Sui Generis Database Protection in the EU

I received an email from a colleague that alerted me to a recent EU report entitled “DG Internal Market and Services Working Paper: First Evaluation of Directive 96/9/C on the Legal Protection of Databases” dated December 12, 2005.

This report suggests that database protection is not needed and did not provide the economic incentives that the database providers argued that such protection would provide.

I quote part of my colleague’s comments:

One of the issues that is lurking in the background at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the notion of sui generis protection of databases (i.e., separate rights in a database beyond copyright law). On Monday the EC released a report that evaluates the impact of its Directive establishing such protection.

The report concludes (on page 5) that:

“The economic impact of the “sui generis” right on database production is unproven. Introduced to stimulate the production of databases in Europe, the new instrument has had no proven impact on the production of databases. Data taken from the GDD (see Section 4.2.3) show that the EU database production in 2004 has fallen back to pre-Directive levels: the number of EU-based database “entries” into the GDD6 was 3095 in 2004 as compared to 3092 in 1998. In 2001, there were 4085 EU-based “entries” while in 2004 there were only 3095.

Is “sui generis” protection therefore necessary for a thriving database industry? The empirical evidence, at this stage, casts doubts on this necessity. The European publishing industry, which was consulted in a restricted online survey, however produced strong submissions arguing that “sui generis” protection was crucial to the continued success of their activities.”


  1. A cynic (Qui? Moi?) might point out that lack of connection to economic reality has never been an obstacle to Brussel’s regulatory intervention.