The Digital Imprimatur

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The Digital Imprimatur is an article about Internet censorship written in 2003 by John Walker.[1] Walker is co-founder of the computer-aided design software company Autodesk,[2] and hence "digital imprimatur" is a term widely associated with him. In the Roman Catholic Church, an imprimatur is a censor's official declaration that a work is free from doctrinal or moral error,[3][4] but Walker uses the term "digital imprimatur" to describe a system of Internet censorship.

In his article Walker argues that there is increasingly a crackdown on the ability for Internet users to voice their ideas, as well as an upcoming official state of Internet censorship on the horizon. Walker claims that the most likely candidate to usher in the digital imprimatur is digital rights management, or DRM.[1][5][6]

A similar scenario was outlined by Richard Stallman, in his 1997 article and essay "The Right to Read".[7][6]

Other people[who?] predict the establishment of a dynamic equilibrium between repressive official and commercial technologies and more free, but in some cases illegal, technologies, resulting in the emergence of darknets and anonymous P2P systems, together with alternative networking systems (including but not limited to sneakernets and both fixed and ad hoc wireless mesh networks), and vivid underground cultures and black markets centered on them, in accordance with the iron law of prohibition.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b John Walker (2003), "The Digital Imprimatur: How big brother and big media can put the Internet genie back in the bottle", Knowledge, Technology & Policy, Volume 16, Issue 3 (Fall 2003), Springer, pages 24-77, ISSN 0897-1986 (print), ISSN 1874-6314 (online), doi: 10.1007/s12130-003-1032-6. Retrieved 11 August 2014.
  2. ^ "Autodesk Founder Saddles Up and Leaves", John Markoff, New York Times, 28 April 1994. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Word of the Day: imprimatur". 2004-08-19. Retrieved 2013-01-22. 
  4. ^ "Code of Canon Law, canon 830 §3". 2007-05-04. Retrieved 2013-01-22. 
  5. ^ "Digital Imprimatur in a Nutshell", Donna Wentworth and Fred von Lohmann, Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved 7 April 2004.
  6. ^ a b "The digital imprimatur and the right to read", M. Kathleen Milberry, Geeks & Global Justice, 23 April 2008. Retrieved 12 August 2014.
  7. ^ "The Right to Read", Richard Stallman, Communications of the ACM (CACM), Volume 40, Number 2 (February 1997), Association for Computing Machinery, pages 85-87, ISSN 0001-0782 (print), ISSN 1557-7317 (electronic), doi:10.1145/253671.253726.