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Digital Rights Management Systems (DRMS)

The Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre
University of New South Wales Faculty of Law

Recent years have seen the development of a range of technological (and, to some extent, organisational) mechanisms to help secure intellectual property rights in digital artefacts. In sum, these mechanisms have tended to go under the name of Electronic Copyright Management Systems; more recent terminology refers increasingly to Digital Rights Management Systems (DRMS). Basically, such systems provide an infrastructure allowing the holder of copyright in an information product to enforce that right when the product is accessed online by other parties.

The development of DRMS involves a profound change in the way in which intellectual property rights are enforced. The impact of this change is augmented by the recent enactment of legislation both in Australian and overseas to protect such systems.

This symposium will discuss the implications of DRMS for the interests of information consumers and the general quality of life in the digital age. In particular, the symposium will canvass how DRMS might impact upon:

  • the privacy and autonomy of information consumers;
  • the scope of the exemptions from copyright which traditionally are provided under copyright law;
  • the ability to maintain ‘digital diversity’ and a broad public domain;
  • the status of copyright law in relation to contract law.


Monday 18 March 2002


Baker & McKenzie Board Room,
Level 26, AMP Centre
50 Bridge Street
Sydney, NSW 1223


Dr Lee A Bygrave, Co-director of the Baker & McKenzie Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre; Senior Research Fellow at the Norwegian Research Centre for Computers and Law.

Keynote speaker:

Professor Bernt Hugenholtz, Director of the Institute for Information Law, University of Amsterdam. Professor Bernt Hugenholtz is a renowned expert on copyright law and has closely followed the development of DRMS and their implications for copyright law.

Other presenters:

Peter Higgs, Chief Executive Officer, IPR Systems - will talk about issue balancing involved in development of online digital rights language (ODRL)

Dr Renato Iannella, Chief Scientist, IPR Systems - will give technical guide in layman's terms about ODRL


Representatives from the Government - Australian Digital Alliance, Attorney-General's Department
Representatives from the IT Industry - IPR Systems
Representatives from Academia - University of New South Wales, Australian National University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Amsterdam, University of Wollongong
Representatives from the Legal Industry - Baker & McKenzie, Gadens Lawyers
Representatives from Other Organisations - Cyberspace Law and Policy Centre, Communication Law Centre, Australian Society of Authors