I am looking into archiving certain articles of websites (not the whole website or nothing similar) I'm interested in, to keep a personal archive of information I want to have available or that I want to read later offline. As the Save As (Control + S) or the Print (Control + P) options on Chrome give bad results, I was looking into extensions like WebScrapbook, or SingleFile. The problem is that searching I discovered that scrapping, or crawling a website is in a legal grey area, as it consumes bandwidth and therefore, it costs money to the server owner. The majority of articles about that talk about automated means and downloading large amounts of data from the website, but I DON'T have any intentions of downloading entire websites, with automated robots like HTTrack, SiteSucker or wget, which obviously consume a lot of bandwidth, as you are downloading the entire website content, and sometimes even override the robots.txt rules. I would like to download with an extension like WebScrapbook, or SingleFile a single article I think it is interesting, and therefore it wouldn't be consuming much more bandwidth to the website that normal browsing, and won't cost almost any money to the website owner. I obviously won't be downloading any data which is not available to the public (behind a login or a paywall, or that I'm not authorized to access). Also, for copyright reasons, I want to keep clear that I won't modify and/or share and/or publish any of these articles, I'll kept them for offline reading and archiving, so it would be considered fair use, right? Also (for websites hosted in Europe), as they are articles, I think no Personal Information under GDPR will appear, but the comment sections worries me, as there's people that post a comment with their real name. In conclusion, I don't think so, but just to be sure, doing that type of archiving is possible to end me in legal trouble? Thanks.

I'm in the US, but as I probably visit websites located in other jurisdictions, so the location don't means a lot in here

1 Answer 1


The first place to start is reading this page, Legal Issues in Web Archiving (written by the web archivist at the Library of Congress). The main problem is that you cannot copy a web page without permission, except under narrow circumstances as allowed by law. What you describe is probably prohibited by law, unless you left out important facts. The library/archive exception in US law is spelled out here. Most important is that to qualify,

(2) the collections of the library or archives are (i) open to the public, or (ii) available not only to researchers affiliated with the library or archives or with the institution of which it is a part, but also to other persons doing research in a specialized field

In other words, you are not creating an archive, you are making a personal copy. Of course, you can do this, with the permission of the content-owner.

A fair use defense is dicey because you are engaged in a large-scale copying. It helps that you aren't planning on redistributing the pages, but massive copying is not one of the "fair" uses. Since "hits" are cash in the digital world, the argument "no effect on market" may well fail.

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