The EU has researched the effects of the EU Database Protection Directive (Directive 96/9/EC), discovering that despite, or perhaps because of, the EU’s “protections” for its database developers, database development in the EU has been outpaced by the US’ competitive, “un-protected” database industry.
From the press release:
On the basis of the information available, the evaluation finds that the economic impact of the “sui generis” right on database production is unproven. However, the European publishing industry, consulted in the online survey, argued that “sui generis” protection is crucial to the continued success of their activities. In addition, most respondents to the online survey 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. Therefore, further evidence on the usefulness of “sui generis” protection needs to be gathered.
While the report found no benefits from the protection, the publishers were nevertheless unanimous in wanting to keep it. Such is the power and allure of the property metaphor, that nobody ever wants to give up any kind of conceived “property right”, even when it is self-evidently not helpful or a hindrance.
At this stage, the evaluation concludes that repealing the Directive altogether or repealing the “sui generis” right in isolation would probably lead to considerable resistance by the EU database industry which wishes to retain “sui generis” protection for factual compilations. While this resistance is not entirely based on empirical data (many factual compilations would, most likely, remain protected under the high standard of “originality” introduced by the Directive), this evaluation takes note of the fact that European publishers and database producers would prefer to retain the “sui generis” protection in addition to and, in some instances, in parallel with copyright protection.
“Stakeholders” are invited to comment on the report by March 12, 2006.
[Evaluation of Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases, 2005 Dec. 12; press release 12/12; related docs. James Boyle writes about the study in the FT, linked from BoingBoing; the report, linked from wikipedia]