 
as an auditing) participant. 

Audit information that is destined for different auditors may 
be encrypted by different one or more encryption keys which have 
been securely provided by each auditor's VDE node and 
communicated for inclusion in a user's permissions record(s) as a 
required step, for example, during object registration. This can 
provide additional security to further ensure (beyond the use of 
passwords and/or other identification information and other VDE 
security features) that an auditor may only access audit 
information to which he is authorized. In one embodiment, 
encrypted (and/or unencrypted) "packets" of audit information (for 
example, in the form of administrative objects) may be bound for 
different auditors including a clearinghouse and/or content 
providers and/or other audit information users (including, for 
example, market analysts and/or list purveyors). The information 
may pass successively through a single chain of handling, for 
example, user to clearinghouse to redistributor to distributor to 
publisher/object creator, as specified by VDE audit control 
structures and parameters. Alternatively, encrypted (or, normally 
less preferably, unencrypted) audit packets may be required to be 
dispersed directly from a user to a plurality of auditors, some one 
or more who may have the responsibility to "pass along" audit 


652 


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packets to other auditors. In another embodiment, audit 
information may be passed, for example, to a clearinghouse, which 
may then redistribute all and/or appropriate subsets of said 
information (and/or some processed result) to one or more other 
parties, said redistribution employing VDE secure objects created 
by said clearinghouse. 

An important function of an auditor (receiver of audit 
information) is to pass administrative events back to a user VDE 
node in acknowledgement that audit information has been 
received and/or "recognized." In the preferred embodiment, the 
receipt and/or acceptance of audit information may be followed by 
two processes. The first event will cause the audit data at a VDE 
node which prepared an audit report to be deleted, or compressed 
into, or added to, one or more summary values. The second event, 
or set of events, will "inform" the relevant security (for example, 
termination and/or other consequence) control information (for 
example, budgets) at said VDE node of the audit receipt, modify 
expiration dates, provide key updates, and/or etc. In most cases, 
these events will be sent immediately to a site after an audit trail 
is received. In some cases, this transmission may be delayed to, 
for example, first allow processing of the audit trail and/or 
payment by a user to an auditor or other party. 

In the preferred embodiment, the administrative events for 
content objects and independently distributed methods/component 
assemblies are similar, but not necessarily identical. For example, 
key updates for a budget may control encryption of a billing trail, 
rather than decryption of object content. The billing trail for a 


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budget is in all respects a method event trail. In one embodiment, 
this trail must include sufficient references into distribution 
records for encumbrances to allow reconciliation by a 
clearinghouse. This may occur, for example, if a grace period 
elapses and the creator of a budget allows unresolved 
encumbrances to ultimately yield automatic credits if an expired 
encumbrance is "returned" to the creator. 

Delivery of audit reports through a path of handling may be 
in part insured by an inverse (return of information) audit method. 
Many VDE methods have at least two pieces: a portion that 
manages the process of producing audit information at a user's 
VDE node; and a portion that subsequently acts on audit data. In 
an example of the handling of audit information bound for a 
plurality of auditors, a single container object is received at a 
clearinghouse (or other auditor). This container may contain (a) 
certain encrypted audit information that is for the use of the 
clearinghouse itself, and (b) certain other encrypted audit 
information bound for other one or more auditor parties. The two 
sets of information may have the same, overlapping and in part 
different, or entirely different, information content. Alternatively, 
the clearinghouse VDE node may be able to work with some or all 
of the provided audit information. The audit information may be, 
in part, or whole, in some summary and/or analyzed form further 
processed at the clearinghouse and/or may be combined with other 
information to form a, at least in part, derived set of information 
and inserted into one or more at least in part secure VDE objects 
to be communicated to said one or more (further) auditor parties. 
When an audit information container is securely processed at said 


(0064091.01) 


clearinghouse VDE node by said inverse (return) audit method, the 
clearinghouse VDE node can create one or more VDE 
administrative objects for securely carrying audit information to 
other auditors while separately processing the secure audit 
information that is specified for use by said clearinghouse. Secure 
audit processes and credit information distribution between VDE 
participants normally takes place within the secure VDE "black 
box," that is processes are securely processed within secure VDE 
PPE650 and audit information is securely communicated between 
the VDE secure subsystems of vDE participants employing VDE 
secure communication techniques (e.g., public key encry