Database Rights

If you have a database which is original, it may qualify for protection through copyright and/or database rights.

A ‘database’ is a system which allows information to be stored and retrieved on demand in a timely and cost-effective way. For example, a list detailing the ‘top restaurants’ in Scotland would be considered to be a database as it is a collection of information.

A database may have clear commercial value and can require large investments of time and money to maintain, with its value quantified by its comprehensiveness and completeness. The greater the number of separate sections a database has, and the easier it is to recover data from it, the more useful and therefore more valuable it will be.

There is a distinct difference between rights in a database itself and rights to the data within one.

The information contained in a database, and how it is selected or arranged or (if computerised) the software used to create it, may be covered by copyright, in other words protected as an original work.

The database itself requires technical judgment in its creation to organise how data is stored, with a view to how best it can be retrieved. It is the judgment used to create the database that gives rise to the protection.

How can Thorntons help?

Our specialist Intellectual Property team can help you to ensure your database rights are sufficiently protected and to use your database to its fullest potential.

Database rights are relatively new and the Database Directive has caused much discussion across Europe. We can advise you on the best way of ensuring that your database qualifies for the heightened protection afforded under the new legislation. We can also discuss with you how best to use the data you have collected and build up a valuable database resource. Unsurprisingly, this area is closely linked with data protection law, and we can make sure you are compliant with the data protection rules.

Key Contacts


Liam McMonagle

+44 131 240 8879


Caroline Pigott

+44 131 603 8367

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