Databases and Dynamism

Databases are generally perceived in legal scholarship as static warehouses, storing up valuable facts and information. Accordingly, scholarship on copyright protection of databases typically concentrates on the social need to access their content. This Article seeks to shift the focus of the debate, arguing that the copyrightdatabases debate is not merely a static “access to information” story. Instead, it is a dynamic story of relations, hierarchies, and interactions between pieces of information, determined by database creators. It is also a story of patterns, categories, selections, and taxonomies that are often invisible to the naked eye, but that influence our perceptions of the world in manners of which we are seldom aware. Relying on socio-psychological literature and communication theories concerning complexity, categorization, and stereotyping, this Article examines the dynamic dimension of databases. It argues that this narrative should direct legal attention toward the protection afforded by copyright not to contents of databases, but rather to their “selection and arrangement “-an element which has been largely ignored by legal scholarship. While the Article does not advocate a complete expiry of copyright in “selections and arrangements,” it does hope to spark a discussion with respect to their social and economic role, and add a new dimension to the copyright- database debate.