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.

Conclusion and Outlook

Estelle Derclaye

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


This book has attempted to identify whether four types of laws (intellectual property, unfair competition, contract, TPMs and anti-circumvention provisions), in isolation and in cumulation, over- or under-protect databases or protects them adequately. The situation in Europe (Part I) was analysed before that of the United States (Part II). This comparison brought to light which type of protection is best suited to protect investment in database creation (Part III). The aims of this final conclusion are first to highlight the results of Parts I, II and III and to put the question of database protection in the broader international context. A first important finding is that, to answer whether four types of laws (intellectual property, unfair competition contrasts and/or TPMs and anti-circumvention provisions) over- or under-protect databases, and consequently to determine the adequate scope of database protection, it was necessary to find an appropriate criterion. Chapter 1 concluded that the most precise and fairest criterion so far available is a combination of the economic analysis of information goods, the human rights to the respect of one’s property and to information, and the public interest because it can apply to the four different protections envisaged in this book in combination and in isolation. A second important finding revealed in Chapter 1 is that a difference must be drawn between different databases. Sole source databases confer monopoly power while multiple source databases do not. This has already brought to light that a ‘one-size-fits-all’ database protection model was probably not indicated. Chapter 1...

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