A list of the EU's intellectual property directives, including the Database Protection Directive, 96/9/EC, is available online at: www.europa.eu.int/comm/

The blessings of an increasingly advanced digital world are many: faster data processing, massive data storage. But with these newfound capabilities come new questions about ownership. Who owns the mountains of data contained in databases--whether stock prices, real estate values, or countless genome sequences? What intellectual property rights do database creators have? And how much protection is too much? In recent years, a European Union (EU) database directive has brought a sense of urgency to such issues--and some scientists fear that the law has gone too far.

As part of efforts to ease transfer of goods and services within Europe, the European Union has been attempting to harmonize the laws of the very diverse European nation states. EU directives are to be made into law by individual EU countries...

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