Suppose a developer creates a project which involves webscraping reviews. In particular, reviews from Goodreads.

When actually using this scraped data, the project displays a note that it is from Goodreads, e.g:

User_Name Posted on Goodreads

Review Here

The robots.txt file, in my understanding, outlines whether scraping is allowed, but I am not sure whether for Goodreads this is permissible.

I have been researching this, and I have not been able to find any real definitive answer, except don't violate GDPR or cause any damage to the website.

2 Answers 2



User posts remain the copyright of the author and you can only use them if you have permission (which you don’t - see clause 4 of the terms) or if your use is fair use or fair dealing depending on where you are. See What is the practical difference between "fair use" and "fair dealing" in Copyright law? - it might be, you haven’t given us enough information on what you plan to do with it to tell.


Privacy law vary around the world but based on the EU’s GDPR, both the user name and the review are personal information (since they can be linked to an individual) and you must have a lawful basis for collecting the data or it must be for purely personal or household use.

If you are doing it for personal study as part of a recognised course, that meets the copyright fair dealing test. If you are doing it for practice and won’t submit it to someone who is covered by the GDPR, like your school, that covers the privacy issue. Once you choose to submit it, you are now no longer in “purely personal or household use” and you must have a lawful basis and go through all the hoops of the GDPR (as must your school when you give them the data).

  • It is for my A-level computer science coursework. Does this class as personal?
    – 1234
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 18:53
  • @1234 See edits
    – Dale M
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 21:15

They post GoodReads Terms

4. Our Proprietary Rights

Except for your User Content, the Service and all materials therein or transferred thereby, including, without limitation, software, images, text, graphics, illustrations, logos, patents, trademarks, service marks, copyrights, photographs, audio, videos, music, and User Content (the "Goodreads Content"), and all intellectual property Rights related thereto, are the exclusive property of Goodreads and its licensors. Except as explicitly provided herein, nothing in this Agreement shall be deemed to create a license in or under any such intellectual property Rights, and you agree not to sell, license, rent, modify, distribute, copy, reproduce, transmit, publicly display, publicly perform, publish, adapt, edit or create derivative works from any materials or content accessible on the Service. Use of the Goodreads Content or materials on the Service for any purpose not expressly permitted by this Agreement is strictly prohibited.

So your "scraping" is clearly in the "copy" category and is prohibited under the terms their service is licensed to you.

If this is a school project you might consider contacting them and getting permission to do what you plan. Otherwise you could just continue on and take the risk that they will discover what you are doing.

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