Web scraping is a complicated legal subject involving more than a dozen different laws. As such, it’s not possible to summarize all the legal issues associated with web scraping in just a few hundred words. That said, you can read the bolded sections here and the infographics in just a few minutes and learn the basics.
The good news for web scrapers is that the trend has been toward greater permissiveness with web scraping. The bad news is that the trend is not uniform across legal jurisdictions, and the overall history of web-scraping litigation has not been kind to scrapers.
There are a few websites online that purport to answer the question of “whether web scraping is legal.” And way too many of those websites, with unwavering confidence and a complete absence of caution, provide clear and concise answers to that question that are laughably and dangerously false.
But a web scraper could follow that test and still violate dozens of state and federal laws—even potentially finding themselves in jail. The blog post would be certifiable legal malpractice—except it wasn’t written by a lawyer in the first place.