Databases are protected by law (Directive 96/9/EC of 11 March 1996 and Belgian Law of 31 August 1998).
The maker of the database has a property right if there has been a substantial investment – in terms of quality or quantity or a combination of both – in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database.
The maker of the database can oppose:
- the extraction or re-utilisation of all or a substantial part of the contents of the database in terms of quality or quantity or a combination of both; and
- repeated extraction or re-utilisation of insubstantial parts of the content of the database if these acts are incompatible with normal use of the database or if these acts cause unjustified damage to the rightful interests of the maker of the database.
Database rights expire 15 years after the 1st of January of the year following the date of completion of the database. If the database is made available to the public before the end of the aforementioned period, this right shall expire 15 years after the 1st of January of the year following the date when the database was made available to the public.
A simple update of the database will not initiate new copyright protection however a substantial modification of the database, whether quantitively or qualitatively, will start new copyright protection of 15 years under the Belgian Law.