Friday, April 27, 2007

Is "web scrapping" legal?

Most of those fun webparts widgets gadgets use technology named "web scrapping" (an ability to "wrap off" content from web sites and display it within own layout). But not all of those gadgets provided by real content owners, most of them were developed by someone else. And almost no one of those developers has legal permissions for using and distributing content this way. So I have a question: "Is it legal?"

From one hand, such gadgets, as well as RSS feeds provide outstanding push for content distribution, so owners really love and support developers to use their content. From the other hand, if everything is accessible alternative way, why to visit owner's web site, so users will no see and click valuable ads there. So, is gadget - a good thing for content providers?

As you, probably, know, I was the first person is Israel, who fully implement EIP. It was about 8 years ago. Days, when Shay Agassi tried to sell me his TopTier, days when YNet asked for big bucks for their news content to be integrated into intranet portal (now they have free RSS)

Maybe, I'm bit outdated, but when 've published Israel Traffic Information gadget, I asked for fax permission of IBA to be sure about the legality of my stuff.

Today, I wrote another gadget, that display gas price information all over the US by using information provided by OPIS. I asked MSN legal guys about this and they did not understand what I'm talking about. "If it's public domain, use it, but be sure to provide link to the owner of the information" - they responded.

Am I odd fish? Maybe, but I'm still waiting for MS partner legality team to send me written authorization for using their partner information. When I'll get it, I'll sleep better with work I done.


1 comment:

Johnny Be Good said...

did you ever find an answer? I know a lot of sites say you can't in their EULA or robots.txt file, but and others have to be doing it... I have an app that does something similar and I too would love to know