The Legal Protection of Databases

The Legal Protection of Databases

A Comparative Analysis

Estelle Derclaye

The protection of the investment made in collecting, verifying or presenting database contents is still not harmonised internationally. Some laws over-protect database contents, whilst others under-protect them. This book examines and compares several methods available for the protection of investment in database creation – namely, intellectual property, unfair competition, contract and technological protection measures – in order to find an adequate type and level of protection. To this effect, the author uses criteria based on a combination of the economics of information goods, the human rights to intellectual property and to information, and the public interest, proposing a model that can be adopted at international and national levels.

Introduction and Methodology

Estelle Derclaye

Subjects: law - academic, information and media law, intellectual property law

Extract

Definition of the problem Databases are an indispensable tool in today’s knowledge-based economy. Databases are not only a vast repository of invaluable knowledge but allow useful, fast and easy access to information. The private sector active, inter alia, in the fields of science, law, finance, travel and the public sector, including governments and the wider academic community, are increasingly dependent on databases to conduct business or research. Individuals also rely heavily on databases in their daily life, for instance to organize their travel, go to an event or simply watch television. Not so long ago, most databases originated with governments. With the diminution of the role of the state and correlative increased privatization in many industrialized countries, the trend shifted and there are now many more databases made by the private sector. When databases were mainly made by government, the issue of their protection was not as acute. As the state created them with taxpayers’ money, it did not take any financial risk and did not have to recoup its investment. Things are different for private entrepreneurs. Making a database generally requires considerable resources, in time, capital and human labour to gather the materials, check their accuracy and present them in a userfriendly format. Obviously database makers are not ready to make this effort if they cannot recoup their investment. Thus, in order to take the business decision to invest in making a database and commercialize it, they need to protect themselves against free-riding. Traditionally, databases have been protected by...