Big Data and the EU Database Directive 96/9/EC: Current Law and Potential for Reform

20 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2018

See all articles by Matthias Leistner

Matthias Leistner

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU)

Date Written: September 7, 2018


The recent discussion of the function and relevance of the European Database Directive’s sui generis right for database makers for the European data economy has been characterized by the assumption that in most big data situations the crucial condition of a ‘substantial investment’ will not be fulfilled. While it has to be admitted that the details of drawing the thin red line between investments into obtaining data and investments into the creation of data have remained contentious, by contrast, the sweeping conclusion that all sensor or other machine-generated data will typically not be covered by the sui generis right is not warranted.

In a first step, this paper reveals that the sui generis right will provide relevant exclusive protection to the database maker in many big data use situations. Secondly, this paper analyzes what modifications are required for adapting the protection of databases to the digital age.

Keywords: Database Protection, Database Directive, Data Ownership, Access to Data, Data Sharing, Data Economy, Data-Driven Economy, Internet of Things, Data Analytics, Database Rights, Digital Single Market Directive Proposal, European Court of Justice

JEL Classification: K

Suggested Citation

Leistner, Matthias, Big Data and the EU Database Directive 96/9/EC: Current Law and Potential for Reform (September 7, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Matthias Leistner (Contact Author)

Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) ( email )

Marstallstraße 8
Munich, Bavaria 80539

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