I am thinking of creating a website with restaurants ratings.

You would be able to search for restaurants and in the result list you would see the name of the restaurant and the ratings of different websites like Yelp, TripAdvisor, OpenTable, Facebook, and Google (for that restaurant).

I am little confused about the rules here.

First, I have read that if you use facts from websites it's not copyrighted and it is fair use.

Second, I see Google results with the Yelp rating (with stars) in the search result.

Third, they are plugins for WordPress that let you show ratings (https://wordpress.org/plugins/widget-yelp-reviews/, https://en-ca.wordpress.org/plugins/yelp-widget-pro/)

Fourth, in Yelp API TOS they have:

Enhance your app with Yelp ratings, reviews, photos and much more

With a check mark in front.. But later it says:

display or use Yelp user review ratings (numerical, star or any other representation of the Yelp user review rating calculation) alongside or in conjunction with restaurants where Eat24 is not providing ordering and delivery services (i.e. don’t use Yelp user review ratings for the benefit of an Eat24 competitor);

I only want to use the overall rating of a restaurant not every single rating of each users. Does that include review rating calculation and Yelp user review ratings?

So is my idea fair use of these websites data or is not because of the TOS?

  • Do you intend to make use of the Yelp API to display Yelp ratings on your own website? May 16, 2018 at 6:40
  • I am open to just using the normal website content.
    – jnbdz
    May 16, 2018 at 17:08

1 Answer 1


It is not clear from your question whether you intend to make use of the Yelp API to display Yelp ratings on your own website.

You ask:

So is my idea fair use of these websites data or is not because of the TOS?

The ToS is not for Yelp data, it is for the Yelp API. The ToS will only apply to you if you agree to it.

However, if you agree to the ToS for the API, fair use is irrelevant. The ToS is a legally binding contract that trumps fair use.

You also brings up Google's display of Yelp stars. This display is not based on the Google using the Yelp API, but on Yelp opting in on a mechansim created by Google called Rich Snippets.

Returning to Yelp ToS, it is clear that its purpose is permit re-use of their "ratings, reviews, photos" etc. by to promote your own Yelp-rated business. Also what they clearly do not allow you do do, is to build a competitor to Yelp.

Since your planned restaurant rating site would compete with Yelp, you will not be able to use the Yelp API to get the data.

What if you didn't use the Yelp API, but simply scraped their site - would fair use apply?

What constitutes fair use in borderline cases such as yours is mainly decided by case law. Case law differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. My general impression is that it is not fair use if the use is commercial in nature (i.e. you create something intended to directly compete with the site you scrape the data from) and your product or service does not communicate something new and different from the original or expands its utility.

As always: If you want specific advice, hire a lawyer.

  • Yelp ToS: yelp.ca/static?p=tos says: Section B: You also agree not to, and will not assist, encourage, or enable others to: iii. Use any robot, spider, site search/retrieval application, or other automated device, process or means to access, retrieve, scrape, or index any portion of the Site or any Site Content; But I read that this did not matter... For some legal reason. Is it true?
    – jnbdz
    May 16, 2018 at 17:07
  • What I could do is just have links to Yelp without displaying the rating. But still I would need to get the data from there website to have the right link.
    – jnbdz
    May 16, 2018 at 17:11
  • @jnbdz Courts have been inconsistent on whether ToS limitations on scraping are valid. See stackoverflow.com/a/32674131 and esp. hiQ Labs v. LinkedIn, which seemed particularly sympathetic toward scraping when anti-competitive motives were at play. May 23, 2019 at 23:02

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