Databases and Dynamism

In his article, “Databases and Dynamism,” Michal Shur-Ofry writes: “By highlighting the dynamic dimension of databases, this article calls for a more cautious and conscious approach toward copyright protection of selections and arrangements.  It further hopes to form a starting point for further discussion that will shift at least part of the focus of the copyright-databases debate from access to information to selection and arrangement”

Databases and Dynamism
Author: Michal Shur-Ofry
44 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 315 (2011)


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 copyright-databases 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.

Databases and Dynamism
Author: Michal Shur-Ofry
44 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 315 (2011)



This entry was posted in Databases and tagged , by Erika Wayne. Bookmark the permalink.

About Erika Wayne

Erika V. Wayne is deputy library director and lecturer in law at Stanford Law School. Along with George Wilson, Kate Wilko and Paul Lomio, Erika Wayne has co-taught Advanced Legal Research for 3 years. Erika's interest in Open Access dates back to the 1996 when she helped in the development of the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse -- the first court designated internet site for public posting of securities litigation filings. And, she hates to pay for *anything* that should be free. She has a law degree from Penn and a library degree from Illinois.

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