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Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Web Scraping – An Illegal Activity or Simple Data Collection?

Gone are the days when skillful extraction of information pertaining to real estate such as foreclosures, homes for sale, or mortgage records was considered difficult. Now, it is not only easy to extract data from real estate websites but also scrape real estate data on a consistent basis to add more value to your portal, or ensure that updated data is available to your visitors at all times. From downloading actual scanned documents in the form of PDF files to scraping websites for deeds or mortgages, smartly designer data extraction tools can do it all.

However, the one question that still manages to come to the front in the minds of those who scrape real estate listings and others are whether the act is illegal in nature or a simple way of collecting data.

Take a look.

Web Scraping—What is it?

Generally speaking, web scraping refers to programs that are designed to simulate human internet surfing and access websites on behalf of their users. These tools are effective in collecting large quantities of data that are otherwise difficult for end users to access. They process semi-structured or unstructured data pages of targeted websites and transform available data into a more structured format that can be extracted or manipulated by the user easily.

Quite similar to web indexing that is used by search engines, the end motivation of web scraping is much different. While web indexing makes search engines far more efficient, the latter is used for reasons like market research, change detection, data monitoring, or in some events, theft. But then, it is not always a bad thing. You just need to know if a website allows web scraping before proceeding with the act.

Fine Line between Stealing and Collecting Information

Web scraping rides an extremely fine line between the acts of collecting relevant information and stealing the same. The websites that have copyright disclosure statements in place to protect their website information are offended by outsiders raiding their data without due permission. In other words, it amounts to trespassing on their portal, which is unacceptable—both ethically and legally. So, it is very important for you to read all disclosure statements carefully and follow along in the right way. As web scraping cases may turn into felony offenses, it is best to guard against any kind of scrupulous activity and take permission before scraping data.

The Good News

However, all is not grey in data extraction processes. Reputed agencies are helping their clients scrape valuable data for gaining more value through legal means and carefully used tools. If you are looking for such services, then do get in touch with a reliable web scraping company of your choice and take your business to the next levels of success.

Source: https://3idatascraping.wordpress.com/2015/03/11/web-scraping-an-illegal-activity-or-simple-data-collection/

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