Escrow services and incentives in peer-to-peer networks

Bill Horne, Benny Pinkas, Tomas Sander

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Distribution of content, such as music, remains one of the main drivers of P2P development. Subscription-based services are currently receiving a lot of attention from the content industry as a viable business model for P2P content distribution. One of the main problems that such services face is that users may choose to redistribute content outside the community of subscribers, thereby facilitating large-scale piracy. Digital Rights Management (DRM) systems typically employ tamper resistance techniques to control this risk. We propose a system architecture that uses economic incentives instead of tamper resistance to motivate users to keep the content within the subscription community. The key technical contribution we make is to integrate a P2P file sharing service with an escrow service that reliably "pays" the party that is serving up the content. The payment itself can be realized in a number of ways, using " money" or bonus points such as frequent flyer miles. Moreover, our architecture facilitates trust between two unacquainted parties by offloading risk to a trusted third party, which can acquire a revenue stream by assuming this risk. To implement the escrow service securely we use cryptographic techniques, such as encryption, hashing, and error correcting codes. Our system motivates users to serve up content of high quality and verifies that users only share legitimate content and not spam, viruses or content that is not part of the subscription. We thereby address other important security concerns in P2P systems and problems like the free-rider phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes
EventEC'01: Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce - Tampa, FL, United States
Duration: 14 Oct 200117 Oct 2001


ConferenceEC'01: Proceedings of the 3rd ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityTampa, FL


Dive into the research topics of 'Escrow services and incentives in peer-to-peer networks'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this