Digital objects offer the possibility of what is called super distribution. Super distribution refers to a mechanism whereby individuals can buy access to a digital object, and also pass along the object to others who can similarly buy access, and pass along the object to still others, etc. The notion is very much like that of shareware today.
“Shareware” refers to software that is copyrighted, and for which the author seeks payment, but whose reproduction is not limited by the author. Shareware computer programs are intended to be copied and circulated freely to others. Payment is rendered either on the “honor system” or in order to gain additional features or capabilities. The key point about shareware, and the mechanism of super distribution, is that distribution is accomplished by individuals to other individuals, not through stores or other commercial entities.
The difference between shareware and the use of digital objects for super distribution is that digital objects would not rely on the honor system. Rather, any user’s access to the object would by some technical means be confined to those who have paid whatever fee is called for by the author.