When is a database not a database?

Databases receive protection by virtue of the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 (Regulations) as a copyright work. However, following the decision in Ryanair Ltd v PR Aviation BV, Case C-30/14, 15 January 2015 it may be possible for the creator of a 'database' to protect a work where it is not covered by the Regulations.

The European Court of Justice determined in the Ryanair case that flight data made publicly available on Ryanair's website was not protected by the EU Directive that gives rise to the Regulations. Consequently, the use of contractual terms on Ryanair's website prohibiting the use of data by price comparison websites were not invalid.

The extent to which website terms and conditions are enforceable is yet to be tested. The Court of Appeal did not give an opinion on the issue in Newspaper Licensing Agency v Meltwater [2011] EWCA Civ 890, but this is surely likely to follow if price comparison websites are to continue to extract information from supplier websites.

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