Published on February 24th, 2020 | by Bibhuranjan


Web Scraping: Is It Illegal To Scrape A Website?

If you are thinking of scraping a website, but you are not sure if legal actions will be taken against you for using a service like diffbot or similar. Don’t worry, you are not the only one who isn’t sure whether data scraping is legal or not.

The answer to this frequently asked question is not a simple yes and no. This article explains everything about the legality of web scraping.

Is Web scraping an illegal act?

Web scraping is illegal, but that is if you use it unethically. Data scraping can be used for the good stuff and bad stuff as well. The process itself is not illegal. In fact, scraper and web crawlers were historically associated with popular search engines like Bing and Google. They crawl sites and index websites. These search engines built trust and drove traffic and visibility to the websites they crawled, so their bots created a good view for web scraping.

What you want to do with the data you plan to extract from the website will determine whether the data scraping is legal or not. The data most websites display is for the public. Copying this public data is not a crime, but how you want to use it is what you have to be careful about. If you download the data online for your own personal use, then you are safe, but if you use it on your website without the consent of the original owner, it is illegal and the owner can take legal actions against you.

Also, because web scrapers can read and scrape data from websites faster than humans, you should take care when extracting data with software so that the process does not affect the performance of the website in any way. Many web servers will block your IP automatically and you won’t be able to access the website again.

When you scrape data that is not public, it is an illegal act. Non-public data is not reachable for everyone on the web. If you have to log in to have access to this data, data scraping is illegal. Also, how you are technically scraping the website matters a lot.

All websites have their “Terms of use” and copyright details, which you can find on the website. The users of scrapers should respect the website terms of use and copyright statements if they want to scrape a website.

How to recognize if data online is considered available to the public?

· The website owner who posted the data has decided to make the website data public.

· The person who wants to scrape does not need to create an account or login before he or she can access the data.

· The robots.txt of the website does not block web scrapers or crawlers.

The bottom line on if web scraping is legal

He questions here is not whether you should or should not scrape data because data scraping is inevitable. There is a no faster and more efficient way to extract the data you need for your business. The main question is how do you scrape web data without legal trouble?

All you have to do to avoid inviting legal troubles is to maintain a fine balance between the tendency to scrape data from a website under all circumstances and respecting the website’s norms.

If you disregard the rules and norms hat the web page has laid down in different places, you might have to face legal troubles. However, if you scrape data from a website in a smart way and you don’t harm the website, then you won’t have to face any legal issues.

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About the Author

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Editorial Officer, I'm an avid tech enthusiast at heart. I like to mug up on new and exciting developments on science and tech and have a deep love for PC gaming. Other hobbies include writing blog posts, music and DIY projects.

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