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Are Databases Intellectual Property? A Common Misconception

Posted: 12-Aug-2016 10:11:26
Author: Siobhan Forster

laptop-data.jpgIT Group are instructed in several cases per year where the basis of a dispute revolves around data ‘theft’ from databases.

More often than not, the common misconception adopted by employees who leave a company is that; taking copies of data such as client contact details, or even backups of whole database contents including structure is all above board.

They aren’t taking a singular design document for a prototype that belongs to one specific designer, they are merely taking an impersonal collection of data that many employees contributed and inputted into. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong.

Are Databases Intellectual Property? 

In industries such as car sales or retail, employees are often not wise to the law. The top and bottom of it is; a database right is infringed if a person takes or re-utilises content without the owner's permission i.e. their employer.

When confronted about it, users often display genuine regret as they were not aware they were infact acting outside of the law. For some, it is a false sense of ownership - I created the document, I inputted into it and spent time collecting the data therefore there is no harm in me taking it.

Regrettably, in the other 20% of cases, there is found to be malicious intent which often leads to hefty settlement costs incurred by the data “thief”.

Other blogs on this topic:

Investigating Employee Theft: Curiosity Kills The Evidence

Q&A Roundtable: Cyber Security and Employee Risks

Investigating Employee Theft: Uncovering the Tracks

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