Does Amazon allow web scraping?

Feb 20, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Web scraping refers to extracting data from websites automatically through code. When done responsibly, it can be a useful technique for gathering public information at scale. However, many major websites like Amazon have terms of service that restrict scraping. Here's what you need to know about scraping Amazon.

What Amazon's Terms Allow

Amazon's conditions of use explicitly prohibit scraping without advance written approval:

So in most cases, scraping Amazon without permission is unfortunately against their policy.

When Web Scraping May Be Allowed

That said, there are certain limited exceptions where scraping public Amazon pages in a light, non-disruptive way may be permissible based on fair use principles. For example:

  • Gathering a small set of data for non-commercial research or personal use
  • Archiving portions of the site for preservation purposes
  • However, even in these cases proceeding with caution is wise.

    Best Practices for Responsible Web Scraping

    If you do wish to gather data from Amazon, consider these best practices:

  • Respect robots.txt: Check this file on Amazon's servers, which gives guidance on scraping
  • Make few, distributed requests: Spread out requests over time to prevent overload
  • Scrape only public pages: Do not try to access private user data or non-public APIs
  • Cache data when possible: Avoid hitting their servers repeatedly for the same data
  • Do not republish full copies: Only use portions of data for specific purposes
  • While Amazon's terms limit scraping, following responsible practices that avoid undue load can help avoid issues. As always, seeking legal guidance in your jurisdiction is also advised when web scraping.

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