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Database law

The Databases Act as we know it has been in force since 1999. Section 1 of the Databases Act defines a database as a collection of works, data or other independent elements that are systematically or methodically arranged and separately accessible by electronic means or otherwise, and for which the acquisition, control or presentation of the contents qualitatively or quantitatively demonstrates substantial investment. The definition of the Databases Act suggests that a database is more than, say, a list of address details of relations. In fact, any collection of data and records may be eligible for protection.


Database law is a relatively unknown law that is attracting increasing attention. Database law has certainly been the subject of several protracted disputes in recent years. In the real estate sector (Jaap.nl), the automotive sector (Gaspedaal.nl) and the publishing sector, there are regular lawsuits about being allowed to (re)use data.

Substantial investment

The determining factor for protection is whether the database is the result of a substantial investment. Precise amounts and/or efforts are not defined, nor is there a registration requirement. It is clear from case law that at least there must be demonstrable large-scale investment aimed at obtaining, controlling and/or presenting the database. In other words, it is not the value of the contents of the database that is decisive, but the investment in the database itself.

Right holder

Right holder is the producer, i.e. the risk bearer, of the aforementioned investments. A producer may oppose the extraction or reuse of a significant part of the contents of his database.

Database contents

The contents of a database may be protected by copyright, for example if it is a collection of photographs or texts. If the contents are not protected under copyright, it can be considered whether protection is possible under protection of writings.

Duration of protection

In terms of protection, a producer can claim protection of his rights for 15 years. If there is a significant change in the content of the same database, then another 15-year period starts to run.

Role of a lawyer

As databases by definition involve large interests (substantial investments), it is important to be well informed about the possibilities of protecting your database. The lawyers at Fruytier Lawyers in Business can assist you in this regard.

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