Digital Property Rights vs. Human Rights:
Desperate Publishing Houses Are Demanding A New Dark Ages

Roger Clarke

Principal, Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra

Visiting Fellow, Department of Computer Science, Australian National University

Invited Presentation to the A.C.S. (S.A.) Conference on Ubiquitous Computing: Trends, Tricks And Traps, Adelaide, 31 October - 1 November 2002

Version of 23 October 2002

© Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 2002

This Abstract is at

The PowerPoint slide-set is available at


Corporations that publish music, text and images are in denial. Threatened by the information-liberating power of the digital era, they are trying to turn technology to their advantage, by locking up content, demanding the identifiers of people who access content, and intruding into those people's personal devices. Canute-like, they are demanding that governments grant them even more legal rights and powers, and spend taxpayers' money enforcing those new laws.

This presentation examines the implications of weak-kneed governments (like those in the US and Australia) continuing to do what the powerful publishers tell them to do.


This presentation is based on the speaker's key papers on this topic, which are:

Clarke R. & Dempsey G. (1999) 'Electronic Trading in Copyright Objects and Its Implications for Universities', Proc. CAUSE Conf., April 1999, at

Clarke R. (1999) 'Freedom of Information? The Internet as Harbinger of the New Dark Ages', Proc. Conf. 'Freedom of Information and the Right to Know', Melbourne, 19-20 August 1999. Republished in First Monday 4, 11 (November 1999), at, at

Clarke R., Higgs P. & Dempsey G. (2000) 'Key Design Issues in Marketspaces for Intellectual Property Rights' Proc. 13th International EC Conf., Bled, Slovenia, 19-21 June 2000, at

Clarke R. & Nees S. (2000) 'Technological Protections for Digital Copyright Objects' Proc. ECIS 2000 Conf., Vienna, 3-5 July 2000, pp. 745-752, at, with the PowerPoint slide presentation at

Clarke R. (2001a) 'DRM Will Beget DCRM' Position Paper for the W3C DRM Workshop, Sophia Antipolis, France, 22-23 January 2001, at

Clarke R. (2001b) 'Paradise Gained, Paradise Re-lost: How the Internet is being Changed from a Means of Liberation to a Tool of Authoritarianism' Mots Pluriels 18, August 2001, at

Some Other Recent Papers

Stallman R. (2002) 'Can You Trust Your Computer?', Newsforge, Monday October 21, 2002, at

Anderson R. (2002) 'TCPA / Palladium Frequently Asked Questions', July 2002-, at


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Created: 13 August 2002

Last Amended: 23 October 2002

These community service pages are a joint offering of the Australian National University (which provides the infrastructure), and Roger Clarke (who provides the content).
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