UK Database Law

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UK Database Law
INTRODUCTION

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A database is a collection of information stored in a computer in a systematic way, such that a computer program can consult it to answer questions. The software used to manage and query a database is known as a database management system (DBMS).

For the purposes of English law, s.3A Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 defines a database as a collection of independent works, data or other materials which are:

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

As such, under English law, a database includes data held electronically and, notably, data held in a non-electronic format, e.g. paper records.

The law in England and Wales recognises the existence of two separate legal rights in databases:

Copyright is available to certain, but not all, databases. The key criterion for determining the availability of copyright to a database is whether the database qualifies as a "literary work".

Database right is available to all databases.