Friday, October 10, 2008

Wider protection for Databases?

The European Court of Justice has, by a recent decision, seemingly given wider protection to the owners of databases.

Databases are big business these days with almost all websites interacting with a database. The European Database Directive was set up to protect these valuable assets based on the existing copyright regime. 'Screen scraping' of website database information is now fairly common and this should assist database owners from protecting their rights.

A person infringes a database right if, without consent, they extract or re-utilise all or a substantial part of the contents of a database. The Directive prevents "extraction" which in this recent decision was interpreted widely. Thus protection can be seen to be wider.

Proving the copying of a database right is always difficult though. There are technical (coding) ways to demonstrate copying but the best and most practical way is to insert "Ghost" (made up) entries or insert deliberate mistakes or grammatical errors that others are unlikely to have made. The chances of two people making the same mistakes and making up the same "Ghost entries" is highly unlikely.

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