Member states of WIPO have been discussing the possible introduction of international protection of non-original databases which presently do not qualify for protection under copyright law.
The originality requirement that a database must constitute an intellectual creation by reason of the selection or arrangement of its contents in order to enjoy copyright protection means that some databases are not protected under copyright even if substantial investments have been made to produce them. It has been discussed whether such investments should also be protected, for example, by a sui generis right. Another possibility is to use an approach based on protection against misappropriation or unfair competition.
The WIPO Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighboring Rights Questions held in December 1996, which adopted the WIPO Internet Treaties, had among its documents a Basic Proposal for the Substantive Provisions of the Treaty on Intellectual Property in Respect of Databases to be considered by the Diplomatic Conference. Although agreement was not reached, the Conference adopted a Recommendation Concerning Databases.
In 2002, at the request of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR), the WIPO Secretariat commissioned six studies on the economic impact of international database protection on developing countries and countries in transition, and prepared a summary on existing legislation concerning intellectual property (IP) in non-original databases. These studies were discussed by the SCCR.
As far as developments at the regional and national levels are concerned, the European Community adopted, in 1996, the Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases, which contains provisions on sui generis protection of databases. The Directive has been implemented in countries of the European Union and by a number of countries linked to the Union through trade agreements. A few other countries also provide for protection of unoriginal databases in their national laws.
In June 2003, in view of the limited developments that had taken place on the subject, the SCCR decided to take the matter up only at its meeting in the sessions of June 2004 and November 2005, and thereafter only in case of request of interested delegations.
- Studies on the topic of protection of non-original databases (2002)
- Summary on Existing Legislation Concerning IP in Non-Original Databases (2002)
- Existing National and Regional Legislation Concerning IP in Databases (1997)
- Information meeting on IP in databases (September 17 to 19, 1997 - Geneva, Switzerland)
Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights
- All sessions of the SCCR - protection of non-original databases was discussed on 1st to 9th sessions except the 4th and on 11th and 13th sessions of the SCCR
Diplomatic conference (1996)
- Recommendation concerning databases
- Basic Proposal for the Substantive Provisions of the Treaty on IP in Respect of Databases
- Diplomatic Conference on Certain Copyright and Neighboring Rights Questions