Sui Generis database right: ripe for review?

C. Colston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

In a digital era unoriginal collections of data, particularly those in electronic form, have new significance and value. Digital technology also renders such collections of information uniquely vulnerable to copying. The Directive on the legal protection of databases created a new sui generis right for databases in which there has been (qualitatively or quantitatively) substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents against unauthorised extraction or re-use of the whole or a substantial part. However, over-protection of such databases may remove essential information from the public domain, particularly where it constitutes an exclusive source. Under protection may be equally damaging, if the incentive to collate information is undermined by free-riding competition. It is as necessary, therefore, to strike as careful a balance of protection for unoriginal databases as for other intellectual property rights. The case of British Horseracing Board Limited v William Hill Organisation (2001) confirms infinitely extendable protection for dynamic databases, and their contents. The information at issue lay within the public domain, however the database maker constituted its only effective source. Fears of inhibiting information flow have contributed to debate over database protection in the United States, where copyright and unfair competition provide a lesser degree of support to database makers. Consequently, whether the new right encourages investment in creating databases as well as allowing access to database-stored information, is questionable. The question is timely for the Directive is due for review. At the same time both WIPO and the US are debating new provisions, and the Court of Appeal has referred questions of interpretation of the Directive to the European Court of Justice. It is time to reconsider, in particular, the draft Directive's proposed compulsory licences for the sui generis right. Alternatively, the exceptions to infringement could be better adapted to allow for private uses of information, or a better solution might lie in a form of unfair competition law restricted to parasitic conduct and unjust enrichment, without protection for the underlying information content.
LanguageEnglish
JournalJournal of Information, Law and Technology
Volume2001
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Nov 2001

Fingerprint

parenting style
The New Right
European Court of Justice
legal protection
information content
information flow
intellectual property
right of ownership
license
appeal
incentive
electronics
anxiety
interpretation
Law
Values
time

Keywords

  • databases
  • Sui Generis right
  • intellectual property
  • copyright
  • unfair competition compulsory licence

Cite this

@article{151242c0830340b2ada5d645d38f5c59,
title = "Sui Generis database right: ripe for review?",
abstract = "In a digital era unoriginal collections of data, particularly those in electronic form, have new significance and value. Digital technology also renders such collections of information uniquely vulnerable to copying. The Directive on the legal protection of databases created a new sui generis right for databases in which there has been (qualitatively or quantitatively) substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents against unauthorised extraction or re-use of the whole or a substantial part. However, over-protection of such databases may remove essential information from the public domain, particularly where it constitutes an exclusive source. Under protection may be equally damaging, if the incentive to collate information is undermined by free-riding competition. It is as necessary, therefore, to strike as careful a balance of protection for unoriginal databases as for other intellectual property rights. The case of British Horseracing Board Limited v William Hill Organisation (2001) confirms infinitely extendable protection for dynamic databases, and their contents. The information at issue lay within the public domain, however the database maker constituted its only effective source. Fears of inhibiting information flow have contributed to debate over database protection in the United States, where copyright and unfair competition provide a lesser degree of support to database makers. Consequently, whether the new right encourages investment in creating databases as well as allowing access to database-stored information, is questionable. The question is timely for the Directive is due for review. At the same time both WIPO and the US are debating new provisions, and the Court of Appeal has referred questions of interpretation of the Directive to the European Court of Justice. It is time to reconsider, in particular, the draft Directive's proposed compulsory licences for the sui generis right. Alternatively, the exceptions to infringement could be better adapted to allow for private uses of information, or a better solution might lie in a form of unfair competition law restricted to parasitic conduct and unjust enrichment, without protection for the underlying information content.",
keywords = "databases, Sui Generis right, intellectual property, copyright, unfair competition compulsory licence",
author = "C. Colston",
year = "2001",
month = "11",
day = "7",
language = "English",
volume = "2001",
journal = "European Journal of Law and Technology",
issn = "2042-115X",
number = "3",

}

Sui Generis database right: ripe for review? / Colston, C.

In: Journal of Information, Law and Technology, Vol. 2001, No. 3, 07.11.2001.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Sui Generis database right: ripe for review?

AU - Colston, C.

PY - 2001/11/7

Y1 - 2001/11/7

N2 - In a digital era unoriginal collections of data, particularly those in electronic form, have new significance and value. Digital technology also renders such collections of information uniquely vulnerable to copying. The Directive on the legal protection of databases created a new sui generis right for databases in which there has been (qualitatively or quantitatively) substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents against unauthorised extraction or re-use of the whole or a substantial part. However, over-protection of such databases may remove essential information from the public domain, particularly where it constitutes an exclusive source. Under protection may be equally damaging, if the incentive to collate information is undermined by free-riding competition. It is as necessary, therefore, to strike as careful a balance of protection for unoriginal databases as for other intellectual property rights. The case of British Horseracing Board Limited v William Hill Organisation (2001) confirms infinitely extendable protection for dynamic databases, and their contents. The information at issue lay within the public domain, however the database maker constituted its only effective source. Fears of inhibiting information flow have contributed to debate over database protection in the United States, where copyright and unfair competition provide a lesser degree of support to database makers. Consequently, whether the new right encourages investment in creating databases as well as allowing access to database-stored information, is questionable. The question is timely for the Directive is due for review. At the same time both WIPO and the US are debating new provisions, and the Court of Appeal has referred questions of interpretation of the Directive to the European Court of Justice. It is time to reconsider, in particular, the draft Directive's proposed compulsory licences for the sui generis right. Alternatively, the exceptions to infringement could be better adapted to allow for private uses of information, or a better solution might lie in a form of unfair competition law restricted to parasitic conduct and unjust enrichment, without protection for the underlying information content.

AB - In a digital era unoriginal collections of data, particularly those in electronic form, have new significance and value. Digital technology also renders such collections of information uniquely vulnerable to copying. The Directive on the legal protection of databases created a new sui generis right for databases in which there has been (qualitatively or quantitatively) substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents against unauthorised extraction or re-use of the whole or a substantial part. However, over-protection of such databases may remove essential information from the public domain, particularly where it constitutes an exclusive source. Under protection may be equally damaging, if the incentive to collate information is undermined by free-riding competition. It is as necessary, therefore, to strike as careful a balance of protection for unoriginal databases as for other intellectual property rights. The case of British Horseracing Board Limited v William Hill Organisation (2001) confirms infinitely extendable protection for dynamic databases, and their contents. The information at issue lay within the public domain, however the database maker constituted its only effective source. Fears of inhibiting information flow have contributed to debate over database protection in the United States, where copyright and unfair competition provide a lesser degree of support to database makers. Consequently, whether the new right encourages investment in creating databases as well as allowing access to database-stored information, is questionable. The question is timely for the Directive is due for review. At the same time both WIPO and the US are debating new provisions, and the Court of Appeal has referred questions of interpretation of the Directive to the European Court of Justice. It is time to reconsider, in particular, the draft Directive's proposed compulsory licences for the sui generis right. Alternatively, the exceptions to infringement could be better adapted to allow for private uses of information, or a better solution might lie in a form of unfair competition law restricted to parasitic conduct and unjust enrichment, without protection for the underlying information content.

KW - databases

KW - Sui Generis right

KW - intellectual property

KW - copyright

KW - unfair competition compulsory licence

UR - http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/law/elj/jilt/2001_3/colston/

M3 - Article

VL - 2001

JO - European Journal of Law and Technology

T2 - European Journal of Law and Technology

JF - European Journal of Law and Technology

SN - 2042-115X

IS - 3

ER -