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Competition issues on access to databases for the provision of directory information services in the EU

By Paul Richards

Abstract

This paper examines the impact of regulatory intervention in the pricing of access to directory information databases across the EU. Disputes over the terms of access have resulted in conflicting outcomes. Pricing solutions include: usage based pricing; a cost partition according to the number of records taken; pricing by the volume of sales to end-users; or simply free access to the database. The paper argues first, that databases have the essential characteristics of public goods which precludes unfettered competition in their provision. Secondly, there is no pricing solution which will simultaneously achieve economic efficiency, stimulate downstream competition, maintain reasonable intellectual property rights, and cover the costs of the provider of the database itself. Trade-offs therefore need to be made.Directory information services Core database Access pricing Intellectual property rights Effective competition

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