Copyright and Constitutional Aspects of Digital Language Resources: The Estonian Approach

Author:Aleksei Kelli - Arvi Tavast - Heiki Pisuke
Position:Docent of Intellectual Property Law, University of Tartu - Ph.D. Head of Language Technology Institute of the Estonian Language - Head of Unit, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union, Brussels Professor of Intellectual Property Law, University of Tartu
Pages:40-48
 
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40 JURIDICA INTERNATIONAL XIX/2012
Aleksei Kelli Arvi Tavast Heiki Pisuke*1
Docent Ph.D. Head of Unit, General Secretariat
of Intellectual Property Law Head of Language Technology of the Council of the
University of Tartu Institute of the European Union, Brussels
Estonian Language Professor of Intellectual Property Law
University of Tartu
Copyright and Constitutional
Aspects of Digital
Language Resources:
The Estonian Approach*2
1. Introduction
Language is the fundamental basis of national identity, self-determination, and culture. Linguistic diversity
is a major guarantee of the cultural diversity of the world. Therefore, it is hard to overestimate the impor-
tance of the preservation and development of national languages. Language is also a tool of communication
between people both within a state and internationally. Language constitutes an interdisciplinary domain
of which legal issues form an important part, and language is a precondition for formulation and enjoyment
of fundamental rights.
This approach has been recognised at the highest regulatory level in Estonia. Namely, the preamble of
the Constitution of the Republic of Estonia*3 provides that: ‘[w]ith unwavering faith and a steadfast will to
strengthen and develop the state [...] which shall guarantee the preservation of the Estonian nation, lan-
guage and culture through the ages’. According to legal commentators, ‘the inclusion of the protection of the
Estonian language as a basic principle in the preamble of the Constitution implies its recognition as the core
value of the nation. It is impossible to separate the Estonian culture from language’.*4
The Estonian Constitution establishes an additional principle related to language. Pursuant to § 6 of the
Constitution, ‘[t]he of cial language of Estonia is Estonian’.*5 It is explained that ‘[e]very society needs to
1 The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not re ect the of cial opinion of the Council of the Euro-
pean Union.
2 This publication has been supported by the European Social Foundation through the Research and Innovation Policy Moni-
toring Programme.
3 Eesti Vabariigi põhiseadus (as entering into force on 3.7.1992). – RT 1992, 26, 349; RT I, 27.4.2011, 1 (in Estonian). English
translation available via http://www.legaltext.ee/ (most recently accessed on 11.3.2012).
4 R. Narits, H. Schneider. Preambul (Preamble). – Eesti Vabariigi põhiseadus. Kommenteeritud väljaanne. Teine, täiendatud
väljaanne (Constitution of the Republic of Estonia, Commented Edition, Second Edition), edited by a panel led by E.-J. Truu-
väli. Tallinn: Juura, Õigusteabe AS 2008, p. 35 (in Estonian).
5 This Constitutional provision is implemented by the Language Act, which is intended to ‘develop, preserve and protect the
Estonian language and ensure the use of the Estonian language as the main language for communication in all spheres of

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