Copyright for your business

Database right protection

Guide

A database may be protected by database right as well as copyright. A database is defined as a collection of independent works, data or other materials which are:

  • arranged in a systematic or methodical way
  • individually accessible by electronic or other means

A literary work consisting of a database is original if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database, the database constitutes the author's own intellectual creation - see copyright protection.

When does database right apply?

For database right protection to apply, you must have put 'substantial investment in obtaining, verifying and/or presenting' its contents. Like copyright, there is no registration for database right - it is automatic and begins as soon as the data exists in a recorded form.

Database right protection lasts 15 years from the end of the year in which the database was completed. However, if you then publish the database during that 15-year period, the term is 15 years from the end of the year of publication.

If you compile a database that is a collection of copyrighted works, eg a database of modern poetry, you need to make sure that you have permission from the copyright owners to use their material. See how to licence or buy other people's copyright.

Similarly, people using protected databases need to be aware of the rights of both the copyright and database right owners. Note, however, that someone can lawfully use part of a published database for non-commercial research or educational purposes as long as they acknowledge the source. Find information on copyright exceptions.

Find more information on the database right.