In Europe, the protection of databases has been harmonised by Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases. The EC Directive defines a database as "a collection of independent works, data or other materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way and individually accessible by electronic or other means." The content may be protected by copyright and/or by a sui generis right. The structure may be protected by copyright only. The aim of this Briefing Paper is to explain these principles in detail.