Originality and the protection of databases: a CJEU definition


Aurélia Marie

The legal protection of databases is defined by European Directive 96/9 of March 11, 1996.

Such protection is of two kinds: (i) copyright, provided that the database is an original work; and/or (ii) a sui generis right granted to the producer of a database as a return on the investment made for obtaining, verifying or organising the presentation of the database, allowing it—under certain conditions—to prohibit the extraction, or partial or complete unauthorised use, of the content by third parties.

Asked about the copyright protection given to a database relating to the establishment of football fixture lists, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) specified the conditions under which such protection is possible, in a decision of March 1, 2012 (Case C-604/10: Football Dataco Ltd et al v Yahoo UK Ltd et al). Indeed, in the present case the national jurisdiction had refused to apply sui generis database right protection due to the lack of substantial investment (a necessary condition for such protection to be claimed).

According to Article 1§2 of the Directive of 1996, a database is “a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means”.

CJEU, database protection, Football Dataco v Yahoo, copyright protection

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