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Database right

A database, that is a collection of data or other material that is arranged in such a way so that the items are individually accessible, may be protected by copyright as a literary work and/or database right. This protection can apply to both paper and electronic databases.

For copyright protection to apply, the database must have originality in the selection or arrangement of the contents and for database right to apply, there must have been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting its contents. It is possible that a database will satisfy both these requirements so that both copyright and database right apply.

There is no registration for database right - it is an automatic right like copyright and commences as soon as the material that can be protected exists in a recorded form. However, the term of protection under database right is much shorter than under copyright. Database right lasts for 15 years from making but, if published during this time, then the term is 15 years from publication.

Many databases are a collection of copyright works, such as a database of poetry from the last fifty years where each poem will also be protected by copyright. So people compiling databases need to make sure that they have permission from the copyright owners for use of their material and people using databases need to be aware of the rights of the owners of underlying works as well as database right owners.