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
- For database right to apply there must have been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting its contents.
It is possible that a particular database will satisfy both these requirements so that both copyright and the database right apply.
There is no registration for the 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 afforded by the database right is much shorter than under copyright. Database rights lasts for fifteen years from making, but, if published during this time, then the term is fifteen years from publication.
What this means is that where substantial investment has taken place in collecting and authenticating data, the database right will apply giving fifteen years of protection to the collection.