ECJ Rules on BHB v Will Hills Database Dispute
By philip
The European Court of Justice has delivered its judgment on the protracted legal battle between the British Horseracing and Board William Hill. The BHB accused Hills of infringing its database rights when the bookmaker pasted BHB compiled data on its website. The ECJ, however, has overruled the English High and Court of Appeal in stating that no such infringement occurred.

“The ECJ appear to have accepted that the BHB's central database falls within the criteria for protection by the Database Rights Directive, explained a spokesman for Olswang, a firm of solicitors who specializing in gaming law, ‘however, it has called into question whether William Hill's activities amount to an infringement of those rights.’

To infringe the database right,’ he continued, ‘a person must extract or re-utilize a substantial part of the database. The ECJ looked at the data William Hill had published on its website, namely the date, time, place and name of the races, with the list of runners and riders. Since the BHB obtained this information in the course of its regulatory and administrative duties, the money spent constituted investment in the creation of the information, rather than in a database. In addition, since the verification of this data took place at the time of creation, and not at a subsequent stage, the cost of the verification exercise also related to the creation of the data, and not to the creation of a database. The ECJ held that since the data extracted and re-utilised by William Hill had not required substantial investment by the BHB independent of the costs of creating the data, the data did not constitute a substantial part of the contents of the database.’

There is concern that the ruling may have a detrimental effect on British horseracing; since the ECJ has effectively limited the scope of protection offered by the database right, the BHB will find it increasingly difficult to collect income from bookmakers and fund the sport in the future.

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