Professional network LinkedIn is fighting off shady competitors that are using bots to vacuum up hundreds of thousands of its user profiles in order to compete with LinkedIn’s own recruiter products, according to a new lawsuit.
In a complaint filed this week in San Francisco, LinkedIn asked a court to grant orders that will allow it to stop a group of “John Does” from scraping its servers, and to make the unknown defendants pay for allegedly breaching federal and state hacking statutes as well as a variety of other laws.
In order to identify the creator of the bots, LinkedIn said it will issue discovery orders to Amazon Web Services, which the defendants are using to create and store information related to the fake profiles.
Its not clear that they have a copyright case - the copyright for information in the profiles is held by the person who wrote the profile. Nothing in the user agreement says otherwise.
They probably have a case for breach of the user agreement, where scrapers have signed up for fake profiles. AFAIK that is a criminal offence in the US (so is signing up for Facebook with a false name, in theory), but in other jurisdictions they may have to sue each person separately for actual damages. Difficult.