Database Protection—The European Way


In 1996, the European Union (EU) finally adopted the EU Database Directive (Directive). The Directive created a two-tier protection scheme for electronic and non-electronic databases. Member states are required to protect databases by copyright as intellectual creations, or to provide a novel sui generis right to prevent unauthorized extraction or re-utilization of the contents of a database. The difference between the two is that copyright infringement implies copying the structure, while the sui generis right infringement implies copying the contents themselves, irrespective of their copyrightability. It has yet to be seen, when considering the way in which member states have implemented the Directive and the way in which national courts apply domestic law, how the Directive has succeeded in harmonizing European Commission (EC) law with regard to the protection of databases.


Copyright, Information storage & retrieval systems, Data security, Database administration, Patents, Intellectual property, European Union



F.W. Grosheide (Utrecht University)



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