Presentation Details

The Fourth International Conference on Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations

The Database as Intellectual Property: An Ethical Analysis

Susan F Corbett.

Intellectual property rights in databases currently depend upon the provenance of the particular database. The strongest rights are awarded in the European Union, where evidence of a substantial investment in the making of a database qualifies it for sui generis protection under the European Database Directive. One of the most contentious provisions of the Directive is Article 10 which provides, in effect, that any database that is continually updated will have perpetual protection pursuant to the sui generis right. Organisations from countries outside the European Union, whose databases tend to be reliant upon the more limited rights provided by traditional copyright laws, are urging their own governments to bring similar legislation into force in their own countries.
However this drive to place information and knowledge in the perpetual control of private organisations simply because it has been collated within a database is not only contrary to traditional intellectual property principles but may also constitute an infringement of basic human rights in today's 'knowledge economy'. The full paper applies some standard ethical theories to an analysis of this issue.


Susan F Corbett  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer in Commercial Law
School of Accountancy and Commercial Law Faculty of Commerce and Administration
Victoria University of Wellington

Formerly in practice as a solicitor in London, Susan has also worked for Butterworths UK as a legal editor. She now teaches commercial law to business students in Wellington, New Zealand, where her main areas of interest are intellectual property law and the law of e-commerce.

  • Database
  • Knowledge
  • Information
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Organisations
  • Ethical Theories
  • Human Rights

(Virtual Presentation, English)