[Fsfe-ie] european constitution and IP

Teresa Hackett teresahackett at eircom.net
Fri Mar 18 23:25:12 CET 2005

This question came up a couple of weeks ago. Some of the EDRi folk find 
the IP text of the constitution most unfortunate, but not much is going 
on at the moment to oppose it (although the time to influence this would 
have been 2-4 years ago when the text was being discussed).

FFII have a page on the constitution 

The scope of the constitution is much wider than the UN Declaration of 
Human Rights.

"In the Constitution as part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights (an 
extension of the UN Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights):

"Article 15

 1. The States Parties to the present covenant recognize the right of 
   3. To benefit from the protection of the moral and material interests 
resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which 
he is the author."

(similar to language in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

The Access to Knowledge process is probably the best place to ensure 
that exceptions and limitations are added on to the international 


This bothers me, unlike the American constitution which states a goal and
instructs the govenment to try to achieve that goal. From this come laws
that try to achieve that goal by allowing certain types of ideas to be
turned into "property" but if these laws ever became a hindrance to
achieving the goal they could be found to be unconstitutional.

The European constitution takes IP protection as an axiom with no
explanation and no provision for exceptions or even time limits (not that
I've read the whole thing but a grep for "intellectual" turns up just this

This could conceivably mean that a law which removes IP protection could be
found unconstitutional, even one that limits the duration of copyright. 

Am I missing something or is this the disaster it seems to be?


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