Is it legal to copy data from a subscription based education site using http://ricks-apps.com/osx/sitesucker/ or https://www.httrack.com. This is to be able to study the material when internet is not available or when my subscription to the online tool is ended. It will be strictly for my own personal use. The material will never be modified, posted somewhere else or sold in any shape or form. I can renew my subscription when I need access to new material but want to be able to do that only when I want the new content.

The site's terms mentions following which I completely agree with: "You will not modify, publish, transmit, reverse engineer, participate in the transfer or sale, create derivative works, or in any way exploit any of the content, in whole or in part, found on this website. "

I see a similar question here as well but don't look like anyone was able to reply about legality of the issue: https://forum.httrack.com/readmsg/27396/index.html

  • You're not supposed to be able to access it after your subscription ends. That's the entire point of subscription. What you're asking is whether it's okay to breach your contract in a particular way - to which the answer should be obvious. – Nij Aug 10 at 6:21
up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is a pretty black and white area of copyright law. An author creates material, and as the creator holds copyright, which means that he has the exclusive right to give permission to make copies. With digital material, everything is copying: downloading, installing, reading. You could directly negotiate with the copyright holder to get a license to use that material. It could be for a year, or forever, it just depends on the contract.

Whatever this education site is, they will have negotiated contracts with the rights-holders which state the conditions under which copies can be made. Those conditions might, for example, charge a penny per download; or, a penny per year per unit. You have to look at your contract with the education site, to see what is allowed. For example, it may be that you are not allowed to actually "copy", and can only access the material online (for as long as you have an account). It is also possible that you do have permission to make a local copy that you can legally use past the expiration of the subscription: read the contract. There may be a clause that prohibits use of harvesting technology (where you download all ten million works with a single flick of the wrist). Especially if their contract with the rights-holder is based on there being such a clause in customer contracts, such a clause is reasonably likely to exist.

You cannot access the material at all without permission; those conditions for permission are in the contract.

This is a gray area of law in that people are generally allowed to photograph, copy, screenshot and record any content that they legally have access to, yet media companies have been pushing the courts to protect their content for decades.

It was ruled in court during the "boombox" era that people are allowed to record songs off of the radio onto cassette for personal use, so long as they aren't reselling that content.

Since then, people have used that law and applied to almost everything similar. The general consensus now is that you can download, record, copy and save any content on the web that your privy to, but you cannot redistribute it without a license. There are of course some media companies who would try to argue against that to protect their "rental" based content.

Being unable to make a copy of content that you can access online would be like saying that you can't screenshot certain portions of your computer screen as those graphics are owned by someone else. Likewise, your computer already makes copies of content online as it caches a lot of it. The entire internet and computer system is based on the principles of copying.

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