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Legal protection of databases: Amended proposal

An amended proposal for a Council Directive on the legal protection of databases (COM(93)464) sets out the text of the Commission's preliminary proposal (COM(92)24 of 15.4.1992 published in OJ No C 156 of 23.6.1992) in parallel with the text subsequent to the European Parliame...
An amended proposal for a Council Directive on the legal protection of databases (COM(93)464) sets out the text of the Commission's preliminary proposal (COM(92)24 of 15.4.1992 published in OJ No C 156 of 23.6.1992) in parallel with the text subsequent to the European Parliament's first reading and opinion of 23 June 1993, under the cooperation procedure, and incorporating a number of the amendments the Parliament voted at that time.

The aim of the proposed Directive is to harmonize legislation for the legal protection of databases in the Member States as existing protective legislation, where it exists, has different attributes. These differences have direct and negative effects on the establishment and functioning of the Internal Market, in particular with regard to the freedom of individuals and companies to provide on-line database goods and services on an equal legal basis throughout the Community. Such differences could well become more pronounced as Member States introduce new legislation on this subject, which is now taking on an increasingly international dimension.

At present, the use of digital recording technology exposes the database maker to the risk that the contents of the database may be downloaded and rearranged electronically without authorization to produce a database of identical content but which does not infringe any copyright in the arrangement of the original database.

In addition to protecting the copyright in the original selection or arrangement of the contents of a database, the Directive seeks to safeguard the position of makers of databases against misappropriation of the results of the financial and professional investment incurred in obtaining and collecting data by providing that certain acts done in relation to the contents of a database are subject to restriction even when the contents are not themselves protected by copyright or other rights. This "right to prevent unfair extraction" is not to be considered as an extension of copyright protection to mere facts or data, and should not give rise to the creation of any independent right in the works or materials themselves.

In the interests of competition between suppliers of information products and services, the maker of a database which is commercially distributed and whose database is the sole possible source of a given work or material, should make that work or material available under licence for use by others, providing that the works or materials licensed are used in the independent creation of new works, and providing that no prior rights in, or obligations incurred in respect of, those works or materials are infringed.

Licences granted in such circumstances should be fair and non-discriminatory under conditions to be agreed with the right holder.

The proposal covers: The object of protection; copyright and the right to prevent unfair extraction from a database; authorship and copyright; the incorporation of works or materials into a database; restricted acts with regard to copyright and exceptions to restricted acts; licensing of the right to extract and re-utilise database contents; terms of protection; beneficiaries of protection; continued application of other legal provisions (the provisions of the Directive shall be without prejudice to legal provisions concerning works or materials incorporated into a database such as copyright, patent rights, trade marks or design rights, trade secrets, confidentiality, data protection, and the law of contract).

Member States shall bring into force the laws and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive before 1 January 1995.

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