Bavaria sued and largely won, except that the second instance court dismissed the Land of Bavaria’s claims based on protection of databases pursuant to Paragraph 87a et seq. UrhG [which implements the Database Directive, Directive 96/9]. The Bundesgerichtshof, on appeal, had doubts about the scope of Art. 1 Database Directive, which provides, in part:
1.This Directive concerns the legal protection of databases in any form.
2. For the purposes of this Directive, “database” shall mean a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means.The BGH asked, in essence, whether Article 1(2) of Directive 96/9 must be interpreted as meaning that geographical data extracted from a topographic map in order that a third party may produce and market another map retain, after extraction, sufficient informative value to be held to be ‘independent materials’ of a ‘database’ within the meaning of that provision.
|Cats have maps too|
The fact that, typically, the informative value of material that is taken out of its context declines does not mean that it has no autonomous informative value after being extracted from the collection concerned. Therefore the information extracted by Verlag Esterbauer from the Land of Bavaria’s topographic maps constitutes ‘independent materials’ from a ‘database’ within the meaning of Article 1(2) of Directive 96/9 since, once extracted, that information provides (some of the) customers of the company using that information with relevant information.
Babylonian clay tablet dating from the 24th century BC depicting a map of a river valley between two hills, with cuneiform inscriptions labelling the features on the map, is a database in the sense of European law...