This article looks at the question of the applicability of copyright law to the protection of databases. It features a detailed discussion of the EU Database Directive, which is the only comparable legal framework for the protection of databases. It then discusses some problems that the EU Directive encounters vis-à-vis public interest concerns, and outline why the EU Directive is unable to strike the right balance, both in principle and in practice. Next, it briefly studies database protection law as it exists in the United States, Australia, Canada and finally India, following which the need for protection of databases in India is assessed. Finally, a basic alternative framework for the legal protection of databases is proposed, seeking to balance the interests of database generators and those of the public at large. The authors argue that databases should be protected with reference to principles of the law of unfair competition, which recognizes that a balance needs to be struck between the interests of owners and the public. The authors also suggest the registration of databases with a governmental authority (similar to the trademark registration process) so as to properly delineate the scope of commercial exploitation that the database owner intends. Further, an argument is made for compulsory licensing provisions.

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