Is Web Scraping Legal?

Tons and tons of content available over Internet on various different topics. For example, news, entertainment, science and technology, education. You name it and you have it there. All the data is not available to use directly into applications as all are formatted differently on their websites and most of the websites do not provide any API or a framework to extract the data in a structured way.

What is Web Scraping?

Web scraping is a technique using which you will extract data from different websites and convert it into a format to be used in your own application automatically or using crawlers or bots. There are different tools available to scrape the data from the Internet but that is a topic for another blog. In this article we will discuss whether scraping data from other websites is legal or not?

Is scraping legal?

Most of the content available on Intenet are for public use. Mean to say, you can browse or read the content without paying any fees. But there are some restrictions on using the content. If you are using the content for your private use, for example, you print the content related to some topic of your subject and want to keep it for yourself for further reference. Below are some of the points that you need to consider before scraping a website. It also depends on the purpose for scraping the content.

  1. Read the terms and conditions carefully on the website
  2. Is the content copyright. Means, is it somebody’s research or own invention
  3. Always honor robots.txt. What is robots.txt? It defines which links are allowed for the crawlers to scrape based on user agent. You will fine three keys, user-agent, Allow and Disallow.
    1. User-agent – Specifies the which crawler is allowed to what pages.
    2. Allow – allow only the pages that listed with this keyword
    3. Disallow – Don’t allow these pages to scrape
  4. Don’t republish other’s content on your name
  5. If you are summarizing the content provide a link to the original article or content
  6. Your activity of scraping should not bring the site down by pumping traffic

Disclaimer: The points discussed above are general guidelines and should not be considered as a legal advice in any respect.

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