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Legality of pulling reviews from other sites?



5:12 pm on Mar 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I'm currently involved in a local directory type project. We feature reviews etc, and I'm curious what the legal issues are with pulling/syndicating reviews from sites like yelp (and citing the source, like Google does it). Does anyone know anything about this?


5:35 pm on Mar 19, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Check each site's TOS first. The professional way to go about it would be by asking permission. Some of those sites may have an API that allows you to pull content, but restrictions for commercial use may apply.


3:32 pm on Mar 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

In U.S. copyright law, the concept of "brief quotations" is usually considered a "fair use". However, wholesale scraping of hundreds/thousands of reviews from another site and redisplaying them would likely fall well outside the concept of a "brief quotation".

A second consideration might be adopting some copyrighted work, and then making substantial alterations to it. At some point, the changed work becomes a substantially new work, and the copyright chain is broken. However, in the case of reviews, this might be very hard to accomplish.

Don't be fooled into thinking because Google is doing something, it must be okay for you to do! If you're referring to the reviews that Google displays in Google Maps with business listings, I think in every one of those cases Google and the review site have signed content distribution agreements. That isn't done without permission.

Within regular search results, Google and other search engines do indeed spider sites and display brief snippets without obtaining express copyright permissions. Most consider this to fall within fair use, and the general practice is accepted. A general index or guide to other websites, with brief quotes, is a different beast from extracting the primary/core Intellectual Property content from a page and redisplaying it for the purpose of making $. Even the spidering and display of snippets is sometimes criticized

(Newspapers have criticized Google for doing this, although one is somewhat stumped as to how newspapers think people will really find/discover their content -- and one is also stumped as to why a newspaper that's offended by this does not make use of the universally-accepted protocol for opting-out of spidering by setting up a simple disallow in robots.txt.)


9:10 pm on Mar 22, 2010 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Tahnks for the replies, I've found a couple of sites that offer APIs for this. Going to check them out in more detail and report back...

Robert Charlton

12:40 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

...content distribution agreements.

Yes, if you look at the sources on the restaurant reviews, eg, you'll notice in some cities that Zagat is often a source. That's Zagat subscription content, which is otherwise private... it doesn't appear on Zagat's public pages.


4:05 am on Mar 23, 2010 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

Wiley Publishing (Frommer's) is another one of note.

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