The public consultation took place between 24 May and 30 August 2017. It was conducted in the context of the ex-post evaluation of the Directive on the legal protection of databases. The aim of the consultation was to understand how the Database Directive, and in particular the sui generis protection of databases, is used, to evaluate its impact on users and to identify possible needs of adjustment. This summary report takes stock of the contributions and presents preliminary trends that emerge from them. A synopsis report will be published in due course.
Objectives of the consultation
The Database Directive (Directive 96/9/EC on the legal protection of databases, the 'Directive'), adopted in 1996, is part of the EU copyright acquis. It aimed to create a harmonised legal framework of ground rules for the protection of a wide variety of databases while ensuring the legitimate interests of users to access information in databases. Since the entry into force of the Directive, the role and importance of the database market have evolved. The public consultation aimed to gather information on the functioning and application of the Directive so as to analyse its impact on relevant stakeholders and identify possible needs of adjustment.
The results of the public consultation will feed into the ongoing ex-post evaluation of the Database Directive. The Commission will analyse the functioning of the Directive, with a special focus on the sui generis protection of databases. It will also examine whether the Directive is still fit-for-purpose in view of recent technological, economic and legal developments, in particular in an increasingly data-driven economy.
Who replied to the consultation?
The public consultation received a total of 113 replies: 83 from organisations and 30 from individuals. The largest number of replies came from Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom.
As regards non-individual replies, the largest proportion of respondents were trade associations and businesses, followed by organisations representing civil society and non-governmental organisation. We did not receive contributions from national administrations or national regulators nor from consumers organisations.
Categories of non-individual respondents
Preliminary findings of the public consultation
Without prejudice to the in-depth analysis of the replies to the public consultation, which will be presented in the synopsis report, the following overall preliminary trends can be observed:
- More than half of the respondents consider that the original objectives of the Directive are still in line with the needs of the EU. However, views are divided as to whether the Directive has achieved its objective to protect a wide variety of databases.
- As regards the sui generis right, more than half of the respondents consider that it sufficiently protects investments made in the creation, updating and maintenance of databases. However, opinions are divided as to whether the current scope of the sui generis right is still satisfactory. Contributions received focused, among other issues, on whether the sui generis right has brought more legal certainty for database makers and users (in particular concerning in which cases databases are protected and in which cases users' acts are licit).
Views are also split as to whether the Directive achieves a good balance between the rights and interests of rightholders and users. Opinions on the impact of the sui generis right on the re-use of data are equally diverging.
Finally, there is no clear consensus on which approach should prevail to achieve an adequate balance between database owners' rights and users' needs. A number of respondents would see merits in considering amending the sui generis right, while others take the view that no policy change should be proposed.
The Commission is now analysing in-depth the replies received. A synopsis report will be published in due course. The results will contribute to the ex-post evaluation of the Database Directive and to also examine possible needs of adjustment.