Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Why screen scraping is wrong

I've recieved a few emails following my recent post about screen scraping. Its my belief that nearly all websites that publish large amounts of data/information suffer from this at some point, so its not suprising its turned out to be a fairly popular subject.

Here's my thought about why sites need to stop this activity:

  • Any user that steals your content, your hard work, your thoughts or the information you own without your permission is commiting theft. If you are charging access (subscription model) or have revenue based on views (advertising model) then this is affecting your ability to make revenue. Some markets (e.g. travel) are affected more. Blockscraping.com say:
    ... it's not uncommon that over seven percent of the ticket sales of a low fare
    air line comes from scraper sites.
  • Once this content is saved somewhere else beyond your control, it can be out of date. Anyone accessing the 'scraped' information' and then coming to your site may get different information and therefore be dissappointed.

  • The scraping of content (particularly automated scraping by scripts & robots) adds additional load to your website. This may affect other users (e.g. the site may be slower for them) or cost you more (bandwidth, hosting, etc.).
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