Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Will the "database right" block OA archiving?

A German court has ruled that journal editors may acquire a copyright in the collections they assemble, even if they don't hold copyrights on the individual articles.  Hence, if an OA repository contains copies of many or all of the same articles, arranged in the same systematic or methodical way that the journal arranged them, then it could violate the editor's right.

Thanks to Klaus Graf for his blog post on the decision, in German or Google's English.  Thanks as well to Sebastian Krujatz (specialist in German IP law at the Max Planck Institute for Intellectual Property, Competition and Tax Law) for helping me make my short summary accurate.

Comment.  This decision shouldn't stop routine self-archiving in Germany.  But it could be an obstacle as funder and university policies drive the rates of OA archiving toward 100%.  To use the terms of US law, it's another good reason to oppose the "database right", which gives quasi-copyright protection to the labor of collecting information together, even when the information is in the public domain or under copyright to someone else.