Copyright And Rights In Databases

Profession:Kaltons Solicitors

Pursuant to the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997, which came in force on January 1st 1998, items added on to databases - whether electronic or not - are protected by copyright as "works"' in their own right. So, for example, even if single citations of facts do not enjoy copyright protection, they collectively as a compilation of many facts may enjoy protection as literary works, databases or compilations. Although prior to 1998 it was possible to protect databases as compilations (e.g. telephone directories) - i.e. into which sufficient effort, judgement and taste has been applied - it was not until the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) was amended in 1998 that specific provision was made for the protection of databases by copyright.

Databases now enjoy two kinds of protection:

if they demonstrate the requisite degree of originality or creativity, they are now conferred full copyright protection as literary works;

if they do not meet the originality or creativity requirement, they are protected under 'database right'.

In other words, a database is protected as a full literary work only if the selection or arrangement of the contents represents the author's own intellectual creation. Databases which fall short of this, are only protected by the new database right.

What Is A Database?

In order to rank as a database worthy of 'database right' protection, a database must be a collection of works, data or other material which:

are arranged in a systematic or methodical manner; and

are individually accessible by electronic or other means, and

result from a substantial investment in collecting, verifying or presenting the contents.

However, in order to be protected as a full literary work, and therefore enjoy copyright protection, the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database must be such that there is an "intellectual creation". If there is nothing intellectual or creative, the data collection will get a special "database right" instead. For examples, see "Types of Databases" below.

Full Copyright Protection

If a database owner qualifies for full copyright protection by virtue of the selection or arrangement therein being the author's own intellectual creation, he has the following rights:

only he can temporarily or permanently reproduce by any means or in any form in whole or in part the database;

only he can translate, adapt, rearrange or make any other alteration to it;

only he can communicate...

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