Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Web Scraping for Me, But Not for Thee

Kieran McCarthy (via Dare Obasanjo):

Some of the biggest companies on earth—including Meta and Microsoft—take aggressive, litigious approaches to prohibiting web scraping on their own properties, while taking liberal approaches to scraping data on other companies’ properties. When we talk about web scraping, what we’re really talking about is data access. All the world’s knowledge is available for the taking on the Internet, and web scraping is how companies acquire it at scale. But the question of who can access and use that data, and for what purposes, is a tricky legal question, which gets trickier the deeper you dig.


But make no mistake, these companies view this data, generated by their users on their platforms, as their property. This is true even though the law does not recognize that they have a property interest in it, and even though they expressly disclaim any property rights in that data in their terms of use.

Since the law does not give them a cognizable property interest in this data, they must resort to other legal theories to prevent others from taking it and using it.


3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

The tragedy of the commons was never that us plebs couldn't manage them. It was that rich people swooped in and raised walls.

Old Unix Geek

He doesn't blame companies for being hypocritical? Why on earth not?

The reason the West did well is that it is a high-trust society. Try to do business in low-trust societies, it's a lot harder.

No one should do business with hypocritical companies. Being untrustworthy should be a deal breaker.

In Japan, if your product is unsatisfactory, not only will the shop refund the customer and apologize profusely, but they will stop doing business with you because you shamed them. We need some level of that in the US too, since idiots who break trust get a short term advantage at the cost of externalizing mistrust to the whole of society.

Kristoffer Fredriksson

It's the same with the fraudulent in-app purchases market. There was a case in sweden where a girl spent about 10K USD in a FREE game aimed at kids. A lot of people reflexively said "The dad should have turned on parental controls"

It's always the individuals fault these days. We don't even consider how absurd it is that a low quality game can have IAP that amount to 10000USD in a couple of days. To me it's a clear case of fraud, and the devs should be thrown in jail.

As always, I blame capitalism.

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