Database Rights in Safe European Home: The Path to More Rigorous Protection of Information
Virtanen, Perttu (2005)
Aineistoon ei liity tiedostoja.
Acta Universitatis LappeenrantaensisURN:ISSN:1456-4491
1. Introduction "The one that has compiled ... a database, the collection, securing the validity or presentation of which has required an essential investment, has the sole right to control the content over the whole work or over either a qualitatively or quantitatively substantial part of the work both by means of reproduction and by making them available to the public", Finnish Copyright Act, section 49.1 These are the laconic words that implemented the much-awaited and hotly debated European Community Directive on the legal protection of databases,2 the EDD, into Finnish Copyright legislation in 1998. Now in the year 2005, after more than half a decade of the domestic implementation it is yet uncertain as to the proper meaning and construction of the convoluted qualitative criteria the current legislation employs as a prerequisite for the database protection both in Finland and within the European Union. Further, this opaque Pan-European instrument has the potential of bringing about a number of far-reaching economic and cultural ramifications, which have remained largely uncharted or unobserved. Thus the task of understanding this particular and currently peculiarly European new intellectual property regime is twofold: first, to understand the mechanics and functioning of the EDD and second, to realise the potential and risks inherent in the new legislation in economic, cultural and societal dimensions. 2. Subject-matter of the study: basic issues The first part of the task mentioned above is straightforward: questions such as what is meant by the key concepts triggering the functioning of the EDD such as presentation of independent information, what constitutes an essential investment in acquiring data and when the reproduction of a given database reaches either qualitatively or quantitatively the threshold of substantiality before the right-holder of a database can avail himself of the remedies provided by the statutory framework remain unclear and call for a careful analysis. As for second task, it is already obvious that the practical importance of the legal protection providedby the database right is in the rapid increase. The accelerating transformationof information into digital form is an existing fact, not merely a reflection of a shape of things to come in the future. To take a simple example, the digitisation of a map, traditionally in paper format and protected by copyright, can provide the consumer a markedly easier and faster access to the wanted material and the price can be, depending on the current state of the marketplace, cheaper than that of the traditional form or even free by means of public lending libraries providing access to the information online. This also renders it possible for authors and publishers to make available and sell their products to markedly larger, international markets while the production and distribution costs can be kept at minimum due to the new electronic production, marketing and distributionmechanisms to mention a few. The troublesome side is for authors and publishers the vastly enhanced potential for illegal copying by electronic means, producing numerous virtually identical copies at speed. The fear of illegal copying canlead to stark technical protection that in turn can dampen down the demand for information goods and services and furthermore, efficiently hamper the right of access to the materials available lawfully in electronic form and thus weaken the possibility of access to information, education and the cultural heritage of anation or nations, a condition precedent for a functioning democracy. 3. Particular issues in Digital Economy and Information Networks All what is said above applies a fortiori to the databases. As a result of the ubiquity of the Internet and the pending breakthrough of Mobile Internet, peer-to-peer Networks, Localand Wide Local Area Networks, a rapidly increasing amount of information not protected by traditional copyright, such as various lists, catalogues and tables,3previously protected partially by the old section 49 of the Finnish Copyright act are available free or for consideration in the Internet, and by the same token importantly, numerous databases are collected in order to enable the marketing, tendering and selling products and services in above mentioned networks. Databases and the information embedded therein constitutes a pivotal element in virtually any commercial operation including product and service development, scientific research and education. A poignant but not instantaneously an obvious example of this is a database consisting of physical coordinates of a certain selected group of customers for marketing purposes through cellular phones, laptops and several handheld or vehicle-based devices connected online. These practical needs call for answer to a plethora of questions already outlined above: Has thecollection and securing the validity of this information required an essential input? What qualifies as a quantitatively or qualitatively significant investment? According to the Directive, the database comprises works, information and other independent materials, which are arranged in systematic or methodical way andare individually accessible by electronic or other means. Under what circumstances then, are the materials regarded as arranged in systematic or methodical way? Only when the protected elements of a database are established, the question concerning the scope of protection becomes acute. In digital context, the traditional notions of reproduction and making available to the public of digital materials seem to fit ill or lead into interpretations that are at variance with analogous domain as regards the lawful and illegal uses of information. This may well interfere with or rework the way in which the commercial and other operators have to establish themselves and function in the existing value networks of information products and services. 4. International sphere After the expiry of the implementation period for the European Community Directive on legal protection of databases, the goals of the Directive must have been consolidated into the domestic legislations of the current twenty-five Member States within the European Union. On one hand, these fundamental questions readily imply that the problemsrelated to correct construction of the Directive underlying the domestic legislation transpire the national boundaries. On the other hand, the disputes arisingon account of the implementation and interpretation of the Directive on the European level attract significance domestically. Consequently, the guidelines on correct interpretation of the Directive importing the practical, business-oriented solutions may well have application on European level. This underlines the exigency for a thorough analysis on the implications of the meaning and potential scope of Database protection in Finland and the European Union. This position hasto be contrasted with the larger, international sphere, which in early 2005 does differ markedly from European Union stance, directly having a negative effect on international trade particularly in digital content. A particular case in point is the USA, a database producer primus inter pares, not at least yet having aSui Generis database regime or its kin, while both the political and academic discourse on the matter abounds. 5. The objectives of the study The above mentioned background with its several open issues calls for the detailed study of thefollowing questions: -What is a database-at-law and when is a database protected by intellectual property rights, particularly by the European database regime?What is the international situation? -How is a database protected and what is its relation with other intellectual property regimes, particularly in the Digital context? -The opportunities and threats provided by current protection to creators, users and the society as a whole, including the commercial and cultural implications? -The difficult question on relation of the Database protection and protection of factual information as such. 6. Dsiposition The Study, in purporting to analyse and cast light on the questions above, is divided into three mainparts. The first part has the purpose of introducing the political and rationalbackground and subsequent legislative evolution path of the European database protection, reflected against the international backdrop on the issue. An introduction to databases, originally a vehicle of modern computing and information andcommunication technology, is also incorporated. The second part sets out the chosen and existing two-tier model of the database protection, reviewing both itscopyright and Sui Generis right facets in detail together with the emergent application of the machinery in real-life societal and particularly commercial context. Furthermore, a general outline of copyright, relevant in context of copyright databases is provided. For purposes of further comparison, a chapter on the precursor of Sui Generi, database right, the Nordic catalogue rule also ensues. The third and final part analyses the positive and negative impact of the database protection system and attempts to scrutinize the implications further in the future with some caveats and tentative recommendations, in particular as regards the convoluted issue concerning the IPR protection of information per se, a new tenet in the domain of copyright and related rights.Sähköisen tiedon vaihdannan lisääntyessä tietoverkkojen kuten Internetin kautta tietokantojen, jotka ovat sähköisiä tietokokoelmia, merkitys kasvaa osana ns. tietoyhteiskunnan jokapäiväistä toimintaa. Koska tietokannan jäljentäminen ja käyttäminenesimerkiksi kilpailevaan kaupalliseen toimintaan ilman alkuperäisen tietokannankokoamiseen liittyvää työtä ja panostusta saattaa olla hyvin helppoa, Euroopan Yhteisössä saatettiin voimaan v. 1998 lähtien kaksitasoinen immateriaalioikeudellinen suoja tietokannoille. Suojaan on liittynyt lukuisia tulkintavaikeuksia vaikeuttaen tietokantojen kokoamista, edelleen kehittämistä ja luvallista käyttöä. Toimimattomilta osin suojaa tulee kehittää edelleen.
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