The advent of distributed computing over high-bandwidth wide-area networks looks like a worst-case scenario for intellectual property. Owners of content -- text, images, music, motion pictures -- are understandably fearful of releasing proprietary information into an environment which is lacking in security and has no accepted means of accounting for use and copying. The variety of formats and the variety of proprietary interests involved complicate the problem and attempts at solutions.
On April 2 and 3, 1993, four organizations involved in networking and multimedia issues sponsored a two-day workshop at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government to address the problem. These organizations -- the Coalition for Networked Information, the Interactive Multimedia Association, the MIT Program on Digital Open High Resolution Systems, and the Information Infrastructure Project in the Kennedy School's Science, Technology and Public Policy Program -- represented a set of different perspectives on what all saw as a broad common problem.