In most countries, databases are covered by copyright law to some degree, as being a work that shows originality in its selection, coordination and arrangement. The lawmakers of the European Union decided that in order to provide greater legal cover to collections of information they should have a unified legal cover for databases. To this end, they created a sui generis right called database right. It was created by Council Directive No. 96/9/EC of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases.
Database right lasts for 15 years under this regime, but can be extended if the database is updated. A database right prevents copying of substantial parts of a database (including frequent extraction of insubstantial parts). However, unlike copyright the cover is not over the form of expression of information but of the information itself.
In many other respects, a database right is similar to copyright: it is created automatically, vests in employers, does not have to be registered and is a right against use.