Databases can be a valuable commercial asset for a recruitment company and generally time and money is invested in their creation and maintenance. The law protects this investment in two ways: copyright and under the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997 which created a “database right”.
A database will qualify for protection if the maker of the database is an EEA resident and the data is a “collection of individual works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way” and there had been a substantial investment in either the getting, checking or presenting of the contents of the database, utilising either financial, human or technical resources. This is distinct from copyright which seeks to protect the creativity in the contents of the database.
Like copyright, a database right is an automatic right which exists as soon as the database exists in a recorded form. Database rights last for either 15 years from the end of the year in which the making of the database was completed.
If your database qualifies for protection then you can enforce your rights against businesses that extract or reutilise a substantial part of your database, or alternatively repeatedly extract and re-utilise an insubstantial part without your permission
If your database is continually being updated and substantial investment is being input on a continual basis then it may be that the database right is continually being refreshed, affording a rolling right which can be enforced against infringers. You should keep records of changes made and any investment of resources into a database.
Your contracts of employment with employees should make it clear that the company owns the database. An employee who perhaps ‘steals’ the database when leaving the company will be breaching their post-employment restrictions (provided these are in the employment contract and are reasonable) as well as infringe your database rights if they utilise the database or repeatedly use extracts.
It is also important to mention that that if personal information is stored on a database, then the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998 must be complied with. Recruitment companies should register with the Information Commissioner as a data controller and ensure adequate consent is obtained from individuals whose data is to be held on the database.
If you require further information on database rights or data protection, please call us on 01273 236 236.