Database Right

Posted on 22 April 2015


The world is moving towards the era of big data.

But before we reach there, the current information economy has placed considerable value in databases, especially customer contacts, shopping, travelling and spending behavior, traffic data, customer credit rating, stock exchange price movement and transactions and etc.

Thus, does the creator (or the collector) have any intellectual property rights (IPRs) on these unprocessed raw data or processed databases?

Copyright of database

In general, the processed databases are entitled for copyright protection, with a pre-condition to be met – the creator must display a high level of skill or originality in processing.

Once the database is qualified for protection, the creator will have the copyright for a period of his lifetime and 50 years (for Malaysia) or 70 years (for United Kingdom and Australia) after his death.

However, most of these databases may not be protected by copyright, due to the higher standard requirement of the ‘originality’.

The new database right

In resolving this, in Europe, the European Council issued Database Directive (Dir. 96/9/EC) in 1996, and created a new IPR – database right, also known as ‘sui generis database right’.

The creator of database, who has taken the initiative in obtaining, verifying and presenting the contents of the database and assumes the risk of investing, is entitled to database right. The entitlement will last for 15 years from the end of calendar years in which the making of database was completed.

And, Malaysia is yet to recognize the database right.