IIA Praises Introduction of Database Protection Measure

Article excerpt

Representative Carlos Moorhead (R-CA), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Courts and Intellectual Property, has introduced H.R. 3531, the Database Investment and Intellectual Property Antipiracy Act of 1996.

"The Information Industry Association (IIA) and its members enthusiastically support the introduction of this legislation by Chairman Moorhead," IIA President Ronald G. Dunn said. "It represents a major step forward in assuring that U.S. producers of databases do not face the threat of unfair competition. It will therefore encourage the development of more innovative and useful database products for the emerging digital marketplace."

The legislation would protect producers of databases against commercially harmful extraction or re-use of data from their products. Specifically, the legislation grants protection to database producers who demonstrate "a qualitatively or quantitatively substantial investment of human, technical, financial, or other resources in the collection, assembly, verification, organization, or presentation of the database contents."

A law like this will allay the growing concerns among many in the information industry that the legal tools currently available to combat unscrupulous commercial competitors are inadequate," Dunn said.

Feist and Copyright Protection

IIA's Board of Directors approved a resolution in August 1995 supporting enactment of database protection legislation.

According to press material from the IIA, the debate about the need for database protection began several years ago. The limitations on copyright protection for databases were made apparent by the Supreme Court's 1991 decision in Feist Publications v. Rural Telephone Service Co. Several lower court cases since then have held that substantial copying of factual material from a database is not illegal, even if the purpose is to create a competing commercial product.

On the international front, the European Union this year passed a database protection directive that provides a new form of protection for databases to, supplement copyright law. However, the directive extends protection only to database producers located in an EU member state. …