Companies expecting legal protection for commercial information contained in their databases may find their data is not as secure as they thought, a legal firm has warned.
Tarlo Lyons said a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice stated that databases containing customer sales details and other commercial information may not be protected, unless the database administrator can prove they have spent a lot of time and money managing the resource.
A case brought by the British Horseracing Board (BHB) against bookmaker William Hill has led to the uncertainty over database copyright law.
BHB had accused William Hill of taking information from its horse racing information database without paying for a licence to do so.
After the case was referred to the European Court of Justice, it was ruled that the BHB had failed to demonstrate that much effort was needed to manage the information in the database, and therefore it could not be commercially protected under European intellectual property law.
Tarlo Lyons said the ruling could affect the market in the sale of databases containing sales leads, marketing data and other information, which is a rich seam of revenue in the media, marketing and advertising industries.
Tarlo Lyons said, "Database owners will now need to be more aware of what they need to do to protect their databases. They may now have to concentrate more on database accessibility, presentation and verification, rather than simply database creation."
Tips for database owners to help keep copyright:
- Invest in the verification and presentation of your database, and keep a record of this investment.
- Seek to assert your database rights by including a database rights notice in any electronic or hard copy of the database.
- Consider whether it is possible to encrypt or technically protect the data.
- Prevent third parties from having access to the entire contents and restrict unauthorised use.
Source: Tarlo Lyons