The Concept and the Architecture

Special Issue on Cryptography and Information Security

By Ryoichi Mori
Institute of Information Sciences and Electronics
University of Tsukuba
Tsukuba-shi. 305 Japan


Masaji Kawahara
Master's Degree Program in Sciences and Engineering
University of Tsukuba
Tsukuba-shi, 305 Japan.


Superdistribution is an approach to distributing software in which software is made available freely and without restriction but is protected from modifications and modes of usage not authorized by its vendor. By eliminating the need of software vendors to protect their products against piracy through copy protection and similar measures, superdistribution promotes unrestricted distribution of software. The superdistribution architecture we have developed provides three principal functions: administrative arrangements for collecting accounting information on software usage and fees for software usage; an accounting process that records and accumulates usage charges, payments, and the allocation of usage charges among different software vendors; and a defense mechanism, utilizing digitally protected modules, that protects the system against interference with its proper operation. Superdistribution software is distributed over public channels in encrypted form. In order to participate in superdistribution a computer must be equipped with an S-box -- a digitally protected module containing microprocessors, RAM, ROM, and a real-time clock. The S-box preserves secret information such as a deciphering key and manages the proprietary aspects of the superdistribution system. A Software Usage Monitor insures the integrity of the system and keeps track of accounting information. The S box can be realized as a digitally protected module in the form of a three dimensional integrated circuit.

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