Friday, March 28, 2008

Dodgy bits of the Lisbon treaty: intellectual property

I've set aside some time today to look at the treaty and I'll record the "highlights" as blog postings.

All posts on Lisbon

Before addressing the dodgy bits, I should say that there are some presumably non-dodgy bits and even some that are important. The most cited one being voting reform. I'm prepared to believe that the voting system doesn't work well anymore with all those extra countries. I also think that maintaining our influence in the EU is one area in which I'd trust Fianna Fail to get a good bargain for Ireland.

If the treaty was just the necessary reforms I don't think I'd have a problem with it. It's the extra stuff that is riding along that seems to benefit certain lobbies, eurocrats and superstatists that makes me want to vote no. I see no reason why I shouldn't make them rip that all out and try again with just the necessary reforms.

Anyway, here's the first bit that seems to be for the benefit of a lobby group

It looks like we're getting intellectual property for it's own sake. Compare this with the US, for example, where they can grant intellectual property rights only in ways that promote progress. Even this is still subject to abuse but challenges to IP laws have been taken and won based on these limitations. Under the Lisbon treaty if the EU thinks that it'd be a great idea for patents and copyrights to last forever and to cover far more than they do today, that seems to be within their power under this treaty.

Section 84:

84) The following new Article 97a shall be inserted as the final article of Title VI:


In the context of the establishment and functioning of the internal market, the European Parliament and the Council, acting in accordance with the ordinary legislative procedure, shall establish measures for the creation of European intellectual property rights to provide uniform protection of intellectual property rights throughout the Union and for the setting up of centralised Union-wide authorisation, coordination and supervision arrangements.

The Council, acting in accordance with a special legislative procedure, shall by means of regulations establish language arrangements for the European intellectual property rights. The Council shall act unanimously after consulting the European Parliament.".

Compare with the US constitution

Clause 8. The Congress shall have Power To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

It also adds some other similar things into other sections on Common Commercial Policy. This gives the EU the right to negotiate and enter into international treaties on IP and other things. Given that these tend to be written by industry and their lobbyists they are far more oriented towards the comercialisation and extension of IP rather than the other side of the "copyright bargain".

As far I can tell, none of the other treaties mentioned IP at all.

This would presumably pave the way for further bullshit like Tesco can't sell Levi's jeans imported from non_EU countries without the brand owner's consent.

I have no problem with centralising control of IP with the EU, I can see harmonisation and streamlining benefits but your intellectual property is my intellectual restriction and so there must be limits and justifications for it.

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