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Web Scraping Legal Issue: [Web Scraping Ethics 101]

Web Scraping Legal

Web Scraping Legal Issue

We all should know the web scraping legal issue. Although the Worldwide Web is considered a gigantic database of information like no other composed of interconnected data warehouses, computer systems, files, and servers that you can access by typing keywords, visiting addresses, and accessing passwords, that doesn’t give web scrapers (people who use the “free” information that’s publicly accessible through the Internet) the right to abuse this privilege. Just as there are ethical hackers, so too should there be web and screen scrapers. Just because a hacker can infiltrate multiple websites regardless of their security capabilities doesn’t mean that he should. Because a web scraper can scrape data from a multitude of servers without any regard to the owners of the content doesn’t mean that he should either.

The Internet Is a Treasure Trove of Information but You Should Be Responsible in Using It

Even though the Internet is a treasure trove of information filled with statistics, facts, articles, forums, websites, user-generated content, photos, pictures, infographics, and so forth covering a wide array of subjects and topics, that doesn’t mean that you should treat that information as gold to be mined that’s all yours. For example, there’s the issue of plagiarism to be considered. You shouldn’t take the words and content of other websites wholesale and publish them as your own without permission or at least citing where you got that material. The Internet is a valuable information resource, but that does not justify stealing intellectual property that’s not yours and falsely claiming that it is.

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Mining data should be done via ethical means as well. That means you should not use dangerous bots, viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware, or other harmful malware without regard to how it’s affecting the people you’re scraping information from. When it comes to web data extraction, web fetching, screen capping, or what have you, they’re quite the beneficial methods of bolstering your ad campaigns or even improving your marketing position in relation to the positions of the competitors you’ve “spied” on. Startups can even use the info they’ve extracted from the web to create their own market niche and establish their own companies. The info you can get from web scraping is too useful to take for granted.

Controversial Uses of Web Scraping Data Deemed Unethical

Thanks to web-scraped data, businesses can improve their production in light of what their competition is doing. It can also discover what present trends are currently “hot” in a given market. Investors, in particular, depend on this method to get the most recent data possible. However, since knowledge is power, it comes with great responsibility. Many websites have been marked as spam by Google thanks to duplicate content harvested by web scrapers. Plagiarism can sabotage the trustworthiness of your own site and bring Google SERP problems to the site you’re “stealing” from.

Abusive scrapers can cause unintentional click bombing incidents to happen. Long story short, websites can make money per visitor via PPC or pay-per-click ads. Certain careless web scrapers may invade sites they’re attempting to farm information from, causing the advertisers of PPC ads to disable them due to suspicious activity (if the clicks to an ad comes too soon or are too uniform, advertisers can disable them to keep them from paying for ad revenue taken through fraudulent means).

6 Comments

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