1.I made a web scraper of an online dictionary. It scrapes and saves to a text file definitions and examples of sentences of words in a list. I want to make this scraper publicly available on GitHub. This scraper will be free of charge. Is it legal? There is nothing said about it in Terms and Conditions https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/terms-and-conditions.

2.Is it legal to scrape and download sounds of words (.mp3 file) from oxfordlearnersdictionaries?

Thank you in advance.

  • Regarding dictionary it's tricky, since dictionary cannot be copyrighted quora.com/Can-a-dictionary-be-copyrighted . They copy sentences from other books in dictionaries.
    – homievk
    Dec 4, 2023 at 16:32
  • 2
    @homievk "dictionary cannot be copyrighted" This significantly misstates the way that copyright law applies to dictionaries, and the best answer at the link reaches the opposite conclusion with good authority to support it.
    – ohwilleke
    Dec 4, 2023 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


Depends on which jurisdiction you are in.

  • Operating this scraper and using the resulting data set could be a violation of copyright laws in some countries. The copyright status of databases like a dictionary is where details of the implementation of various conventions differs.

  • Writing and uploading the scraper might conceivably violate 'hacking tools' laws, but this is much less likely.

  • You might be in violation of the terms of service of the site, which is a civil matter.

  • I found on their website "no materials may otherwise be copied, modified, published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without our prior written permission". It means scraping is not legal?
    – homievk
    Dec 4, 2023 at 16:28
  • 2
    @homievk, it means they are explicitly denying the permission to scrape for re-use by you. What that means depends on your local laws.
    – o.m.
    Dec 4, 2023 at 17:53
  • Generally, violating terms of service is not a crime in the US but circumventing technological barriers to access a website might be (and the bar for this is quite low e.g. changing your IP address to get around a ban). Without knowing exactly how the scraper works, it's hard to know if there might be a case.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 5, 2023 at 12:23

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