Database copyright

A database will only attract copyright, says the European Court of Justice, if the selection or arrangement of its data – rather than the creation of the data itself – amounts to an original expression of the creative freedom of its author. A database will not qualify for copyright protection unless the skill and labour express some originality in the design of its arrangement. This ruling comes in a response to a case at the Court of Appeal. It confirms that a database which is beset by inflexible rules or criteria which includes those assembled by automated means cannot be a copyright work. The case has implications where data is collated by means of computer programs and where there is no room for creativity.

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