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Roger Clarke's 'Submission to the Innovation Review'

Innovation and Open Access to Information

Roger Clarke **

Submission to the Review of the National Innovation System

21 April 2008

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This submission addresses firstly the role that open accessibility of information plays in innovation, and secondly the impact of intellectual property laws on open accessibility.

The analysis in Clarke & Dempsey (2004) - Annex A to this Submission - concludes that the current state of patent and copyright laws are seriously detrimental to innovation in Australia.

Many of the harmful aspects of patent and copyright law derive from international conventions and in particular from the spectacularly inadvisable intellectual property chapter of the 'Free Trade' Agreement entered into with the U.S.A. by the previous Government. An assessment of the US-FTA provisions is in Clarke (2004) - Annex B to this Submission.

It is vital that the excesses of patent and copyright law be wound back, and the mechanisms adapted to appropriately balance the needs of producers and users of information, rather than being grossly biassed in favour of large corporations that extract long-term rents from their IP portfolios, and in the process slow down innovation.

This Submission urges the Review Committee to confront the political challenges, the treaty obligations and the entreaties of lobbyists for retention of the corporate welfare scheme that intellectual property laws currently represent. Unless major changes are made in this area, the positive measures that the Review Committee will doubtless recommend will have disappointingly limited impact.



Clarke R. & Dempsey G. (2004) 'The Economics of Innovation in the Information Industries' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 2004, at


Clarke R. (2004) 'The Economic and Cultural Impacts of the Free Trade Agreement Provisions relating to Copyright and Patent Law' Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, March 2004, at

Author Affiliations

Roger Clarke is Principal of Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, Canberra. He is also a Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre at the University of N.S.W., a Visiting Professor in the E-Commerce Programme at the University of Hong Kong, and a Visiting Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the Australian National University.

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From the site's beginnings in August 1994 until February 2009, the infrastructure was provided by the Australian National University. During that time, the site accumulated close to 30 million hits. It passed 65 million in early 2021.

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Created: 21 April 2008 - Last Amended: 21 April 2008 by Roger Clarke - Site Last Verified: 15 February 2009
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