Micropayments and principle 4

Priniciple 4 states:

4. Representation retrieval is safe:
Agents do not incur obligations by retrieving a representation.

I am worried that this precludes the eventual development of 
micropayments; in particular pay for page models. Although as yet 
theoretical, one of the explicit goals of micropayments is to make 
the cost low enough that the user does not need to decide whether to 
pay for each song/article/stock quote/picture/movie etc. They can 
just click through the site, read what they want, and have the 
appropriate pennies deducted from their account or charged to their 
credit card. Obviously this involves the incurrence of financial 

Perhaps this can be argued around by claiming the obligation is 
actually only incurred when the user signs up for the micropayment 
scheme, not when the user reads the page, but that doesn't really 
feel right to me.


| Elliotte Rusty Harold | elharo@metalab.unc.edu | Writer/Programmer |
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Received on Monday, 9 September 2002 10:09:48 UTC