Brussels, 12 December 2005
The European Commission has published an evaluation of the protection EU law gives to databases. EU law protects databases by copyright if they are sufficiently creative. Other databases, especially those that are compilations of information or commonplace data, such as telephone directories, music charts or football match listings, may benefit from a new form of protection introduced by the 1996 Database Directive. This protection is known as the 'sui generis' database right, i.e. a specific property right for databases that is unrelated to other forms of protection such as copyright. The evaluation focuses on whether the introduction of this right led to an increase in the European database industry's rate of growth and in database production. It also looks at whether the scope of the right targets those areas where Europe needs to encourage innovation. Stakeholders are invited to comment on the evaluation by 12 March 2006.
Internal Market and Services Commissioner Charlie McCreevy said: "Databases are an important part of Europe's economy in the information age. I want to make sure that EU rules encourage the development of this sector. This evaluation helps ensure that we are on the right track. I now call on the industry and other stakeholders to comment and tell us more about how EU database rules affect them."
The evaluation was conducted on the basis of two information sources: first, an online survey addressed to the European database industry carried out by the Commission in August and September 2005; and second, the Gale Directory of Databases (“the GDD”), which is the largest existing database directory and contains statistics indicating the growth of the global database industry since the 1970s. Individual views expressed outside the stakeholder survey were also taken into account.
On the basis of the information available, the evaluation finds that the economic impact of the “sui generis” right on database production is unproven. However, the European publishing industry, consulted in the online survey, argued that “sui generis” protection is crucial to the continued success of their activities. In addition, most respondents to the online survey believe that the "sui generis" right has brought about legal certainty, reduced the costs associated with the protection of databases, created more business opportunities and facilitated the marketing of databases.
Therefore, further evidence on the usefulness of "sui generis" protection
needs to be gathered. The staff working paper invites stakeholders to submit
their views and comments and to provide further evidence on the economic impact
of "sui generis" protection.