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Scraping away profits

Stacy Collett | Oct. 2, 2015
At technology company Graphiq, web-scraping bots were becoming more than just a nuisance. They were impacting its bottom line.

Legal protection

Scrapers and botnet users are extremely hard to find and prosecute, security experts say. Still, companies have to lay the groundwork for legal action by clearly stating in their website’s terms and conditions of use that web scraping or automated cataloging is prohibited, Overly says.

The second line of a legal defense is copyright law. When scrapers make off with material on a site, they are infringing on that copyright. Website owners don’t even have to prove that scraping led to any real harm, Overly says. “They can simply show that it was intentional, and they get mandated damages from the copyright act, which can be very substantial.“

Today, Graphiq “rarely if ever” has its data stolen by web scrapers, Bercovich says, but they’ll never be able to eliminate botnet attempts. “You can only detect and block them so they don’t get your content,” he says. “The more effectively you can do that, the more understanding and good reporting that you have, the more quickly you can act.”


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