Legal Issues concerning Web Scraping

Copyright issue is one of the many issues that may bother web scrapers.

Is it legal to do web scraping?

That depends on what you scrape and how you use scraped material. We are not legally oriented so for accountable legal advice please seek an attorney. Before that, we may give you a rough idea of what's the right thing to do, please just fire us a contact ticket.

Many big web companies / university institutes scrape for content / data by advice of law consultancy.

Some scraping activities do arouse legal issues.

Actually, many amateur scrapers do it in an illegal way, such as scraping copyrighted articles or private data that's restricted from being distributed. Even paragraphs or just a few lines of them can make you qualified for a court summons or DMCA penalty by Google.

However, scraping and keeping the data for private personal uses only, you might be absolved of any copyright guilt.

So I'll keep away from copyright infringements, big deal!

Even if you are innocent of copyright infringements by scraping only non-copyrighted / public domain works, you may still be held liable for committing trespass to chattels.

What is safe to scrape then? I don't want any trouble.

With straight facts that cannot be copyrighted, web scraping of such content is legal in the vast majority of cases as long as the data is broken down in atmoic pieces and not in the original arrangement. For instance, business information directory may be copyrighted as a database but not so as broken pieces because they are straight facts.

Other than that, public domain works and non-copyrighted material (such as works by people who have been dead for more than 70 years and those released by the government) can be scraped and used legally in any way possible.


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