Is scraping legal in India?

Feb 20, 2024 ยท 2 min read

Web scraping, also known as web data extraction, refers to automatically collecting data from websites. This is commonly done by writing computer scripts to extract information from web pages. But is web scraping legal in India? Here's an overview of the legal landscape.

It Depends on Usage

Like many technologies, web scraping itself is not illegal. The legality depends on how the scraped data is used. Here are some guidelines:

  • Scraping public data for non-commercial research or personal use is generally allowed. For example, a student scraping product prices for a school project.
  • Scraping public data for commercial purposes may require a website's permission. For example, a price comparison site scraping e-commerce sites. Lack of permission could lead to lawsuits.
  • Scraping private user data without permission is illegal. For example, scraping social media profile info or email addresses.
  • Excessively scraping a site to copy substantial portions of content or data likely violates copyright laws.
  • Scraping techniques like Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that overload sites are illegal.
  • What Do Sites' Terms & Conditions Say?

    Most major websites prohibit scraping in their terms and conditions (T&Cs). For example:

    "You shall not copy/download or re-utilize any content from the website using automated means such as spiders, robots, crawlers, etc."

    While T&Cs are not laws, violating them could lead to lawsuits or blocks. Play safe by reviewing T&Cs before scraping.

    Other Legal Considerations

    Other laws around data protection, computer intrusion, terms of service, etc. may apply to web scraping activities. Consult a lawyer for project-specific advice.

    In summary, non-disruptive small-scale scraping of public data is generally allowed for personal use. Commercial scraping likely needs a site's permission as websites own their data. When in doubt, review a website's terms and conditions.

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