A new industry has begun to blossom with the emergence of web scraping services, which use specialized tools and systems to extract data from online websites. These businesses look to potential clients who might want to build a new product website, directory or database-driven site, such as massive lists of real estate properties, hotels, business directories, and so on.
But here’s the rub. The proliferation of web scraping services has brought increased attention to what are many instances of effective industrial espionage. Web scraping services that scrape proprietorial data are in danger of being sued, and there are now precedents that point the way to illegality and conviction.
Recent court cases involving insurance companies, real estate sites, Ryanair, the Royal Mail in England and the National Gallery for copying of its digital images have brought some of these web scraping services to ruin. Let the buyer beware!