I just learned that scraping the web is not always as legal as I thought it was. Apparently a website can prohibit the use of web scrapers for their website in its Terms Of Service.

The translator deepl.com has a API which costs money. However, on GitHub one guy published a tool that allows everyone to implement the functionality of deepl.com in their own programs. He basically wrote a free API.

Did I assume correctly that this guy makes himself liable to prosecution? Is it illegal as well to use his tool (1) and publish free software using it on GitHub (2)?

1 Answer 1


Assuming that DeepL has terms of use whoich prohibit access except via their paid API, that prohibits unauthorized use.

Writing code to access it anyway, as an exercise, would not be illegal. Using such code as an unofficial API might well violate DeepL's TOS, and thus be subject to a suit. Providing the API might be contributing to such unlawful actiuons, if the provider knew it was likely to be so used.

It might, in the US, be considered a circumvention of a technical measure restricting access, and thus prohibited under the DMCA. If that is the case, the writer might be violating the DMCA also, as it prohibits creating and distributing "means" of circumvention.

  • So I better stop my project which made use of it. Thank you!
    – Mr.Sh4nnon
    Jul 11, 2019 at 17:44
  • @Mr.Sh4nnon Check what the DeepL TOS says. If they don't forbid scraping, that makes a difference. Jul 11, 2019 at 17:48
  • Well, I am insecure. DeepL’s TOS for the free service is really really short (deepl.com/en/pro-license.html#free). In the paid service’s TOS they write alot about their API and how one can not use it. I‘m not a lawyer. Reading your answer and their free versions‘ TOS I‘d say I‘m okay using a selfmade API for an app which I upload free on Github. However, this can‘t be true can it? They must have be prepared for this to happen.
    – Mr.Sh4nnon
    Jul 11, 2019 at 18:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .