Nice post by Masnick on a growing resistance in Europe to database rights: EU Court Ruling Saying Sports Schedules May Not Covered By Copyright Pushes Back On Dangerous Database Copyrights. The US years ago rejected the sweat of the brow doctrine and thus made it harder to use copyright for mere collections of information like phone books, maps, and the like.
See also Peter Klein’s post Can Prices be Owned?, where I made the following comment:
My personal view is obvious here–prices are not scarce resources, but just facts, or information about facts; they of course are not property. (See my Against Intellectual Property article for elaboration.)
As to what the law actually is … I think it would be governed by cases like the Feist case, which said there is no copyright in mere collections of data, like a map… since it’s not original. It’s just facts. The Court said that the old idea of “sweat of the brow” is not enough. Just because you put work into assembling the information does not mean it’s original. This is why Congress tried to pass a database rights act a few years back, but never did.
For more on Feist see the Wikipedia entry.