Monday, July 18, 2005

William Hill v BHB

A VUNet report on Friday last suggests that William Hill's victory in its long running dispute with the British Horseracing Board (BHB) means that publicly available information cannot be locked away in commercial databases to the extent that critics of the EU database directive have often argued.

Article 7(1) of the directive says "Member States shall provide for a right for the maker of a database which shows that there has been qualitatively and/or quantitatively a substantial investment in either the obtaining, verification or presentation of the contents to prevent extraction and/or re-utilization of the whole or of a substantial part, evaluated qualitatively and/or quantitatively, of the contents of that database."

The case had been referred back to the UK Court of Appeal by the European Court of Justice, which has said that in relation to the BHB database (italics mine),

"The resources used to draw up a list of horses in a race and to carry out checks in that connection do not constitute investment in the obtaining and verification of the contents of the database in which that list appears."

The UK Appeal Court, though clearly sympathetic to the BHB cause, conclude that clinches the case for William Hill. It will be interesting to see how this affects future database disputes.

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