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  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: July 2009

5 - Databases



When the EU database Directive was enacted in early 1996, there was much discussion about it being at the same time a multimedia Directive. Multimedia products at that stage seemed to be blocked in many countries from coming under the protection of compilations on the basis that, although they were considered to form some sort of compilation, they did not contain only works (as originally required in the Berne Convention and consequently in the laws of many of its Member States), but other materials as well. In fact most of their contents were data, information which would not qualify under any regime as material capable of attracting copyright protection. The second problem multimedia products were presenting was the fact that they were not coming anywhere near to the conventional book-format of manually accessible compilations. Multimedia products, if held to be compilations, could only be digital ones. It was not clear in the Berne Convention and the laws of many countries, which did not expressly provide for the protection of databases, that traditional compilations could be legitimately extended to cover digital or electronic compilations. Since, by the enactment of legislation concerning the protection of databases at Community level, these two hurdles disappeared, there were many commentators who stood by the opinion that any distinction between databases and multimedia products would be both unwise and impractical.