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The EC Database Directive


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1st May 2009

Individual items of information do not attract property rights, however, compilations of data may be protected by intellectual property rights (IPR).

Pre-EC Database Directive

Before the implementation of the EC Database Directive (96/9/EC), compilations of data could only be protected in the UK by copyright under the Copyright Design and Patents Act (CDPA) as literary works, provided that they were recorded in some medium and were "original", assuming that the work had been created by a qualifying person (which will usually be the case) (Part I, CDPA).

The requirement of originality was not set at a high threshold: sufficient skill, judgment or labour must be expended by the author of the compilation to make it his own work. For example, a compilation of data concerning the entrants in a greyhound race was held to attract copyright protection (BAGS v Wilf Gilbert [1994] FSR 723).

The EC Database Directive

In order to harmonise EU laws, the Database Directive was passed in 1996 and was implemented in the UK by the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (SI 1997/3032) (Database Regulations). The Database Regulations, which came into effect on 1 January 1998, amended the copyright provisions under the CDPA as they applied to databases, and introduced a new sui generis database right, effectively creating the possibility of two separate IPRs in a database: copyright and database right.

The future

The European Commission has published a report which identifies serious flaws in the provisions of the Database Directive and concludes that it has failed in its objective of encouraging the creation of more databases within the EU. The report proposed various ways to remedy the situation (including getting rid of the database right altogether) but for the time being, the Commission intends only to consult interested parties on the solutions suggested in the report.

Inam Ali is a Solicitor at Lawdit, specialising in Commercial and Intellectual Property Law, and can be contacted via email:

About the Author

Lawdit Solicitors offer services and advice for litigation, commercial contracts, Intellectual Property and IT legal agreements. We are experts in commercial law with a heavy emphasis on Intellectual Property, Internet and e-commerce law. Lawdit is a member of the International Trademark Association, the Solicitors' Association of Higher Court Advocates and we are the appointed Solicitors to the largest webdesign association in the world, the United Kingdom Website Designers Association.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2009-05-19 15:50:16 in Legal Articles

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