Will Tovey's blog

Thoughts on 'Your Response v Datateam Business Media': Databases, information and property

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A Court of Appeal case has come close to accepting information, such as a database, as property. The consequences of such a ruling, overturning decades of precedent, would be vast - giving individuals ownership rights over thoughts and ideas.

Judgment available here: Your Response Ltd v Datateam Business Media Ltd [2014] EWCA Civ 281This case concerned a Publisher (Datateam) and a Data Manager (Your Response). The Publisher had contracted with the Data Manager to run their subscriber database. The Published ended the contract and a dispute arose as the Data Manager refused to hand over the database until it had been paid and the Publisher refused to pay until it had the database.

The main issue the Court of Appeal had to decide on was whether YR could exercise a common law possessory lien over the database. This is an old contractual remedy whereby someone (originally an artificer) who was in possession of goods in order to carry out some work relating to them was entitled to keep them if they were not paid for their work (or until they were paid).