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Council agrees common position on legal protection of databases Directive

Political agreement on a common position with regard to the proposed Directive relating to the legal protection of databases was reached at the 6 June 1995 Council of Internal Market Ministers. With the advent of the information society, the protection of databases takes on a...

Political agreement on a common position with regard to the proposed Directive relating to the legal protection of databases was reached at the 6 June 1995 Council of Internal Market Ministers. With the advent of the information society, the protection of databases takes on added importance, as most services will be provided from an electronic database available on-line or off-line (CD-ROM, CD-i, etc.). Databases will also have a major impact on the creation of new multimedia products. It is therefore essential that the EU provides a clear and well-defined level of protection for databases so as to ensure an attractive environment for investment while safeguarding users' interests. The main feature of this new Directive will be the creation of a new exclusive economic right protecting substantial investments made by manufacturers of databases. This new "sui generis" right will be granted to database creators to protect their investment of time, money and effort to establish a database, irrespective of whether the database is in itself innovative. In addition, the Directive will provide for harmonization of copyright law applicable to the structure of databases. The Directive's provisions will apply to paper-based databases, as well as electronic databases. On the basis of the new Directive, manufacturers of databases will be in a position to prohibit the extraction and/or reutilization of the entirety or substantial parts of the database by third parties. However, this new form of protection should not affect the rights of traditional rightholders, in particular of creators of works incorporated in the contents of a database. The "sui generis" protection will be valid for a period of 15 years, subject to renewal when new substantial investments take place. The same level of protection will be available within the single market for all databases manufactured within the Community. Such protection may be extended, in the future, to databases manufactured in third countries, if their legislation provides for a similar level of protection for Community databases. The Directive strikes a balance between the interests of the manufacturers of databases and the legitimate interests of their users. Particular account has been taken of situations in which the extraction of contents of databases is required for teaching purposes as well as for scientific research. It is expected that this legal innovation will receive significant attention from the Community's most important trading partners, as well as in international fora dealing with intellectual property rights. Formal adoption of the common position by the Council of Ministers is due shortly without further discussion at the Ministerial level. It will then be sent to the European Parliament for its second reading under the co-decision procedure. The Commission is expected to adopt a Green Paper dealing with authors' rights and neighbouring rights in the information society in the near future.

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