Darknet is a term used by Microsoft in its paper "The Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution
" written by
Peter Biddle, Product Unit Manager working on NGSCB
Paul England, cryptographer with Microsoft research
Marcus Peinado, Architect, Digital Media Division
Bryan Willman, presumably a Microsoft employee. He has written other papers, which can be found at
The term refers not to a physical network, like the Internet
, but rather to an application and protocol that uses a physical network like the Internet. Such darknets include IRC
networks such as KaZaA
, and even informal e-mail mailing lists
. In the paper referenced above, darknets are decried as dens of thieves who wantonly break copyright law
by sharing CD keys, files, programs, and information enabling others to obtain things and spread them around using the darknet in question.
Most interesting about the Darknet paper is a paragraph near the end, page 15, section 5.2 "Business in the Face of the Darknet"
There is evidence that the darknet will continue to exist and provide low cost, highquality
service to a large group of consumers. This means that in many markets, the
darknet will be a competitor to legal commerce. From the point of view of economic
theory, this has profound implications for business strategy: for example, increased
security (e.g. stronger DRM systems) may act as a disincentive to legal commerce.
Consider an MP3 file sold on a web site: this costs money, but the purchased object is as
useful as a version acquired from the darknet. However, a securely DRM-wrapped song is
strictly less attractive: although the industry is striving for flexible licensing rules,
customers will be restricted in their actions if the system is to provide meaningful security.
This means that a vendor will probably make more money by selling unprotected objects
than protected objects. In short, if you are competing with the darknet, you must compete
on the darknet's own terms: that is convenience and low cost rather than additional
You can read the Darknet paper in its entirety at http://msl1.mit.edu/ESD10/docs/darknet5.pdf