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Enhancing the information business


The Internet has turned the sale and resale of information into a growing business, resulting in the birth of new enterprises. Making their creation and work easier is OPELIX’s open software toolset enhancing the uptake of this innovative business model.

"The OPELIX project was dedicated to information e-commerce, i.e. the sale of information over the Internet," project coordinator Anne Marie Sassen at Atos Origin, formerly SchlumbergerSema, notes. "This obviously represents some very specific problems over traditional e-commerce where there is a manufactured, physical product."

Information is an intangible asset, one that can be easily copied and manipulated, and protecting it is therefore crucial to ensuring the success of information companies, whether they take the form of sellers or intermediaries. During the course of the IST programme funded OPELIX project an original security solution was devised to ensure copyright protection, one that is continuing to be developed today.

"Most information we had to deal with in the OPELIX project was textual information which can be easily copied. Therefore it is necessary for the original author to have proof of authorship," Sassen notes. "We solved this problem by issuing timestamps for text documents."

In this way the party with the oldest timestamp can prove they are the true author of the content, and while most timestamps usually have limited validity, the timestamp-chain system developed by OPELIX lasts virtually forever.

Beyond the security question, the OPELIX toolset also offers a business model for the creation of an information commerce system, a kind of information e-marketplace, where data can be found and its purchase negotiated. For this, the project’s novel ’business offer language’ was developed to define, interpret and negotiate the information offers of sellers and the requests of buyers via intermediaries.

The OPELIX toolset, which was completed a year ago and which is currently available on Sourceforge was validated in two case studies carried out by project partners LogOn and Culturall. Both LogOn’s portal for information exchange and distribution and Culturall’s software evaluation database service remain in use today.

Although the problems that hit the Internet sector earlier this decade had an impact on the rate of growth of information businesses, Sassen believes that information intermediation will become broadly accepted and widely used over the coming years.

"I think the models for intermediation businesses that resulted from the project remain valid today and there will be more and more of these businesses in the future," the project coordinator notes.

Anne Marie Sassen
Atos Origin
Albarracín, 25
E-28037 Madrid
Tel: +34-91-4408800
Fax: +34-91-7543252

Source: Based on information from OPELIX

Tara Morris | IST Results
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