The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the application and impact of the Database Directive on legal protection of databases. The Directive offers copyright protection for original databases and creates a new right called the sui generis right to protect databases on which major investments have been made. In the light of this consultation Communia has published its view on the Database Directive in its 12th policy paper. You can read the entire policy paper here.
The Directive aimed to remove existing differences in the legal protection of databases by harmonising the rules that applied to copyright protection. In addition it wanted to safeguard interests of businesses and users alike, namely the investment of database makers, and ensure that the legitimate interests of users of information contained in databases were secured.
Even though the Directive has successfully partially harmonised the legal protection of databases with regard to copyright, there is no clear evidence that the sui generis right has improved the interests of businesses and users alike nor is there convincing evidence that the sui generis right has improved EU competitiveness by increasing the production of databases. The 2005 evaluation conducted by the European Commission showed that there are no clear indications that the sui generis right helped to create a stronger EU database market.
In our opinion the European Commission should:
- repeal the sui generis database right;
- harmonize the limitations and exceptions provided in the Database Directive with the Infosoc Directive and make them mandatory;
- if it is not possible to fully revoke the sui generis right, the Commission should amend the Database Directive to introduce a system whereby producers of databases must register to receive protection under the sui generis right;
- set a maximum term so that there cannot be perpetual extensions of database protection.