Is Web Scraping Legal?

5/5 - (5 votes)

πŸ‘©β€βš–οΈ Disclaimer: I’m a coder, not a legal advisor or professional. In this article, I merely present my own judgment and research on the topic. But this is not legal advice!

Legal Opinion 1: Web Scraping is Legal [Apify]

“Web scraping is legal if you scrape data publicly available on the internet. But you should avoid scraping personal data or intellectual property.”

They even provide a great visual overview of the four most common myths:

Feel free to read more at the original article here:

Legal Opinion 2: Web Scraping is Not Illegal [Imperva]

So is it legal or illegal? Web scraping and crawling aren’t illegal by themselves. After all, you could scrape or crawl your own website, without a hitch. Startups love it because it’s a cheap and powerful way to gather data without the need for partnerships.Imperva

Given that large multi-billion dollar companies such as Google, Facebook, or Amazon scrape and crawl large amounts of websites constantly to automate their service provisioning (e.g., displaying search results), it would be surprising if it would be illegal, wouldn’t it?

Legal Opinion 3: Scraping Public Data is Legal [TechCrunch]

Good news for archivists, academics, researchers and journalists: Scraping publicly accessible data is legal, according to a U.S. appeals court ruling.TechCrunch

So, this applies to US citizens and corporations under US law. Many countries will use this as a basis of their own decision making.

πŸ›‘ But be careful: US laws don’t necessarily apply to the country you reside in!

(No shit, Sherlock!)

Speaking of different non-US countries…

Legal Opinion 4: Web Scraping is Legal in India [StartupTalky]

Yes, web scraping is legal as Big MNC companies in some countries including India use web scrapers for their own gain but also don’t want others to use bots against them.StartupTalky

While it may be legal to scrape data from websites, you need to be super careful with copyright laws because publishing other people’s textual creations is not legal in most countries. You can overcome this by providing a proper reference like I did in the previous paragraph. 😊

… But You Can Get Blocked for Web Scraping πŸ›‘

Organizations can, of course, block your IP address if you try to scrape too much.

For example, issuing 1000 automatic requests per second will most certainly block your IP address.

Blocking you is their fair right if you spam their servers with automatic web requests!

It also doesn’t help if you rent an AWS server to run your Python web scraping program from Amazon’s cloud infrastructure. Your virtual machine has a fixed IP address as well and the firewalls and DDoS protection mechanisms from the websites you’re trying to scrape will just block the IP from which the spam requests originate.

Therefore, it helps to scrape data slowly and carefully. No more than a couple of requests per minute!