Is it illegal to scrape other website's data, process and sell it back in a composed format?


There are these websites that have raw data feed going on. I'm scraping those data, process them and present in a digest-able format to user, and charge users for viewing it.

What will actually happen is the user will go to a certain page from a website that I don't own, click the bookmarklet that I provide, which will inject a script to scrape data, process open up a popup or a floating modal window right in that page and display processed data.

Is that OK or not?


asked Oct 11 '11 at 16:49
Moe Sweet
141 points
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3 Answers


It depends on the terms and conditions of each individual site, as scraping may be called out as a forbidden activity. It sounds like you are providing a data manipulation tool rather than a tradtional scrapper (scrappers normally run automatically from one or more machines and pull the data to a central place) as your requests are orginating from the distinct IP of the user which will receive the data. If the extractor actually requests from your server IP rather from the users machine you will likely be spotted and have your IP address banned.

If the site owner does not specifically forbid data extraction in the ts and cs, you should be ok, but be wary of how much data you pull as anyone who pays attention to data usage on a site might change the format of getting at the data.

answered Oct 11 '11 at 17:01
Lloyd S
1,292 points
  • Data won't be pulled from a server. In-fact the users will run my script right on their page pulling client-to-client on the fly. And only from that client, it will upload to my server. – Moe Sweet 12 years ago
  • Even if there are not terms of service, you are not ok because the default is that everything is copyrighted. Which by definition means it can't be copied. But it really depends on where the data is coming from. – Alain Raynaud 12 years ago
  • @AlainRaynaud: I don't think that's quite right. Yes, copyright is the default. But there's at least some sort of implied licence for every public webpage, because visitors need to copy the site simply to view it on their computers. How broad is that implied licence? As far as I know that's an open question in the US. – Zopa 12 years ago


What you have described (a) likely will constitute copyright infringement in many instances and (b) may violate terms of service in some instances, so the answer is "No, it's not [legally] OK."

Disclaimer: This information does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

answered Oct 12 '11 at 01:16
Dana Shultz
6,015 points


This idea sounds similar to Instapaper. According to their privacy policy, Instapaper works with the publishers of the content they scrape to provide information about how people use the product to interact with the publisher's site. You would probably want to talk to a lawyer about this, but to me the Instapaper example indicates that there are legal ways to do this.

answered Oct 12 '11 at 07:39
383 points

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