Databases occupy a special position in the context of copyright. Since 1999, databases, as ‘independent works’, have been eligible for protection via copyright or via the database law. There are three different regimes for the protection of databases: ‘normal’ copyright protection, protection on the basis of an investment criterion, and protection as impersonal writings.
A database can only enjoy copyright protection if it has an original structure. If this is not the case, protection by way of database law is possible.
If you have made a substantial investment in order to construct a database, database law can protect you against retrieval or reuse of a substantial part of the database. ‘Milking’ of a database is not allowed under this law. The database is protected for 15 years after completion. If the existing database undergoes substantial change in a qualitative or quantitative sense, the 15-year period begins again. If the database is not original and does not meet the investment criterion, protection as impersonal writing is a final (limited) option.
Arnold + Siedsma can advise its clients on database law and assist them in related proceedings.