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Patent appraised by patentsbase$ 69000
GLOBAL PATENTRANK# 56.000
A method and system are provided for facilitating the purchase of a license for a downloaded file of a copyrighted work. In one embodiment, a method for licensing a digital copy of a copyrighted work includes determining an identity of the digital copy by using at least one computer program, calculating a fee for a license for the digital copy by the at least one computer program. The step of calculating includes the step of measuring at least one metric of the digital copy. A license is then provided for the copy after receiving payment of the fee.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS
The present invention facilitates the purchase of a license for an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work so as to take advantage of the distribution system that is already in place using the Internet. Specifically, the invention allows consumers to obtain a license for an unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work that was downloaded from the Internet. Note that the unauthorized copy is a digital copy of a copyrighted work such as a computer program, music, movie, and the like.
FIG. 1 is a flow chart showing the steps to purchasing a license for an unauthorized digital copy of a copyrighted work according to an embodiment of the invention. At step , a consumer downloads a digital copy of a copyrighted work. The consumer may download a digital copy of a copyrighted work in any desired manner. For example, the consumer may use an application such as Napster or Gnutella to download the digital file onto his computer.
After downloading the digital copy, the consumer wants to purchase a license for the downloaded file. The consumer has many good reasons for purchasing a copyright license. The consumer may be a law-abiding citizen and wish to comply with the copyright laws. The consumer may be a religious person and may wish to remain a morally upright person. Additionally, after purchasing a license, the consumer can register his downloaded digital file with the copyright owner, and receive customer support. For example, if the consumer has downloaded a copy of a computer program, then the consumer can obtain a license and register with the copyright owner of the computer program via the Internet or by phone. Thereafter, the consumer is able to obtain customer support when using the computer program. Similarly, a consumer who licenses a poorly digitized MP3 file may be offered the option (for free or otherwise) of downloading a higher quality version.
Since many consumers do not know certain characteristics of a file that they are downloading, which are important for receiving a fair price when purchasing a copyright license, a computer program (“conscienceware program”) is provided that facilitates the transaction. FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a wide area network for downloading the conscienceware program and for purchasing a license according to an embodiment of the invention. FIG. 2 depicts a client computer , connected via a communications network such as the Internet , to a web server of the authorized website . Note that there may be many other computers that may be connected to the web server at the same time. Also, multiple servers may service multiple client computers . Alternatively, the conscienceware program could also be distributed via publication on Gnutella, or even via inclusion in a data partition of a music CD or a DVD.
To interactively browse the authorized website , the client computer runs a web browser application (e.g., Microsoft Internet Explorer™ or Netscape Communicator™). The authorized website includes the web server that sends web pages in the form of HyperText Markup Language (HTML) documents, which may be stored in database , to the client computer using the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). The server includes a processor to execute the web server software, and an operating system program and applications programs including the conscienceware program , a file identification application and a licensing program . The server also has a memory including databases - that stores data files for comparison by the file identification application , and a cache memory . The file identification application and licensing program may be executing on the server , or may be executing on a separate computer. In the present invention, the file identification application compares the files stored in databases - with the file attribute information that is sent by the client running the conscienceware program , as described below.
In order to download the conscienceware program , at step the consumer accesses the authorized website by communicating an HTTP request from the web browser . The HTTP request includes the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) of the home page of the authorized website. The HTTP request is routed to the web server via the Internet . The web server retrieves the home page identified by the URL, and transmits the home page over the Internet to the web browser . The HTML document may be sent in the form of plural message packets as defined by the Transport Control Protocol/Internet Protocol (TCP/IP).
At the home page, a hypertext link is provided that links to a download page of the conscienceware program . By clicking on the highlighted link, the download page is retrieved by the server and sent to the web browser . At the download page, the consumer chooses among various platforms in order to download a compatible version of the conscienceware program for the particular client platform. For example, if the client computer is operating on the Windows™ operating system, then he selects the Windows platform. It can also be coded in a platform-independent language such as Java.
After the choosing the appropriate platform, at step the consumer downloads the conscienceware program to his computer by clicking on the download button. After downloading and installing the conscienceware program, at step the conscienceware program checks to see if the downloaded file is a usable copy. For example, when the user selects the downloaded file for the conscienceware program to check at step , the conscienceware program checks to see if there is a valid serial number associated with the downloaded digital file or that the encryption has been removed. If the downloaded file is a copy of a software program, then the program may not be usable without a valid serial number (e.g., Microsoft Windows 98™). Similarly, a downloaded digital file of a movie “ripped” from a DVD is checked by the conscienceware program to make sure that the encryption has been removed.
Next, the identity of the downloaded file needs to be determined. The identity of the downloaded file may be made using the method disclosed in copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 09/561,751, which is incorporated herein by reference. Any other suitable verification technology may also be used, such as pattern matching or digital watermarking. In addition, when the conscienceware database is unable to identify a work, the work can be manually reviewed and added to the database. In order for the conscienceware program to identify the downloaded file, a connection may need to be maintained by the client computer with the authorized website . Alternatively, the client and the server may maintain a stateless connection such that only when the client needs to send identification information to the server and download a license is the client connected to the server.
In one embodiment, the conscienceware program samples a portion of the downloaded file and generates a “checksum” of the file, which is a unique number based on a range or ranges of bytes in a file. Unlike checksums as they are traditionally used in the computing field, the checksum described herein is not related to the total number of bytes used to generate the number, thus reducing a traditional problem with checksums, namely that similar file lengths are more likely to generate the same checksum than are dissimilar file lengths.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, two separate checksums are generated for a file corresponding to two different length portions of the file. While it is possible that the first checksum based on a shorter length portion of the file may falsely match the checksum of another file, it is highly unlikely that the second checksum would result in a false match. In addition, the use of an initial checksum based upon a small amount of data reduces the burden on the network and file server. This reduction is a result of the ability to disqualify a file that does not match the first checksum without the need to read the larger amount of data necessary to generate the second checksum. Specifically, the conscienceware program reads a first portion of the downloaded file, which may be the first one thousand (1024) bytes of the file, and at step generates a first checksum. At step , the first checksum is uploaded to the server . The file identification application at step compares the first checksum with a library of known checksum values that are stored in database . This step provides an initial identification of the downloaded file.
If there is not a match based on the initial screen of the file at step , then at step a license is refused by the authorized website. If there is a match at step , then the conscienceware program reads a second portion of the downloaded file, which may be the first ten thousand (10240) bytes of the file, and generates a second checksum at step . At step , the second checksum is then uploaded to the server , and at step is compared to the library of known checksum values for a match in database . This step provides a more conclusive determination of the identity of the downloaded file. If there is not a match at step , then at step a license is refused by the authorized website. If there is a match at step , then at step the file identification program reads the identification information of the known checksums and stores it in the cache memory . Note that identification information may also include the particular version of the copyrighted work that was downloaded.
As described above, the first one thousand bytes and the first ten thousand bytes are used for the two checksums, respectively. For most applications, the use of the entire file or a larger portion of the file is not necessary and indeed may slow the process; however, there is no reason why the entire file or any other subset of the file could not be used. In an alternative embodiment, the first and last portions of the file are used for generating the checksums, although premature file truncation then becomes a way to defeat the screen. It is also possible to use other data to improve the quality of the initial screen, such as the length of the file and the file name. Any file matching the initial screen criteria is then checked against one or more checksum tests. Yet another alternative embodiment is to simultaneously generate both the initial screen checksum and the confirmation checksum in a single file read, thereby reducing the number of distinct disk access events. Verification is optional when the initial screen is performed using a checksum, as the checksum denotes a nearly certain match.
In an alternative embodiment of the invention, a downloaded file includes certain identifying data that permits unique identification of that file. For example, MP3 encoders can be configured to encode this information into the first bytes of each MP3 file. As such, the MP3 file would carry the signature of the music CD that it was created from. This would permit the conscienceware program to scan the downloaded file for the signature code of a particular CD. When such a code is found, the code can be uploaded to the server so that it can be checked against a database of known reference codes, with the identity of the work being stored in cache memory . Further, the downloaded file may include a version number that is embedded in the file. The conscienceware program would then be able to read the version number and upload it to the server for storage in the cache memory .
At step , the conscienceware program measures various metrics of the downloaded file in order to determine a fair price for a license. For example, for a downloaded digital copy of a copyrighted song that is in the MP3 format, the conscienceware application determines a sampling rate for the MP3 music file. After determining the sampling rate, at step this information is uploaded to the server for storage in cache memory . Other metrics that may be measured and uploaded to the server may include the length in bytes of the file, the version of the file, the type of work downloaded, and the like.
After all of the relevant information is stored in the cache memory , such as the identity of the downloaded file, the sampling rate, the version, the type of work, and the like, at step the licensing program running on the server computes a price for a license for the downloaded file. Specifically, the licensing program computes a price based on the measured metrics. For example, if the downloaded file is the most recent version of a copyrighted work, then the price would be higher than for an earlier version. The type of work would also be considered in determining a fair price for the work so that if the downloaded file is a DVD movie file, then a license for this type of work may be higher than for a song. Additionally, the length of the digital file would be considered in computing a fair price. Further, the sampling rate of the compressed has a sampling rate that is below 32 kbps, then it may be licensed for free. If the MP3 music file has a sampling rate above 32 kbps but below 64 kbps, then it may be licensed for $0.50, and so on. Other defects in the copy, such as background hiss indicating that the data has once been stored in analog (i.e., cassette tape or the like), or encoding defects such as pops may also influence the price calculation. Thus, the licensing program is able to calculate a price for a license based on the measured metrics.
Optionally, the licensing program may offer a discount to the consumer, or simply refuse a license to the consumer, unless the consumer discloses the source from which they downloaded the digital copy. The licensing program would then verify that the copyrighted work is available at the source. This would provide the additional benefit to the copyright owner of discovering the identity of the entity that is pirating copyrighted works.
At step , the consumer is provided the terms for the license including the price and conditions of use. If the terms are satisfactory for the consumer, then at step the consumer accepts the terms of the license and provides payment for the license, preferably via a credit card. At step , the server receives the order, and processes the order by verifying the credit card payment. After verification of the payment method, at step the server sends to the client computer a digital file containing a license as proof that the consumer has obtained a valid license for the downloaded file. After receipt of the file, at step the consumer prints the license on his printer. Additionally or alternatively, the license may be centrally stored in the conscienceware database under the consumer's name and password.
In another embodiment of the invention, the consumer may be provided an option to upgrade the copy of the copyrighted work that was downloaded with a more recent version or a better quality copy from the authorized website . FIG. 3 shows the steps for upgrading the downloaded file according to an embodiment of the invention. Steps - are the same as step - of FIG. .
If the consumer has the best copy available of the copyrighted work or does not want to upgrade at step , then at step the consumer can decline to upgrade by accepting the terms of the license for the already downloaded file and paying the license fee. Steps -, are the same as steps - of FIG. . If the consumer does not have the best copy available and wants to upgrade at step , then at step the authorized website provides to the consumer the terms including price and conditions of use for the upgraded copy. For example, a consumer who is seeking a license for Windows 98™ may be offered the opportunity to download and upgrade to Windows 2000™. Or, a consumer who has downloaded a MP3 music file having a 64 kbps sampling rate may be able to upgrade to a CD-quality 148 kbps-sampling rate MP3 music file. For software that requires a valid serial number to run, the consumer may optionally be given a unique, new serial number in exchange for the pirated one they had been using. Indeed, such a switch may be required and the pirated serial number disabled in the next version of the software.
If the terms are acceptable to the consumer, then at step the consumer accepts the terms of the license for the upgrade and provides payment for the license. At step , the server receives the acceptance by the consumer and verifies the payment method. After verification of the payment method, at step the server sends to the client computer the upgraded copy of the copyrighted work and a license for the copy. After receipt of the copy and license, at step the consumer prints the license on his computer.
Although in the embodiments described above, the conscienceware program is downloaded onto a client computer, in alternative embodiments, the program could be embedded in a web page that is sent to the client . Also, for a single file, such as a MP3 file, the file can be dropped onto a web page that allows uploading of the MP3 file so that conscienceware program running on the server operates on the file directly.
Alternatively, if the consumer already has information that is relevant to the pricing, the conscienceware program does not need to identify and measure the various metrics of the downloaded file. In this instance, the consumer accesses the authorized website and inputs the required information and purchases a license for the downloaded file.
In the method and system of the present invention, there are no added costs that must be passed on to the consumer for the distribution of copyrighted works. Since a consumer initially obtained a copyrighted file for free, there are no associated distribution costs that must be passed on to the consumer. Further, the invention allows consumers to easily obtain a license so that they do not have to feel anxiety and guilt for the illegal downloading of protected works.
Having thus described a preferred embodiment of a method and system of licensing of copyrighted works, it should be apparent to those skilled in the art that certain advantages have been achieved. It should also be appreciated that various modifications, adaptations, and alternative embodiments thereof may be made therein within the scope and spirit of the present invention. The invention is further defined by the following claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a flow chart showing the steps to purchasing a license for an unauthorized digital copy of a copyrighted work according to an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a wide area network for downloading the conscienceware program and for purchasing a license according to an embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 3 is a flow chart showing the steps to upgrading an already downloaded copy according to an embodiment of the invention.
CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION
This application claims priority pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/225,886, filed Aug. 17, 2000, which application is specifically incorporated herein, in its entirety, by reference.
1. At least one computer program embedded on a computer readable medium and used for licensing a digital copy of a copyrighted work distributed to a consumer via a first distribution system, said at least one computer program executable by a processor, said program including the steps of: determining an identity of said digital copy; calculating a price of a license for said digital copy, said step of calculating including the step of measuring at least one metric of said digital copy for calculating said price, said at least one metric being a detectable characteristic of said digital copy; and providing a license for said copy after receiving payment of said price from a consumer; wherein said at least one computer program is distributed from a second distribution system that is different and unrelated to said first distribution system; and wherein said step of determining an identity includes the steps of: generating a first checksum of a first portion of said digital copy; comparing said first checksum with a library of known checksums for a first match in order to ascertain the identity of said digital copy; generating a second checksum of a second portion of said digital copy; and comparing said second checksum with said library of known checksums for a second match in order to further ascertain the identity of said digital copy, said library of known checksums being stored in a database that is electronically accessible to said processor; wherein said first portion is based on a shorter portion of said digital copy than said second portion.
2. The program of claim 1, including the step of verifying that said digital copy is a usable copy.
3. The program of claim 2, wherein said digital copy is a usable copy if said digital copy includes a valid serial number.
4. The program of claim 2, wherein said digital copy is a usable copy if said digital copy is not encrypted.
5. The program of claim 1, wherein said step of measuring includes the step of identifying a version of said digital copy with respect to available versions of said copyrighted work.
6. The program of claim 1, wherein said step of measuring includes the step of determining a length of said digital copy.
7. The program of claim 1, wherein said step of measuring includes the step determining a sampling rate of said digital copy.
8. The program of claim 1, wherein said step of measuring includes the step determining a type of work of said digital copy.
9. The program of claim 1, wherein said step of determining an identity includes the steps of: scanning said digital copy for an identifying code; and comparing said code with known reference codes for a match in order to ascertain the identity of said digital copy.
10. The program of claim 1, further comprising the step of allowing said consumer to upgrade said digital copy to a second digital copy including at least one of a newer version, a better quality copy, a valid serial number, and a higher sampling rate.
11. A web host for licensing a digital copy of a copyrighted work distributed to a consumer from a decentralized distribution system, comprising: at least one web server; a storage medium accessible by said at least one web server, said storage medium including at least one database, said at least one database including a plurality of known checksums of copyrighted works and a plurality of reference codes for identifying copyrighted works; and at least one computer program operable with said at least one web server performing various functions including identifying said digital copy from said decentralized distribution system and calculating a fee for a license for said digital copy based on various metrics of said digital copy, said metrics being detectable characteristics of said digital copy; wherein said identifying function of said digital copy includes comparing first and second checksums of said digital copy to said known checksums of copyrighted works for a first match and a second match and wherein said first and second checksums are generated using two different length portions of said digital copy.
12. The web host of claim 11, wherein said calculating function of said fee for said license includes determining at least one of a version, a length, a sampling rate and a type of work of said digital copy.
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