The cops get guns, then the robbers get guns. The cops get Kevlar vests, and now the robbers have to locate a supply of armor-piercing bullets. The battle is never completely won, but technology does tend to favor the good guys because the good guys are better funded. Perhaps the most ambitious copy protection project yet would begin with software tools and move on up to more secure hardware solutions. The software part, unveiled this summer, begins with a document delivery system called the "cryptolope," for cryptographic envelope. A cryptolope is a program that encases encrypted data and tells the potential buyer a little about its contents, via windows that appear on the computer screen. When the buyer pays for the right to view the document inside, he gets--on-line or from a disk--a key that decodes the contents. In the current version, unveiled by IBM in May, once the contents are in the clear, the user can do with them as he pleases. "We felt we needed to focus on payment assurance rather than copy protection," says Jeff Crigler, vice president of IBM's InfoMarket service. "That makes it easy for people to stay on the right side of the law, hard for others to break it. Then you use the force of law against those who do." But ultimately the contents of a cryptolope will be protected by a digital property rights language developed by Mark Stefik of Xerox's R&D lab in Palo Alto, Calif. You'd need a compliant system to display any material encoded in that language.... [5]