What is the Pinterests database schema

Series of the IT law firm: German copyright law after its amendment from an IT law perspective (Part 5: Protection of databases)

The numerous changes to the copyright law that were enacted after the amendment to copyright law (second basket) that came into force on January 1, 2008, prompted the IT law firm to revise and republish this series. All authors, exploiters and users of digital works are particularly affected by the changes in the law. The need for education is still great. With the new series, the IT law firm wants to present copyright and changes, especially from an IT legal perspective. * The following article (part 5) deals with the copyright protection of databases. *

I. Term

Databases are a collection of electronically stored data that can be queried using a computer. The data structures and data contained in the databases are not computer programs within the meaning of Section 69a UrhG, as the data and structures themselves do not have any control commands. The demarcation is often not easy. The query elements contained in database manipulation languages ​​are often written with programs that are similar to conventional computer languages ​​within the meaning of Section 69a UrhG and are therefore considered computer programs. The database management system required to operate the database can also be viewed as a computer program within the meaning of Section 69a UrhG.

II. Protectability

The copyright law distinguishes between Database works which are based on a personal intellectual creation in the selection or arrangement of the elements, and so-called simple databases, for which only a short performance protection according to § 4 UrhG and §§ 87a ff. UrhG exists.

1. Database work

1.1 Concept

As a database work within the meaning of Section 4 (2) UrhG, the law defines a collective work whose elements are systematically or methodically arranged and individually with help electronic medium or in some other way are accessible. The computer programs used to create them are not part of databases.

The prerequisite for the acceptance of a database work is that the database in the selection or arrangement of its individual elements represents a personal intellectual creation and thus an individual achievement. The individuality is evident in the selection and arrangement of the data. This does not have to be extraordinary or ingenious, but must be different from the arrangement criteria that are imposing on everyone.

Example for database works:

  • Website with extensive, organized content including a search function
  • Medical lexicon available on the Internet

Example of collections that do not qualify as database works:

Purely manual, schematic or routine selection or arrangement in digital form of

  • Mailing lists
  • Broadcast programs
  • Telephone books

1.2 Subject matter of protection

The subject of protection of databases is the structure of the database, but not its content. This content is protected if it is of a quality that is relevant in terms of copyright.

1.3 Exploitation rights to databases

The Exploitation rights result from §§ 15 ff. UrhG and Not from § 69c UrhG. The use therefore requires the consent of the author or database manufacturer. This Right of use at database works is also License mentioned (* see article: Granting of usage rights to software *).

1.4 Limitations of copyright protection to database works

The catalog of restrictions in accordance with §§ 44a ff. UrhG (* see article: Limits of Copyright *) applies to database works.

1.5 Duration of Rights

The rights to database works expire like all other works protected by copyright according to § 64 UrhG * seventy years * after the death of the author.

2. Simple database

2.1 Concept

A simple database is a according to § 87a UrhG collection of works, data or other independent elements which are arranged systematically or methodically and which are individually accessible by electronic means or in some other way and whose procurement, review or representation is of a type or scope substantial investment requires. A personal spiritual creation is * not * required here. The protection threshold is therefore comparatively low. "Substantial investment" only means that very insignificant expenses in the form of so-called "Everyday investments" in small databases are not sufficient.

Example for databases:


  • Club register,
  • Trade and shipping registers,
  • Land register,
  • Collections of satellite images,
  • Telephone books.

2.2 Subject matter of protection

The subject of protection is total the information gathered in the database, but not its structure or the information as such. So the protection is aimed at the Investment by the database manufacturer and on the recovery of the database as a whole.

2.3 Rights of the database manufacturer

According to § 87b UrhG, the database manufacturer has the exclusive right to use the database in its entirety or in terms of type or scope essential part the database

  • to reproduce,
  • to spread,
  • publicly reproduce.

According to § 87b Abs. 1 S. 2 UrhG, this also applies to insignificant parts of the database in the case of actions of use that take place systematically and furthermore run counter to normal evaluation of the database or unreasonably impair the legitimate interests of the database manufacturer.
The distribution right is exhausted according to § 17 UrhG (see article: Exhaustion principle)

2.4 Limits to the right of the database producer

According to § 87c UrhG there is a catalog of limitations of copyright law that deviates from § 44a UrhG for the rights of the database manufacturer.

Accordingly, the reproduction of a substantial part of a database is permitted

  • for private use; this does not apply to a database, the elements of which are individually accessible by electronic means,
  • for one's own scientific use, if and to the extent that reproduction is required for this purpose and the scientific use is not for commercial purposes,
  • for use to illustrate lessons, unless it is for commercial purposes.

2.5 Duration of Rights

According to § 87d UrhG, the rights of the database manufacturer expire fifteen years after the database was published. If the database is not published, the rights expire fifteen years after production.

(Excerpts from the text were also published in the IT-Rechts-Lexikon 2010)

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