Report on legal issues in web crawling

This report was produced in the framework of “ELRC+ L2 Project “Tools and Resources for CEF Automated Translation“, under SMART 2015/1091 service contract granted by the European Commission.

The purpose of this report is to analyze the question whether and under what conditions web crawling operations can be lawfully conducted.

It starts with a general overview of web crawling, which briefly presents the procedure and discusses possible scenarios for which crawled data can be used. Then, it proceeds to the legal analysis of the problem, which takes into account such legal frameworks as copyright, the sui generis database right, digital rights management, data protection, contract law and conflict of laws.

The analysis is focused on EU law (with the laws of Germany and France often quoted as examples), but some questions specific to the US law are also discussed. The Sanctions section discusses possible sanctions for unlawful web crawling.

The conclusion proposes a roadmap – a set of recommendations that should be taken into account before the start of any web crawling operation.