Is scraping illegal? This is a question you can find on many forums and a question that is very important to us at ScrapeSentry. One could claim that scraping data from a public website isn’t really “stealing”, but that it is simply exploiting resources that are made available for you.
Legislation varies from country to country, and because of this you have to be aware of international differences when it comes to scraping.
In January 2015, the European Court of Justice held that where a website operator cannot establish intellectual property rights on its database, they could still rely on its website terms and conditions to prevent scraping.
While it is not only a question of prohibiting scraping in a websites terms and conditions; you also needs to make sure that those terms and conditions are met.
Ideally, a website operator would require a user to accept the website terms and conditions before allowing access the website.
However, the majority of sites are hesitant to enforce this rule because it is not considered user-friendly. It is therefore more common to ensure that a link to the terms and conditions is displayed prominently on the site. However, there is no active acceptance, making the website owner unable to demonstrate that there is a contract in place with the user.
This ruling could impact companies whose business models rely on mining data from websites and social media platforms without permission. On the other hand, it will be viewed positively by data-rich businesses keen to protect their data.