I am planning to create a website comparing flight prices. I am concerned about the legality of obtaining data from airline websites by screen scrapping them. The terms and conditions of these websites mention the need to have a license in order to use the software to download and use the data for commercial purposes. Here the question arises whether the price comparison engine, which does not generate direct income from this data but from advertising and partner programs, can be considered as commercial use of the data. On the other hand, even if it is not commercial use, is it legal to share such automatically downloaded data?

This is interesting because in many areas such comparison engines exist. These are e.g. price comparison engines for products, the mentioned flight prices, or bookmakers' odds. The conditions of using the data from these areas are the same as the conditions on airline websites. I don't think that all these websites have licenses for such things. Examples are http://www.azair.com/ or https://en.surebet.com/surebets. Both sites use data from dozens of sources and I find it hard to believe that they have licenses for all this.

To sum up, do you really need such licenses from each entity or are there any other solutions that allow to legally use this data in a price comparison engine?

  • 1
    Does this answer your question? Terms and condition for web scraping – BlueDogRanch Jul 10 '20 at 14:36
  • "I don't think that all these websites have licenses for such things." Why do you think they can operate without license agreements? – BlueDogRanch Jul 10 '20 at 14:53
  • How do you propose to "screen scrape", and who do you screen scrape from? Is this just information redistribution, or do you intend to enter into a "party" relation between the customer and the airline? – user6726 Jul 10 '20 at 16:16
  • Its worth noting that most commercial price comparison sites use an API to source their data (they either integrate with the entities they are comparing or those entities send them data to use) - scraping the data often gets you personalised data based on the fetcher, not a true indication of a market price. – Moo Jul 11 '20 at 0:11

In the EU:

In Ryanair Ltd v PR Aviation BV [2015] the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) held that subject to national law the owner of a publicly accessible database is free to determine by contract the conditions of its use. In other words the owner is free to set the T&Cs and you must abide by them or not use the website.

You can ensure you don't infringe the rights of the data owner by obtaining their consent to the screen scraping and your intended uses of that data.

I've checked several airline websites, they all explicitly forbid screen scraping and some suggest obtaining a licence from them for access to their APIs.

As for commercial use: you intend to use something for the purpose of making money from it.

Other laws:

If you're merely scraping flight times and prices then its unlikely to engage copyright law.

In the UK, the Computer Misuse Act is so broadly written that screen scraping might constitute a criminal offence, depending on the circumstances.

In some cases courts have ruled that trespass extends to online activities, i.e. using a website without permission or using it after being asked to stop using it is trespass.

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