The Royal Society of Arts launches Adelphi Charter

December 2005

All areas

The UK-based Royal Society for Arts (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts Manufacture, and Commerce – the RSA) has released their Adelphi Charter which outlines how the international community could and should change domestic and international intellectual property laws to better serve the public interest.  In particular, the Adelphi Charter calls for a better balance between rights protection and the public domain, since the RSA suggests that the current schemes overly favour the protection of rights.  The Charter lays out a “public interest” test that governments should have to meet before creating or extending intellectual property rights.  The proposed test includes a presumption against creating new areas of intellectual property protection, extending existing privileges or extending the duration of rights, unless those seeking the change can establish though rigorous analysis and proof that the change will promote basic rights and economic well-being.  The Charter also calls for extensive public consultation regarding changes to intellectual property laws.  The charter recognises that creative effort should be rewarded but at the same time states that the laws breadth, scope and term over the last 30 years has resulted in a modern intellectual property regime which is radically out of line with modern social, economic and technological trends. The Charters says that this threatens the chain of creativity on which we and future generations depend. Amongst other things the Charter calls for laws to serve and not overturn basic human needs such as health, education, employment and cultural life, that the public interest requires a balance between public domain and private rights, that the monopolistic nature of intellectual property rights need to be balanced against the economic vitality of free competition, intellectual property protection should not extend to abstract ideas, facts or data, that patents should not be extended to mathematical models, scientific theories, computer codes, methods of medical treatment or methods of teaching, copyrights and patents should be limited in time and not extend beyond what is proportionate and necessary and that intellectual property laws should take account of developing countries social and economic needs.

Summary taken from an article by James Kosa in e-Tips Vol 4 No 9 (a publication of Deeth Williams Wall LLC). e-Tips is edited by Richard Potter QC.

See the article by Bill Thomspon at


The Adelphi Charter can be seen at

See also articles on CREATIVE COMMONS: and see and see Eldred v Ashcroft where lead counsel was Lawrence Lessig who has developed the Creative Commons concept. See Wikidedia at

See Law Updates April 2005 IFPI gain extra time to lobby

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