Unproven Economic Impact of the Sui Generis Right on Database Protection

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Cedric Manara points us to an evaluation report (I was only able to open/download it by using Internet Explorer) on the EU Database Directive published by the DG Internal Maket and Services. The evaluation focuses on whether the introduction of this right led to an increase in the European database industry’s rate of growth and in database production. According to the press release, it was conducted on the basis of an online survey addressed to the European database industry and the Gale Directory of Databases as the largest existing database directory that contains statistics indicating the growth of the global database industry since the 1970s.

The most interesting and important part of the report (p. 5) reads as follows:

“The economic impact of the “sui generis” right on database production is unproven. Introduced to stimulate the production of databases in Europe, the new instrument has had no proven impact on the production of databases. Data taken from the GDD (see Section 4.2.3) show that the EU database production in 2004 has fallen back to pre-Directive levels: the number of EU-based database “entries” into the GDD6 was 3095 in 2004 as compared to 3092 in 1998. In 2001, there were 4085 EU-based “entries” while in 2004 there were only 3095.
Is “sui generis” protection therefore necessary for a thriving database industry? The empirical evidence, at this stage, casts doubts on this necessity. The European publishing industry, which was consulted in a restricted online survey, however produced strong submissions arguing that “sui generis” protection was crucial to the continued success of their activities. In addition, most respondents to the on-line survey (see Section 4.2.2) believe that the “sui generis” right has brought about legal certainty, reduced the costs associated with the protection of databases, created more business opportunities and facilitated the marketing of databases.”

These findings, I believe, have also the potential to shape the U.S. debate on the question of database protection. For conclusions within the EU framework see pp. 5-6 of the report.

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