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Web Scraping is Legal, U.S. Appeals Court Reaffirms

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Using a “gate-up, gate-down” analogy, the Supreme Court said that when a computer or website’s gates are up—and therefore information is publicly accessible—no authorization is required.

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Good news for archivists, academics, researchers and journalists: Scraping publicly accessible data is legal, according to a U.S. appeals court ruling.

The landmark ruling by the U.S. Ninth Circuit of Appeals is the latest in a long-running legal battle brought by LinkedIn aimed at stopping a rival company from web scraping personal information from users' public profiles. The case reached the U.S. Supreme Court last year but was sent back to the Ninth Circuit for the original appeals court to re-review the case.

In its second ruling on Monday, the Ninth Circuit reaffirmed its original decision and found that scraping data that is publicly accessible on the internet is not a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, or CFAA, which governs what constitutes computer hacking under U.S. law.

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