HomeInsightsEuropean Commission publishes roadmap for evaluation of Database Directive (96/9/EC)

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The Commission says that the purpose of the evaluation is twofold: (i) to assess whether the Directive still fulfills its policy goals of providing protection of databases, including those not protected under copyright, while taking into account users’ legitimate interests; and (ii) to determine whether the Directive is still relevant in view of the development of new technologies, new business models based on data exploitation, and other emerging data-related issues, policies and legal frameworks on data access and ownership, stemming from the Digital Single Market Strategy.

The assessment will focus on the sui generis protection of databases because, in practice, the sui generis protection of databases appears to have been more widely used than the copyright protection, the Commission says.

In 2005, the Commission carried out an evaluation of the Directive, which reported that the sui generis protection was “an important tool that led to a higher protection of databases.” It showed that the right was used by a variety of businesses, including publishers, news agencies, telecoms companies, direct marketing companies, and bioscience companies. Websites also benefitted from the sui generis protection, but the conditions of protection were not always met and websites in which substantial investment was only made in the creation of data were excluded from the scope of protection.

The report also showed that the scope of the Database Directive was unclear, that the economic impact on database production remained unproven and that further empirical analysis was necessary to conclude on the usefulness of the Directive in developing European database sales. In addition, academic researchers and libraries considered that the exceptions to the sui generis right were unclear and not sufficient to ensure legal certainty.

Against that background, the Commission says that this new evaluation will aim at gathering up-to-date evidence on the impact that the Directive has had on both database makers and users. The evaluation will consider the relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency and EU added value of the Directive’s provisions and the legislation implementing it. The Commission has also published a public consultation on the Directive (see below).

The results of the evaluation will be used to identify measures to improve the Directive and its implementation. To access the roadmap and for information on how to provide feedback, click here.