Abstract Work has been going forward on the development of a frame of reference for locating and invoking digital information services and objects over communication systems and pathways having computational capabilities. An important concept in this context is the notion of a “digital object” as a set of sequences of bits, including a unique identifier for the object called a “handle”. A digital object may incorporate digital works and other digital information in which copyright, patent, trade secret and other rights or interests are claimed, although this need not always be the case. To take full advantage of the global information infrastructure, it is helpful for a commercial enterprise to develop a flexible terminology for thinking about digital information from a copyright perspective; in this regard, the concept of “digital work” is suggested. Clearance of rights and interests in connection with the “contents” of digital objects may be treated separately from compliance with procedures for accessing digital objects viewed as entities that incorporate and identify contents. A suggested legal framework is discussed.