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License-tracking plan more than token

A consortium of software, Internet, and communications companies announced an initiative for electronic "tokens" to allow the tracking of licenses.

A consortium of software, Internet, and communications companies has announced an initiative to develop standards and distribute electronic "tokens" that would allow software publishers to track their licenses over the Internet, the Boston Globe reported today.

The group, to be called the Electronic Licensing and Security Initiative, includes Stream International, BBN, KPMG, and LitleNet, a credit verification and processing company.

Many software companies, including industry leader Microsoft, would like to sell their applications over the Net because they could save on the distribution costs associated with publishing and shipping shrink-wrapped software to retail stores. But they also want to make sure that they can track licenses for this software over the Net so that they can keep tabs on who got which copy when, as well as whether they paid for it.

Stream International chairman Mort Rosenthal said the electronic tokens will allow software customers to track what software they own and create an independent repository for proof of licensing that both customers and vendors could rely on.

The group wants to start testing the service by the end of the year. Stream itself today disclosed its intention to open a Web site where software could be resold.

Microsoft and First Data will also support the initiative, Rosenthal said.

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