7 Yale J.L. & Tech. 534

Over the last decade, one of the most contentious issues in intellectual property has been the question of statutory protection for databases and compilations. A number of factors had converged during the 1990’s to place this issue on the policy agenda, including court decisions holding that the factual elements within collections of information are not necessarily covered by copyright laws,1 the adoption within the European Union of a Directive on the subject,2 and the continued advances in informational technologies that have made database collections increasingly vulnerable to misappropriation.3 The efforts of proponents of new, or sui generis database protections to enact new legislation in the United States had been unsuccessful in the 104th, 105th, 106th and 108th Congresses,4 and an effort to bring database protections within the ambit of the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) system of treaties failed to gain approval at its 1996 diplomatic conference. The continuing efforts of the European Union to place the issue of a new database treaty at the fore of the WIPO agenda through its Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights, has been unsuccessful in the face of growing resistance from developing countries.5 In the United States, various efforts to mediate the disparate position of the various stakeholders have been largely unsuccessful.6 This paper presents the drive towards sui generis legislation for databases as a case study that exemplifies the expansionary nature of the contemporary intellectual property policy environment. Section I places the problem in context by discussing the strategic importance of databases for the 1 See infra section II-A. 2 See infra section II-B 3 See infra section II-C. 4 See infra sections III-A, C, D, and G respectively. 5 See infra section III-D. 6 See infra text accompanying notes 174-178 and section III-F.