Are specific intellectual property rights in respect of data/databases recognised?


United States Small Flag United States

In the United States, there is no sui generis database protection available that is comparable to that under European law which would provide independent protection for databases. That being said, copyright protection for databases is available as a compilation. However, the compilation requires originality with respect to the structure, sequence and organization of the database, so databases such as a telephone directory are not protectable. Moreover, copyright protection does not protect against the extraction and use of underlying factual data within the database.

Additionally, the statutory protections of the DMCA are available, so technological restrictions on database access are permissible and will be enforced. Likewise, the CFAA is available which proscribes hacking into databases.

Malta Small Flag Malta

Databases are one of the works listed in the CA, which may be eligible for copyright protection as a whole, provided that, by reason of the selection or arrangement of its contents, it establishes the author’s intellectual creation.

Copyright protection grants the right holder an exclusive right to authorise or prohibit the use in Malta, either in its original form or in any form recognisably derived from the original of, inter alia, the reproduction, the distribution, the rental and lending, the translation (which includes different computer languages), the adaptation and the broadcasting or performance of the work.

Irrespective of whether a database qualifies for copyright protection, a sui generis database right is also available where the maker of a database can show that there has been substantial investment in the formation and organisation of the contents of the database. It is of note that both the sui generis right and copyright protection do not cover the contents of the database in question. If however certain legal requirements are satisfied, the contents may be eligible for copyright protection in their own right as a literary work, for example.

Norway Small Flag Norway

Norwegian law recognises specific intellectual property rights in data/databases, which is protected under the Copyright Act Section 43 first paragraph. The aforementioned paragraph and Section 39 prescribes that anyone who produces a database or similar work that aggregates a large amount of information, or which results from a substantial investment, shall have the exclusive right to use all or substantial parts of the content of the database by producing copies of it, making it accessible to the general public or transfer such rights to another entity.

Database rights are also excluded from the right to produce copies of published copyrightable work for private and non-commercial use or to use such work for commercial educational purposes, cf. the Act Sections 12 first and second paragraph letter c and 21 first and third paragraph.

Turkey Small Flag Turkey

Yes, databases are categorized as compilation works under IP Law w. no 5846 and the financial and moral rights of the artist (creator of the work by compiling data based on a system) are protected as copyrights.

The protection cannot be extended to the data within the database, meaning that the protection is limited to the database itself, and the contents are not protected.

China Small Flag China

According to the General Rules of Civil Law, data may be protected in accordance with special laws or regulations. However, under the current legal framework, data is only protected by the Anti-unfair Competition Law as trade secret if it is a qualified subject matter, where the data 1) possesses secrecy, 2) derives economic value, and 3) has utility and is kept secret by its owners through taking certain measures. The database, as a whole, may be protected by copyright as a compilation if the selection or arrangement of the content elements is with originality.

Mexico Small Flag Mexico

Yes, there are two types of levels for the protection of databases: (i) Databases or other machine-readable materials, which for reasons of selection and arrangement of their content constitute intellectual creations, shall be protected as compilations. Such protection will not extend to the data and materials themselves (compilations are protected as any other copyrightable material/work); and (ii) Non-original databases are, however, protected in their exclusive use by the developer, for a period of 5 years.

United Kingdom Small Flag United Kingdom

As a general principle, there are no intellectual property rights ("IPRs") in data itself, although databases may be protected by IPRs. The CDPA gives copyright protection to the author of a database for the period of 70 years from the calendar year in which the author died (section 12(2)). Moral rights, which grant rights such as the right to be identified as the author of the database (sections 77-79) will be granted to the author, unless the database was created in the course of an employee's employment (sections 79(3) and 82(1)).

The Copyright and Rights in Database Regulations 1997 give the author a database right for 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the making of the database was completed, or if a substantial change is made to the contents of a database so the database can be considered to be a "substantial new investment", 15 years from the end of the calendar year in which the substantial change was made (Regulation 17).

A patent may be available under the Patents Act 1977 if the database can be shown to achieve a technical effect that is novel and inventive (section 1). Databases used to implement new business methods are not, however, patentable (section 1(2)(c)).

Romania Small Flag Romania

Yes. According to Law no. 8/1996 on copyright and related rights (the “Copyright Law”) a sui generis right for the protection of databases is provided for 15 years. The data base owner has the exclusive right to authorize or forbid the extraction or reuse of the whole or substantial part of the database. This sui generis right applies irrespective of the fact that the database or its content are protected under copyright or any other right.

Italy Small Flag Italy

Databases are protected by the Copyright Law. Section 2 of the Copyright Law defines a database as “a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means”. The protection granted through the Copyright Law concerns the database and not the contents included in the database, and is without prejudice to any rights subsisting in those contents themselves. If the structure of the database is original, because the selection or arrangement of their contents has been made according to original criteria, the author of the database is granted both the moral rights and the rights to economically exploit the database. Such rights last 70 years after the death of the author or 70 years after the database is lawfully made available to the public. The rights to economically exploit the database can be assigned or transferred by the author.

If the database is created by an employee, in the context of the performance of its tasks or on the basis of instructions provided by the employer, the right to economically exploit the database belongs to the employer.

If the database does not have an original structure and cannot be considered the author’s own intellectual creation, the author of the database does not own the copyright under the Copyright Law. However, in this case, the Copyright Law (Section 102-bis) grants a sui generis right to the “maker” of the database, i.e. the person that has made a substantial investment in either the obtaining, verification or presentation of the contents, using, for this purpose, financial means, time or work. In such event, the maker has the right to prevent extraction and/or re-utilization of the whole or of a substantial part of the contents of that database. The right of the “maker” lasts 15 years after the first day of the calendar year (1st January) following the date on which the database has been made available to the public for the first time.

The Netherlands Small Flag The Netherlands

Databases are protected under the Dutch database act 1999. A database is defined as a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means. A database is eligible for protection if the database was the result of a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database. The creator of the database has the exclusive right to retrieve and reproduce a substantial part of the database which cannot be circumvented by repeatedly and systematically retrieving or reproducing parts of the database by third parties.

The actual data can be eligible for copyright protection if the data meets the requirements for copyright protection, meaning that the data has its own, original character and bears the personal stamp of the maker. The data must be the result of creative human labour and thus of creative choices. In absence of eligibility for copyright protection, protection of data can be sought through the use non-disclosure agreements.

Brazil Small Flag Brazil

Generally, the information added to a database is not subject to IP protection. Nevertheless, the form of organization or arrangement of such information (i.e. the database structure) may be protected as a copyright work.

Indonesia Small Flag Indonesia

No specific intellectual property rights exist under Indonesian law in respect of data/databases.

India Small Flag India

The Copyright Act, 1957 defines a ‘literary work’ to include a computer database, which means that a computer database is offered copyright protection under Indian law. In addition to civil and criminal remedies specified under the said Act for infringement of copyright, the said Act provides specific protection to infringement of rights contained in computer programmes and stipulates imprisonment ranging between 7 days to 3 years and monetary penalties ranging between INR 50,000 (approximately US$ 777) to INR 200,000 (approximately US$ 3106) for such infringement. The IT Act provides for civil and criminal remedies against any person who, without due authorisation from the owner of a computer or computer system, downloads copies or extracts any data stored in such computer or computer system. While the IT Act does not create any intellectual property rights in computer data or databases, the owner of such data or databases has an additional remedy in the event of unauthorised access or copying of data.

Israel Small Flag Israel

The Copyrights Law recognises, in certain circumstances, copyrights in a compilation of data (e.g., a database). Such recognition requires the database to include an original arrangement of the works or the data contained in it. In several rulings, the Israeli Supreme Court narrowed the protection granted to databases, reinforcing the originality and unique arrangement of the works requirement. E.g., the telephone company`s phone database will not be protected, while an encyclopaedia will be granted protection. Such protection will not cover the data contained in the database. In addition, databases may also be protected as a "commercial secret" under the Commercial Torts Law of 1999, if the content of the database is considered confidential and is designated for a specific group of people.

Singapore Small Flag Singapore

Data or database alone is not copyrightable. However, copyright may subsist in the compilation of the data. In the recent Court of Appeal decision of the Global Yellow Pages Ltd v Promedia Directories Pte Ltd and another matter [2017] SGCA 28, the court ruled that for a compilation of data to be afforded with copyright protection such compilation must contain some element of creativity and have been created by an identifiable human author.

The data may be protected as a trade secret provided it remains as confidential information.

France Small Flag France

Pursuant to EU directive 96/9/EC of 11 March 1996, a database may be subject to both copyright, which may benefit its author in respect of his original selection or arrangement of the contents of the database, and to a specific, sui generis right that will inure to its ‘producer’ for a period of 15 years, irrespective of whether the database is in itself original.

Under the French Intellectual Property Code (IPC), the ‘producer’ of a database is defined as the person who initiated the investments in the database and assumed the associated risks, when the investment in the obtaining, verification or presentation of the contents is substantial from a financial, material or human standpoint. Thanks to this sui generis database right, the effort made in developing a database that is a compilation of information or commonplace data, such as a telephone directory or football match listing, may still be protected despite its lack of originality. This protection allows the producer to prohibit extraction or re-utilization of the whole contents or of a substantial part thereof.

Nevertheless, under the above rules only the database is protected, not data per se: data is considered as information and, out of principle, information is due to circulate freely (unless made confidential by an exclusive information holder).

Germany Small Flag Germany

In respect of databases German copyright law recognises specific intellectual property rights. There are two kinds of databases. One is an autonomous work and protected by copyright because it is considered a personal intellectual creation (“persönliche geistige Schöpfung”) in accordance with section 4 UrhG. For such databases, a full copyright protection similar to software applies. The other type of database is protected because of the financial investment which was required for creating it. The latter is regulated in sections 87a to 87e UrhG which are based on the EU Database Directive (95/46/EG). These sections of the law rule that only the producer of the database is authorised to reproduce, distribute and publicly report the database as a whole or a part of essential type and extent. The European Court of Justice has decided that the essential part of a database refers to the extracted or reused volume of the database (judgment in the case C-203/02). An essential part is therefore considered to be 10 percent or more. Excluded from protection, however, are reproductions for private use, for own scientific use and for illustrative use in education pursuant to section 87c UrhG.

Switzerland Small Flag Switzerland

Data/databases may be protected under COPA as collective works to the extent they qualify as original creations with individual character with respect to their selection and arrangement. Unlike EU law, Swiss law does not provide for general protection of databases by way of a right of its own (sui generis right) in favour of the creator. If databases do not reach the threshold of copyright protection as collective works, the economic effort to compile such database is generally not protected in Switzerland. In contrast, the UCA protects marketable work results against technical reproduction performed without commensurate effort by the reproducing party (see Question 6).

Ecuador Small Flag Ecuador

The Organic Knowledge Social Economy Code treats databases of any kind as works that are subject to protection. The information and the content of the database product of investigations financed with public funds are of open access. Compilations of data and of other materials, in any form, that because of the novelty of the selection or the layout of its contents constitute intellectual creations, are protected as such. Nonetheless, the protection of a database does not include the protection of the data or information compiled. The protection awarded to databases does not apply to software that is used in the production or in the operation of the databases.

Moreover, said law determines that personal and non-personal data that forms part of the databases, can be used only in the following cases:

a) In the case of information classified as accessible.

b) When there is express authorization by the owner of the information.

c) When expressly authorized by law.

d) When it is mandated by court order or the order of any other authority with the power to do so.

e) When requested by institutions governed by public law for the performance of their respective powers or the corporate purpose for which they were incorporated.

Updated: October 10, 2017