Database Right 2021 UK Guidance

Sui generis database rights from 1 January 2021

This page tells you what you’ll need to do from 1 January 2021. It’ll be updated if anything changes.

You can also read about the transition period.


There are two types of intellectual property protection for databases: sui generis database rights (or just ‘database rights’) and copyright. Both are automatic, unregistered rights that allow the owner to control certain uses of their database.

Copyright protects the selection or arrangement of material in a database where this is original (i.e. creative). Database rights protect the contents of a database. A database does not have to be original for it to qualify for database rights, but there needs to have been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the data.

Database rights were introduced by the Database Directive. Eligible databases receive protection in all European Economic Area (EEA) member states. Only databases made by EEA nationals, residents or businesses are eligible.

The UK implemented the directive through the Copyright and Rights in Databases Regulations 1997.

Database rights from 1 January 2021

UK citizens, residents, and businesses will not be eligible to receive or hold database rights in the EEA for databases created on or after 1 January 2021.

UK owners of databases created on or after 1 January 2021 will need to consider whether they can rely on alternative means of protection in the EEA – for example licensing agreements or copyright, where applicable.

UK legislation will be amended so that only UK citizens, residents, and businesses are eligible for database rights in the UK for databases created on or after 1 January 2021.

Existing database rights

Database rights that exist in the UK or EEA before 1 January 2021 (whether held by UK or EEA persons or businesses) will continue to exist in the UK and EEA for the rest of their duration. These rights are guaranteed under the Withdrawal Agreement.

Those in the UK who wish to use databases protected by these rights will continue to need the permission of the right holder(s).

Copyright protection for databases in the UK and EEA will not change after 1 January 2021.

The UK and all EEA member states are members of international treaties on copyright that ensure eligible works (e.g. databases that are original) are protected in all treaty countries. This does not depend on the UK’s relationship with the EU or EEA.

Published 30 January 2020