protection.3 These three developments have resulted in a perceived increased vulnerability of databases to misappropriation and to a new European legal regime that has been alleged to place U.S. database rights holders at a competitive disadvantage in Europe.4 It is the last factor that appears to concern private-sector scientific and technical (S&T) database producers and vendors the most, based on input received at the committee's January 1999 workshop. Nevertheless, it is important to note that all other laws protecting foreign rights holders in the European Union remain independently applicable to them under the national treatment clause of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement)5 and related conventions.

This chapter briefly describes the law and policy governing U.S. government databases; the existing legal, technical, and market-based measures that are available to protect private-sector databases in the United States; and the new E.U. Database Directive.

ACCESS TO U.S. GOVERNMENT-FUNDED SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL DATA

The U.S. government is the world's largest creator, user, and disseminator of data and information, including the federal records and S&T databases that are considered highly valuable national assets. A basic principle underlying most U.S. information law is that democracy thrives and the economic and social benefits of information are maximized in society by fostering wide diversity in the creation, dissemination, and use of information.6 By extension, to gain the greatest economic and social benefits from government information assets, such information should be made available to all in the most efficient, timely, and equitable ways possible. U.S. laws and policies generally implement this proposition. In direct contrast to those laws that encourage protection of the proprietary rights of private-sector entities, U.S. domestic information policy at the federal level may be summarized as one comprising "a strong freedom of infor

3  

E.U. Database Directive (1996), note 2, Recital 56.

4  

See testimony of Henry Horbaczewski, Reed Elsevier, Inc., on behalf of the Coalition Against Database Piracy in June 15, 1999, hearing on H.R. 1858, the Consumer and Investor Access to Information Act of 1999, before the House Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications, Trade, and Consumer Protection, U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Congress, Washington, D.C.

5  

See Final Act Embodying the Results for the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations, done at Marrakesh, Morocco, April 15, 1994, reprinted in The Results of the Uruguay, Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations: The Legal Texts 2-3 (GATT Secretariat ed., 1994); Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization, Annex 1C: Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, Apr. 15, 1994. The TRIPS Agreement holds all member states of the World Trade Organization to a common set of intellectual property norms.

6  

44 U.S.C., section 3506(d)(1)(A) (Supp. 1995).



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