[pp.int.general] Lissabon Treaty: very bad news

Reinier Bakels r.bakels at planet.nl
Wed Apr 23 23:52:28 CEST 2008

>> Refer to article 17, paragraph 2 of that charter.  Here it is in full:
>> "2. Intellectual property shall be protected."

> I do agree: this is fully rejectable.

This provision was taken from the first protocol of the European Convention of Human Rights (art. 1), but the text has been changed in a confusing and dangerous way. Note that the protection of property in art. 14 of the German constitution (GG) is also supposed to encompass intellectual property. The Lisbon treaty may be controversial, the ECHR and the GG are not.

For a proper understnding (and political response) a sharp distinction must be made:

1. Property rights ONCE LEGALLY ASSIGNED should not be taken away from people by the government without a careful procedure and only with a careful disappropriation procedure. This is the true human right. By now, it is fairly obvious, but it has not always been. In Europe it is the result of the French Revolution. In China, its was established only a few years ago. BTW this aspect of property also helps authors to refrain from commercial exploitation (copyleft!). If a government decides by default assumption that all authors want to be financially compensated, e.g. by a levy, they actually violate this human right! 

2. The risk however is that one will interpret this provision in the sense that any information is entitled an exclusive right ( "intellectual property right"). This is what PP should oppose against. Traditionally lawyers agree that freedom of information is the rule, and exclusive rights are the exception, if and when established explicitly by law: copyright, patents, trademark law, etc. There is a tendency however to accept an alleged need for unwritten intellectual property rights, such as know how, e.g. because it is an important asset for firms.
But an interpretation of the Lisbon treaty in this sense is wrong, if not outright dishonest.

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