What is the EU law on data scraping from websites?

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Published by a LexisNexis TMT expert
Last updated on 06/07/2018

The following TMT Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is the EU law on data scraping from websites?
  • What is scraping?
  • What is the relevant law?
  • Copyright
  • Database right
  • Data protection
  • Computer misuse

What is the EU law on data scraping from websites?

What is scraping?

Web scraping is a process by which website data is extracted (ie copied) using a web scraping program. Websites are typically coded in HTML and a range of different web scraping programs have been created which interface with the HTML code to collect copies of the data for use elsewhere.

Another type of scraping relevant to website operators is screen scraping. In very basic terms, this involves deploying a program to complete forms on third party websites and then extract the output/results from those forms. Often the program will simulate a human operator to obtain the outputs (which is why websites sometimes set ‘challenge responses’ such as Captcha, requiring the user to enter a code shown on the screen to determine whether that user is a human operator or a program). Some price comparison websites use screen scraping programs.

What is the relevant law?

Some of the law in this area is derived from, or is, European Law. Although other laws may be relevant, those of primary relevance are:

  1. Copyright

  2. Database right

  3. Data protection

  4. Computer misuse

The issues in each of these areas are highlighted below.


Generally speaking, a website will include and be comprised of Copyright-protected works. These may include literary works (such as news articles and HTML code) and artistic works (such as photographs and graphic images).

Related documents:
Key definition:
Copyright definition
What does Copyright mean?

Copyright is a form of intellectual property protecting artistic or creative works such as books and other written material, drama, music, art, sound and video recordings, broadcasts and software. Copyright protects the expression of information or an idea, not the information or idea itself.

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