Is Amazon Scraping Legal?
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Amazon has been around since 1995 and turned from a small bookstore to a massive retailer in only a few years. Today, it accounts for more than 50% of the US e-commerce market. It’s a big part of our daily lives, with endless shoppers starting their online search right on Amazon and cutting search engines out of the equation.
With all this in mind, it’s not hard to imagine the amount of valuable information you can find on Amazon. Whether you’re a seller or a vendor, it’s a one-stop-shop that carries all the data you may need. Read on to learn more about Amazon scraping, its legality, and what kind of information this procedure can provide.
The Legality of Amazon Data Scraping
Most people still believe that web scraping is a shady practice. This can be true, so it’s crucial to know your legal limitations and comply with the rules. While web scraping isn’t illegal itself, there are a few practices that can get you on the other side of the law:
- Scraping without consulting the terms of service
We often accept a website’s ToS just by visiting. If the ToS prohibits all types of automatic data gathering, it’s safe to assume scraping this website may be against the law.
- Gathering private data
While partial regulations exist, there’s no collective law regulating the gathering, storage, and use of personal data. Still, collecting personal information, especially if it’s protected by logins, is against the law.
- Copying intellectual property
Copyrighted information includes designs, articles, audio recordings, videos, and any other sort of creative work. Still, copyright law does not protect product prices and similar data.
To put it short, scraping the web for publicly accessible and non-copyrighted information is mostly fine. However, the commercial use of scraped data is somewhat limited. Simply put, you can search YouTube for your favorite music video and enjoy it, but you can’t upload the same video on your channel since it’s copyrighted.
How to Keep Web Scraping Ethical
Web scraping, also known as web harvesting, offers an affordable and convenient way to extract data online. Unlike screen scraping (which you’re doing right now by reading this text), web scraping gathers data from the HTML code. By now, you can probably think of a few scenarios where this practice would come in handy. The list is almost endless. With scraping becoming increasingly popular, it’s useful to know your rights as well as the legal limitations involved.
Some of you may remember the case from late 2019 when the US Court of Appeals ruled that public website scraping doesn’t breach the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act). This verdict denied LinkedIn’s request to stop hiQ Labs from scraping its data and offering it to interested businesses.
This decision was crucial since the court confirmed that scraping isn’t different from a user accessing website’s data. As long as this data is available to the public and not copyrighted, it’s fair game. However, it’s important to mention that certain scraping and data extraction activities can end up as a potential CFAA breach.
Here are three basic tips to safely scrape the web:
- Check if the website offers an API and use it
- Read and comply with the Terms of Service and robot.txt rules
- Stay away from copyrighted material.
What About Amazon Web Scraping?
Various retailers want to scrape Amazon for countless reasons. The massive amount of data Amazon carries includes:
- Product lists
To stay ahead of the competition, you need to keep an eye on their every move. Regularly scraping your competitors’ products and the changes they will allow you to adjust your business model.
Product reviews can inform you on what sells and how satisfied the customers are. Whether it’s your own or competing products, reviews can help you understand your customers and their pain points that need addressing.
- Top-rated products
By keeping an eye on top-rated products and their rates per category, you’ll be able to identify current market trends and adjust your assortment accordingly.
- Pricing information
Analyzing competitor pricing trends can significantly benefit your pricing strategy optimization. This data will provide your company with strategic information to beat the competition.
- Internationally selling products and pricing
Since Amazon delivers goods globally, you can exclusively scrape products that ship overseas. This information will provide valuable insight into global trends and make expanding into foreign markets significantly easier and more profitable.
- Reviewers lists and customer profiles
Finally, scraping profiles creates an excellent opportunity for generating fresh leads. Due to Amazon’s strictness regarding their customer data, this process can be incredibly demanding. The top reviewers’ lists are extensive (up to 10,000 accounts), so automated web scraping can save lots of time and human resources.
All this information can solve numerous business issues. If your company needs to gather a large amount of data from Amazon, consider using their API first. In case you don’t find the information you’re looking for, you can start scraping. Keep in mind that Amazon’s scraping policy has numerous restrictions, which make the process quite challenging.
Amazon’s website is different from many other websites as it’s built to minimize web crawling and scraping. That means automatic scrapers often fail or get blocked. When you need to gather vast amounts of Amazon data in regular intervals, there’s no alternative to a reliable, professional scraping service. That way, you don’t have to worry about the legal (or any other) restrictions involved. More importantly, it won’t distract you from your main focus - your own company.
There are countless reasons you may want to scrape Amazon. However, the procedure can be challenging, time-consuming, and almost impossible without the right tools and know-how. If your business lacks these resources, it’s far more efficient to leave Amazon data scraping and extraction to a professional service.