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Europe court rules in favor of broad database copy protection

[JURIST] The European Court of Justice (ECJ) [official website] has broadly interpreted [judgment; ECJ materials] rules protecting the content of databases from copying, regardless of how the information is extracted from its source. The court was considering a lawsuit filed by the University of Freiburg (UF) [university website] against Direct Media Publishing (DMP) [official website, in German] for selling data CDs with a list of poems virtually identical to one created by the university. UF had argued that, because of its significant investment in the compilation of the list, its contents was protected under Article 7 of Directive 96/9 of the European Parliament [text]. DMP had argued that even if it had used the information, doing so was not prohibited by the Directive because the data could have been referenced and reproduced rather than digitally copied. The court held Friday that the means of copying the information was immaterial, and that instead the test was whether or not the content had been substantially reproduced:

The transfer of material from a protected database to another database following an on?screen consultation of the first database and an individual assessment of the material contained in that first database is capable of constituting an ‘extraction’, within the meaning of Article 7 of Directive 96/9 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases, to the extent that – which it is for the referring court to ascertain – that operation amounts to the transfer of a substantial part, evaluated qualitatively or quantitatively, of the contents of the protected database, or to transfers of insubstantial parts which, by their repeated or systematic nature, would have resulted in the reconstruction of a substantial part of those contents.
Out-Law has more.

The ECJ last ruled on protections for databases in 2004, when it held [press release] that information taken from a database on race horses did not violate the Directive, because not enough of the information had been copied. On the enforcement of copyright protections, the ECJ in January ruled [judgment; JURIST report] against Promusicae [trade website], a Spanish music industry coalition, finding that telecommunication companies have no duty to disclose the names and addresses of people suspected of engaging in illegal file sharing.

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