Web scraping, also known as web harvesting or web data extraction, refers to the process of extracting data from websites. It involves using specialized software to automatically extract data from the web and can be used for a variety of purposes, such as price comparison, market research, or creating a database of information.
The legality of web scraping can be a complex issue, as it can potentially infringe on the rights of the website owner. In general, it is legal to scrape publicly available data, but there are some important exceptions to consider.
One example of a case ruling on web scraping is the case of HiQ Labs, Inc. v. LinkedIn Corp., where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that LinkedIn could not use the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) to prevent HiQ Labs from scraping data from its public profiles. The court ruled that the data on LinkedIn's public profiles was not protected by the CFAA, and that HiQ Labs was allowed to scrape it for its own use.
Another example is the case of eBay Inc. v. Bidder's Edge, Inc., where eBay sued Bidder's Edge for scraping data from its website without permission. The court ruled in favor of eBay, finding that Bidder's Edge had violated eBay's terms of service by scraping the website without permission.
These cases illustrate that, in general, it is legal to scrape publicly available data, but that scraping data from a website without the owner's permission can be a violation of the website's terms of service and may result in legal action.
It is important to note that web scraping can also raise privacy concerns, as it involves collecting potentially sensitive data from individuals. In some cases, the collection and use of this data may be subject to additional legal restrictions, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.
In conclusion, the legality of web scraping can be complex and depends on a variety of factors. In general, it is legal to scrape publicly available data, but scraping data from a website without the owner's permission can violate the website's terms of service and may result in legal action. Additionally, the collection and use of data obtained through web scraping may be subject to additional legal restrictions, such as privacy laws.