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Monday, October 27, 1997

Data is Big Business

Laura D’Andrea Tyson

“The issue of computer database protection goes well beyond theoretical debate. Databases are a multi billion-dollar industry in the United States. The estimated sales revenue of the various categories of the U.S. database industry range from $ 4.5 billion to $ 200 billion. These categories include: publishing industry and related services, newspapers, books and magazines, data processing and network services, business information supplier, data processing and preparation, electronic information industry, database revenues of business information, electronic information services, electronic delivery of business information (primarily online and CD-ROM), information retrieval services and commercial nonphysical research. Computer databases and other compilations of factual material are an integral part of the American economy. From medical journal articles to nationwide court rulings, electronic databases organize, aggregate and update what is often public information. Yet today, when commercially valuable data of scientific or financial importance are made available in electronic form, they also become available for rapid, inexpensive copying and manipulation. Intellectual property is being flooded and drowned by a tsunami of new technology. Copying and transmitting data is becoming too easy for the law to protect anyone's private ownership. The proliferation of the Internet and CD-ROM technology aggravates this problem. While this facilitates value-adding uses from one perspective, it also undermines the database provider's ability to recover costs, much less to generate a profit.”

Hearings on HR 2652 (1997)

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