Database protection, case C‑604/10

March 13th, 2012, Tomasz Rychlicki

The Court of Justice of the EU in its judgment of 1 March 2012 Case C-604/10 Football Dataco Ltd and Others v Yahoo! UK Ltd and Others held that Article 3(1) of Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases must be interpreted as meaning that a ‘database’ within the meaning of Article 1(2) of that directive is protected by the copyright laid down by that directive provided that the selection or arrangement of the data which it contains amounts to an original expression of the creative freedom of its author, which is a matter for the national court to determine. As a consequence:
– the intellectual effort and skill of creating that data are not relevant in order to assess the eligibility of that database for protection by that right;
– it is irrelevant, for that purpose, whether or not the selection or arrangement of that data includes the addition of important significance to that data, and
– the significant labour and skill required for setting up that database cannot as such justify such a protection if they do not express any originality in the selection or arrangement of the data which that database contains.
The Court also ruled that the Directive 96/9 must be interpreted as meaning that, subject to the transitional provision contained in Article 14(2) of that directive, it precludes national legislation which grants databases, as defined in Article 1(2) of the directive, copyright protection under conditions which are different to those set out in Article 3(1) of the directive.