Joe Walsh from Own-it writes:
Copyright protects original literary works such as databases (that is a collection of independent works, data or other materials which are arranged in a systematic or methodical way). In theory, playlists may fall within the definition of a database and thus qualify for copyright protection so long as they are original. A database “is original if, and only if, by reason of the selection or arrangement of the contents of the database the database constitutes the author’s own intellectual creation”.
However, Recital 19 of the Database Directive appears to rule out the possibility of playlists qualifying for copyright protection. It states that:
‘…as a rule, the compilation of several recordings of musical performances on a CD does not come within the scope of this Directive, both because, as a compilation, it does not meet the conditions for copyright protection and because it does not represent a substantial enough investment to be eligible under the [database] right’.
The use of the phrase ‘as a rule’ means that in general a compilation of music tracks will not qualify. That doesn’t mean to say that the selection and arrangement of a playlist will never be considered original enough to qualify for copyright protection, just that a very great creative contribution from the author is necessary. Potentially this would rule out an assemblance of all the number one hits in a given year, for example, from being protected as there will not be that many to choose from. But in contrast, this may leave the door open for a compilation of tracks based on a specific genre to be protected assuming that the author has exerted a sufficient level of creativity in choosing the tracks. Source: Ministry of Sound Sues Spotify – Own-it.