Copyright in databases and database right
Copyright in databases and database right

The following IP guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Copyright in databases and database right
  • Copyright in databases
  • Copyright in compilations
  • Database right
  • Qualification—copyright
  • Qualification—database right
  • Term—database right
  • Databases created before 1 January 1998

Databases, especially electronic databases, have for some time now made up an important sector of the economy. They are a vital tool in the development of an information market in the European Community.

Key legislation relevant to the copyright in databases and database rights are:

  1. the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (CDPA 1988)

  2. Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases (Database Directive)

  3. the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (CRD 1997), SI 1997/3032

A database can be protected in different ways:

  1. copyright can protect literary and artistic works including tables and compilations that form part of a database (literary copyright for tables and compilations was removed for databases by CDPA 1988, s 3(1)(a)), if they are original works

  1. copyright can protect the structure of a database under CDPA 1988, ss 3–3A which gives effect to Article 3 of the Database Directive, if it is an original literary work. The test of originality is that there must be effort spent on the selection and arrangement of the data and sufficient judgment and skill exercised in the process to make the work the author's own intellectual creation

  1. the unique (sui generis) database right pursuant to CRD 1997, SI 1997/3032 which gives effect to Article 7 of the Database Directive can protect the data in the database if the database is the result