Wednesday, November 10, 2004Contact: Maurits Bruggink
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European Court rules on database rights on racing data

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on 9 November in the case BHB vs. William Hill. The case was brought to the ECJ in 2002 and deals with a dispute between BHB and William Hill over the right to use racing data.

UK bookmaker William Hill used racing data on its betting websites that it compiled from newspapers and an authorized subscription service. The BHB believes that the use in question of data is unauthorized and should be subject to a license.

The case should be considered in a European Union's context, as the EU is the only jurisdiction with a specific law on databases. Most other parts of the world interpret copyrights to protect databases.

The ECJ makes a distinction between the creation of the data and the creation of the database. It rules that the creation of the data is not subject to database protection according to EU database law, but only the creation of the database.

The ECJ rules that the information used by William Hill is not sufficiently substantial to constitute an infringement of BHB’s database rights. The information covers: names of all the horses running in a race, the date, time and/or name of the race and the name of the racecourse.

According to EU database rights, the re-use of data (for example on a betting website) that has been made accessible, as a whole or in part, to the public, still requires the authorization of the creator of the database.

BHB Chairman Martin Broughton comments: “Our legal advice is clear that the ECJ’s interpretation of the law is favourable to BHB. However, the ECJ’s application of that interpretation to the facts relating to the BHB database, as it sees them, is inconsistent with that ruling. BHB will make this case strongly to the Court of Appeal."

The ECJ ruling will have to be interpreted by the national Court of Appeal, which will give a final verdict. More comments can be found at:

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