A while ago, I programmed a very simple API-Wrapper for a search engine and made it Open Source (Licensed under MIT). All it basically does, is using the very same REST-API the actual website uses as well (no scraping). So what I did was making a search query in my browser and checking in my network tab where the request went. Then I wrote a small library that uses those endpoints.

Now I received a message, telling me that this is against the website's ToS and could result in legal actions.

I'm aware that it might go against their ToS. But as far as I know, the only consequence would be a termination of the service, right?

The paragraph in the ToS states:
(I'm not sure if I should include the name of the company so I omitted it.)

Unless explicitly agreed otherwise, no licence to use the (...) Application Programming Interfaces (API) is granted to the User for any use other than within the framework of the Services published by (...). Consequently, no collection and no reproduction of search results is authorised other than the exceptions provided for and strictly limited by law.

I'm not collecting, nor reproducing any search results. The library just queries the very same API.

Is this against the law in the EU and should I take down the repository containing the source code?

  • 3
    "Should I take down the repository containing the source code?" Ask a lawyer. – BlueDogRanch Apr 6 at 16:44
  • There's a pretty good chance you'd be allowed to keep publishing the wrapper, but the legal struggle of convincing the company of this would be lengthy and expensive. It might be easier to fold and take your software down. – amon Apr 7 at 8:43
  • Also see law.stackexchange.com/questions/13549/…. It's plausible the average user is not aware of all the small print in TOS, but now that you received a notice, that is probably not the case any more. – J. Win. Apr 7 at 21:17

Breach of contract is against the law

It’s generally not a crime which will engage the organs of state power but the aggrieved party can take you to court for the damage they have suffered and/or to seek an injunction to get you to stop. If you don’t stop after getting an injunction, then it’s a crime.

Jurisdictions vary over who pays for a court action. In some each pays their own costs, in others, the loser pays (part of) the winner’s costs as well.

The amount of damages payable depend on the damage the aggrieved party has actually suffered, however, even if they have no actual losses, they can usually sue for nominal damages.


See Are terms of service legal contracts?.

If you engage in a contract with the service provider by agreeing to the TOS, and the service provider takes the extra step of notifying you of a violation of the TOS, it is reasonable they take any action from terminating the service, up to pursuing damages against you. Say that they make advertisement revenue of $0.001 per click, and your wildly popular wrapper is used ten million times diverting eyeballs from their site... it might become worth their time to come after you.

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