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Canadian Court Finds Website Scraping Infringes Copyright

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the didja-see-the-eula-punk dept.

Canada 147

First time accepted submitter wrecked writes "A trial judgment from British Columbia, Canada, found that Zoocasa, a real estate search site operated by Rogers Communications, breached copyright by scraping real estate listings and photos from Century 21 Canada. The decision thoroughly reviews the issues of website scraping, Terms of Use, 'Shrink Wrap' and 'Click Wrap' Agreements, robots.txt files, and copyright implications of hyperlinking. For American readers used to multi-million dollar damages, the court here awarded $1,000 (one thousand dollars) for breach of the Century 21 website's Terms of Use, and statutory copyright damages totalling $32,000 ($250 per infringing real estate photo). More analysis at Michael Geist's blog, and the Globe & Mail."

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Curious question, (4, Interesting)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583426)

those crappy robot sites that like to take my comments on other web sites and message boards and repost them willie-nilly all over the place in hopes of attracting ad revenue- are those affected by this ruling?

Not like I'm going to file in a Canadian court, but I do find it annoying to have comments showing up all over Google on garbage sites that only exist for a short time and that I've never heard of.

Re:Curious question, (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583800)

Well that depends on the Terms of Service of the board where you posted them - both what rights you signed away and what rights others get - but I would imagine for most of these fly-by-night scraping sites yes. It'll probably be just as hard bringing those to court as spammers though, the chance you'll ever recover any time or money you spend pursuing them is very slim and the award likely the statutory minimum.

Re:Curious question, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583996)

Boo hoo.

How do you think Google started? They downloaded ("scraped", like we need ANOTHER word for it) the WHOLE internet... recursively.

You don't HAVE to look at things you don't like if they don't affect you materially, or rather, you only find them astheticly offensive. (It is a mistake to think someone's reuse of something you made necessarily affects you. Copyright has nothing to do with it.)

Re:Curious question, (2)

pecosdave (536896) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584102)

You're an idiot and you missed the point.

Google, and other search engines for that matter, index my content (yes by downloading or scraping), keep it internally and point people towards what I've written. Spamdexers, which is what I'm actually complaining about, take my words, put them in a completely unrelated context - sort of like most news commentary shows - and replaster it somewhere else, usually out of context and incomplete in a manner that prevents the users from replying to the original post after a search if thats what they wish to do. Even worse it forces them to sign up to reply to me on the scrapers web site in a manner I'll probably never see and certainly won't respond to if they wish to ask me a question of flame me much as you have and they'll hand over personal information in the process to do it. Practices I would rather not be associated with.

I really don't see what your point in the last paragraph. Where they to attribute the original post in their repost there would be no questioning their reuse of my statements, however that is very rarely done, usually an effort is made to hide the origin, except for the use of my handle. I generally could care less about copyright on things I post on the web, I care more about how I'm viewed based on what/where I post, and those places that fail to attribute the original to make it appear as though I personally contributed to their site, THAT is an offense of a different kind. It's akin to using someone elses endorsement or logo on your product without permission or compensation.

Re:Curious question, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584422)

> You're an idiot and you missed the point.
(The above quote by one "pecosdave", reproduced here purely for reader reference, in a manner that is believed and intended to be fair use or fair dealing, but that is not intended to convey any endorsement of the original author. All copyrights remain with their original author(s). If any portion of the preceding is in contravention to local law(s) that portion is to be removed, but the remainder will remain in effect. This is a work of fiction; the characters and places are not meant to portray reality.)

I know you are, but what am I?

Seriously though, your idea is bad and you should FEEL bad.

(oh, and ":P" just to make your day a little better.)

> I generally could care less about copyright on things I post on the web,
(The above quote by one "pecosdave", reproduced here purely for reader reference, in a manner that is believed and intended to be fair use or fair dealing, but that is not intended to convey any endorsement of the original author. All copyrights remain with their original author(s). If any portion of the preceding is in contravention to local law(s) that portion is to be removed, but the remainder will remain in effect. This is a work of fiction; the characters and places are not meant to portray reality.)

You couldN'T care less?

> I care more about how I'm viewed based on what/where I post, and those places that fail to attribute the original to make it appear as though I personally contributed to their site, THAT is an offense of a different kind. It's akin to using someone else's endorsement or logo on your product without permission or compensation.
(The above quote by one "pecosdave", reproduced here purely for reader reference, in a manner that is believed and intended to be fair use or fair dealing, but that is not intended to convey any endorsement of the original author. All copyrights remain with their original author(s). If any portion of the preceding is in contravention to local law(s) that portion is to be removed, but the remainder will remain in effect. This is a work of fiction; the characters and places are not meant to portray reality.)

If they don't a attribute it to you, it doesn't affect your "reputation".

My point is, the same could have been said of Google. If everyone had cried "misuse", we'd still have webrings and printed Internet phone books. The Internet is 100% reuse of your and my ideas. We won't like all of it, but that doesn't matter, nor does it give either of us a right to silence that use with laws because it doesn't materially affect us. Reposing is not material. It's digital. Your name is not even unique. There are probably dozens of people in your country with your name. There are at least 6 with mine. People need to come to grips with the fact that others will quote them, impersonate them, and disagree with them. Your all the complaints I keep hearing are aesthetic and they are not enough to invoke copyright (OR, I hope at least, EVER require Facebook-issued government-recognized globally-unique ID cards, but that wouldn't surprise me frankly...)

I could argue with loud words and double exclamation points that it should be illegal to call anyone names on the Internet (god forbid!) too, but I hope you can see that would be about as insane as all the overzealous copyright whiners. You probably don't though.

My point: disagreement on the Internet does not justify invoking copyright law. But, that's what the copyright argument has become about... Silencing other's. So, I repeat: "boo hoo".

Everywhere I turn there's a new Mussolini.

Re:Curious question, (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584404)

Sure only if you can afford those same high priced lawyers that Century 21 Canada can afford.

And Google rejoices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583430)

And hoping that results like this come to America. Web scrapers are ruining the quality of their search engine results.

Re:And Google rejoices (1)

hsmyers (142611) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583458)

Seems to me that would depend entirely on what they do with the results. If the answer is 'nothing that the web sees again' then no harm, no foul. On the other-hand things quickly gray up if the info is re-posted in an altered form. The guy who scraped Cragslist and made it easier to use comes to mind. Not sure if this qualifies as 'ruining the quality' or not, but the Craigslist lawyers were quick to react. If the guy doesn't (or hasn't caved) it will be interesting to see what happens.

Re:And Google rejoices (1)

Calos (2281322) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584052)

Then again, with Google being accused of scraping Yelp! reviews etc., they might have a lot to lose.

Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583434)

This is relevant to mint.com and others in the financial space that depend on screen scraping as a key part of their solution.

Re:Huh? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583566)

No, it isn't. You can't copyright data, especially data that's derived from actual events. Theoretically they could copyright the presentation, but Mint and services like that are there to display the data in a different way than just displaying all the other sites.

Re:Huh? (1)

gomiam (587421) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583602)

You can't copyright data, but the presentation, as you call it, includes the way the text is written. In other words, as long as you tell it your own way without copy-pasting the source you used you are in the clear. I doubt these scraping sites do any meaningful rewriting of their sources, though. And how do you rewrite a picture, by the way, without the data it comes from?

Re:Huh? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583766)

Zaktly. I was going to point at that same obvious fact. Don't twist law to suit your need for a solution to a problem. That spells abuse of law for you and everyone. Create new law if needed as new law can be more easily ruled against or striken down as needed.

Re:Huh? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583832)

Lawyers and Judges live to "twist"/ apply existing laws to new types of situations as they arise.

To suggest there will be a new law governing every possible new technology/practice is unrealistic.

Re:Huh? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583808)

You can definitely copyright a human-written description of something accompanied by a certain picture. In fact, the picture itself and a human-written description itself can be copyrighted.

As long as there is some creative element in the description. There are always some creative elements in regards to a photographer's choice of how to take a certain picture of a building/property.

first comment! (2)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583442)

I wonder what they were smoking, thinking that was legal to do in the first place?

I know if I was a R.E. agent & somebody scraped all the pictures and other work I had gone to in an attempt to sell a property that I was asked and contracted to sell, I would be yelling copyright violations in court. And if the property was sold, I would normally have a contract that said I got my commission if it was sold within the duration of my contact.

They walk among us, and breed too!

--
Cheers, Gene.

Re:first comment! (1)

No, I am Spratacus! (2281684) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583480)

"First" comment, in excess of five minutes late? I wonder what browser you're using..

Re:first comment! (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583516)

He's probably using Firefox and it had to update to a new major version between each keystroke.

Re:first comment! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583554)

He's probably using Firefox and it had to update to a new major version between each keystroke.

I'm torn between moderating this as Funny or as Insightful.

Re:first comment! (3, Informative)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583676)

Yeah, well, I waste a lot more time being forced to do a preview before I can submit the post. It takes at least 5 seconds, and often 10+ seconds to get the damned preview back from /. For me, that is a PITA. When I am ready to post my drivel, even if complete with miss-spellings, I am ready.

Oh, and yes, firefox-7.01

Port scan (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583902)

and often 10+ seconds to get the damned preview back from /.

The ten-second delay is Slashdot port-scanning your IP address for common open proxies and waiting for connections to time out. You get it on a given IP only once every 24 hours. I've been told that if you set your firewall to refuse the connections instead of letting them timing out, the scan will run faster.

Re:Port scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584366)

Fascinating!

"open proxy" : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_proxy

From that Wikipedia article, I learned that some online services attempt to determine if incoming connections are from "open proxies" using software like "proxycheck" (which I see has been around for Unix/Linux since 2004 or earlier, but which the original author vows to port to "winbloze"; stay classy, Michael Tokarev! LOL).

OK, so let's call a client machine "C" (e.g., my home computer), and a proxy machine "P", and the machine running the service "S" (e.g., Slashdot's web server). If "P" were an *open* proxy, then any client "C" could connect to "P" and specify that service requests should be forwarded to an arbitrary service "S". But, if "P" were truly "open", then a request for the forwarding feature could come from anywhere, including "S". So, software like "proxycheck", running on "S", simply attempts to connect to "P" with the assumption that "P" is indeed an "open proxy", and confirms this assumption by using "P" to forward a message back to "S"! If "P" is not an *open* proxy, or if there is no "P" (because "C" connected *directly* to "S"), then the only indication might be a lack of a response after many seconds (hence the need to wait for connections to time out).

OK, so I think I understand the concept. But I don't understand the motivation.

Open proxies can unknowingly be created on any computer using viruses. An open proxy can then be used to obfuscate the true origin of a request (e.g., an HTTP request, or a SMTP request, etc).

Is it because Slashdot is trying to reduce comment spam by throttling comments by IP addresses? I can see how using a series of open proxies might enable a person to post many more comments than if they were communicating directly with Slashdot from a single IP address.

But both Tor and convention non-open bot nets would both be able to wage denial of service attacks or comment spam attacks without being stopped by a check for open proxy services from the originating connection IP address.

Re:Port scan (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584522)

I wondered why, by the time I had posted 3 times, the response was much faster. thanks for that inofo.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:first comment! (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583668)

No, but when I started that comment, it was first, but I often go back and change the wording a bit, so someone else could well have beat me to the actual first post. No biggie IMO, I was just surprised that I might be first.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:first comment! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583670)

/.'s pregnant pause waiting for server to respond/page to refresh?
 
You would think this being a techy site it would be a technically 'advanced' experience. Now we know better. I'll put this here while I go grab a power nap...

Re:first comment! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583582)

"R.E. agent & somebody scraped all the pictures and other work"

Web pages are publicly viewable by anyone. If you do not want people to download the "pictures and other work", there is a simple solution: put them behind a password.

If you do not do this, then by the very nature of the internet, anyone can come along and download them.

Re:first comment! (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583622)

Ugh. Just because they are publicly viewable does not mean you can take their content and put it up on your site for your own purposes. If you leave your house door unlocked, it is NOT okay for someone to enter your house and take what they want.

Re:first comment! (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583692)

Precisely my point. One could even get lead poisoned doing that.

--
Cheers, Gene.

Re:first comment! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583724)

Sure it does. Claiming that this situation is analogous to leaving a private home unlocked is RETARDED.

Websites are published works. They are works published freely. They are far more like stuff placed in the rubbish bins by the curb. No "breaking and entering" is required to access them. They are given away freely.

Re:first comment! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584032)

Websites are published works..

Quite true. And published works have copyright terms.

They are works published freely.

Here you are just plain wrong. They are published under whatever terms the publisher says they are published under. They may be free to re-use. They may be free to view, but not to re-use. There are many possible licenses.

They are far more like stuff placed in the rubbish bins by the curb. No "breaking and entering" is required to access them. They are given away freely.

Now who is getting retarded. No, the scenario is much more like the free as in beer advertisement newspapers you see in some stores - things like "Autotrader" or real estate sales books. If someone copies the pictures and descriptions from those and places them in a competing book (or web site) you can be sure that those companies would sue for copyright infringement.

Re:first comment! (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584034)

And in today's lesson, we learn that publishing something and putting it on display for everybody does not give away your copyright or distribution rights. It doesn't matter if I'm handing out pamphlets for free... if you take my pamphlet, scrub my contact information, and then try to resell it as your own work, then you're violating my copyright. If I'm trying to convert you to veganism, that's not really a problem (though it would be annoying), but if that work is in a business context, and is part of my advertising for my services, then it poses a very serious problem. In a real-estate context, where I'm paid commission from both the buyer and the seller, that directly impacts my bottom line, and is a major no-no.

Re:first comment! (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583822)

If you leave your house door unlocked, it is NOT okay for someone to enter your house and take what they want.

This is more like leaving your possessions on your front lawn with a "Take Me" sign attached.

The web was designed to be used by any user agent. This is something you accept by developing using web technologies. There are many other protocols in existence that are designed for proprietary systems. If you want control over your content, use the right technology for presenting your content, not the one that comes with a "Take Me" sign attached.

Re:first comment! (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583942)

Where is this "Take Me" sign? I don't see anywhere in the technology of the web the virtue that you should take other people's stuff and use it as your own. Yeah, linking to it is fine, and that's easy to do and built right in.

This is to be contrasted with your reasonable right to take any content from the internet that you can access and then use privately as you please. In much the same way, you are free to buy a book, tear pages out, scan and make copies of it and plaster your walls with those copies, write notes in the pages, etc., so long as you don't try to pretend the content in the book is yours and sell it or distribute it as such. If you want to scrape a site and keep it on your harddrive so you can view it when you don't have wifi, I see no problem with that.

Re:first comment! (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584940)

Where is this "Take Me" sign?

HTTP, HTML, etc. are written as open standards so anyone can write their own implementation. Users might visit using Chrome, Firefox, Lynx, or a custom web browser that makes browsing real estate listings easier. You understand and accept that by using an open standard to deliver your content.

Nobody wants a web that is legally limited to just Internet Explorer, we want people to use open standards as open standards. Developers choose HTML and HTTP because it means anyone can use their content using their software of choice, otherwise developers would just develop native software where they have much more control of use restrictions.

When you put the content out there using defined open standards, you are saying "anyone who supports this protocol may access and use this content." It, again, is the reason why someone chooses an open standard over a proprietary solution. If you want to protect your content, put it somewhere that is not designed to be open for use by anyone.

Re:first comment! (1)

siride (974284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585156)

You are conflating the ease of the protocol for transmitting information to rules about how the content should be used. Because the protocol makes it really easy, therefore, it's okay to just take other people's content. I think my house analogy holds. An unlocked door makes it really easy to get into the house. In fact, it's even designed that way (for easy access to the house). I might even want other people to come to my house, including people I don't know, under the right circumstances. I don't want them to come in at any time and take all my stuff for their own use. By your logic, I would have to make it really hard for them to do that, and if I didn't, then I am basically granting them access to my house.

Re:first comment! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584412)

This is more like leaving your possessions on your front lawn with a "Take Me" sign attached.

No. Making it publicly readable, even by automated agents, doesn't imply that you can use what you've just read in any way you like, especially not redisplay it in different context.

If I'm on a public place, I have to accept that I might appear in photographs taken at that place. That doesn't mean that I can't object if such a photograph is then publicly put on display.

Re:first comment! (1)

mini me (132455) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584868)

Making it publicly readable, even by automated agents, doesn't imply that you can use what you've just read in any way you like

I have visited sites whose Terms of Service required you use Internet Explorer or Netscape. Under the precedence set here, I could just as easily be sued for using Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or even Lynx. None of those user agents preset the website as the owner intended either.

If you don't allow any user agent to use your content, the whole purpose of the web is lost. Use proprietary non-standard protocols if you want protection from use beyond your control; simple as that. Standard protocols come with the assumption that anyone can implement their own implementation of the standard, just like Rogers did here.

Re:first comment! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585098)

If you don't see the difference between using another browser to view the content and using a program to republish the content, I can't help you.

Effort != Creativity != (c) (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584390)

Your post shows just how badly misunderstood copyright law is nowadays. The mere fact that someone puts in a lot of effort to make a web page does not in and of itself mean that that web page is protected by copyright. Many things which require hard work do not qualify for protection under copyright law. Two examples which immediately come to mind are facts (like telephone book listings) or creative works which are considered utilitarian (like clothing/fashion designs, or individual cookbook recipes).

I haven't reviewed the facts of this case, so I don't know whether I would believe copyright was infringed (and what I believe makes no difference, what the court believed is what determines that). And I might well believe copyright wasn't infringed but the copying was immoral (rather than illegal). But I do know that the underlying message of your post: "if my work was copied I would be pissed off so it must be illegal", is just adding to the general confusion over an already complex and contorted branch of the law.

Re:Effort != Creativity != (c) (2)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584724)

I like your sig. ;)

Text, scraped and copied might be gotten away with, but if I took the photo, the copyright is mine and you must negotiate the use of a copy of that photo with me. I have been rather intimately involved with that aspect of photography since the late 40's, and have even won a suit for the theft of my work to the tune of ten grand back in about 1982. That part of copyright law is, at least here in the states, air tight. OTOH, if I post it, I believe that one can link to my picture, but to copy that link and store it on your machine is a clear cut violation.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:first comment! (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584472)

Would you be also mad if I scraped your site and it resulted in the sale of your property? /devils advocate

Re:first comment! (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584772)

The point is, I do not have a sales contract with you, so I am in no way obligated to pay you any commission, only the person/agency I have a contract with (and you don't do anything in R.E. w/o a contract) then the only commission to be paid is to that agency that I do have a contract with.

Further point, why would you even want to expose yourself to a copyright violation when there is not a single farthing in it for you?

Boggles my mind.

So answer me this? What was in it for Rogers Comm. that made it appetizing for them to do this? Some detail in CA law that gives them a payday?

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:first comment! (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585372)

They have access to the buyer. In some real estate sales market, if another real estate agent can come up with a buyer, the real estate agent with the contract will share the sales commission with the referring real estate agent. So the scraping was likely re-directing the potential purchases to a real estate agency other than contract real estate agency, resulting in many shared sales commissions.

However in principle there is no real cheating going on, Century 21 was just being idiotically greedy. They simply could have refused to accept the purchaser referral from the agency and the commission would not have been shared. Of course they are then taking a chance the property is not sold before the contract expires, allowing the other agent to approach the seller directly and gaining the whole sales commission.

From the seller point of view, Century 21 is now pushing the bounds, basically disadvantaging the seller by significantly reducing advertising potential, driven by nothing but excessive greed. Based upon normal supply and demand rules will on average result in reduced prices for Century 21 sellers, simply by the significant reduction in number of potential. Lesson here, absolutely do not use Century 21 in Canada, their stupid myopic greed for a few hundred dollars in shared sales commission could cost you ten of thousands of dollars in reduced sales price.

Century 21? (4, Insightful)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583460)

They're a real estate broker. They make money when the property is sold; displaying ads is only a means to selling the property. Why do they object when people are copying and re-publishing their ads?

Re:Century 21? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583492)

As a company who has ads out, do you want people to look at your ads only or the ads for you and your competitors? Also, with real estate the commissions on a property sold are split between the real estate agent of the buyer and the seller. Would you want another company to get part of the commission because someone scraped your web sire?

As the person searching (not just for real estate), I'd rather get results from each company that matters and not hundreds of websites that scraped information, some of which have malware on them. I'd have fewer more unique search results to go through rather than the bloat of sites with identical information that doesn't have what I'm looking for half the time anyway.

Re:Century 21? (3, Insightful)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583594)

As a company who has ads out, do you want people to look at your ads only or the ads for you and your competitors?

And now, people visiting this site will only see ads from C-21's competitors. Well done, guys.

Also, with real estate the commissions on a property sold are split between the real estate agent of the buyer and the seller.

Completely irrelevant. Just because someone publishes an ad doesn't make them an agent.

The scraper is the one that makes no sense (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583888)

Century 21 usually has exclusive listing contracts, which means that no one else can sell the house for commission without getting sued out of their commission. I don't see the profit for the scraping company.

Re:Century 21? (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584418)

There is a similar situation in Denmark with the website Boliga [boliga.dk] . They attempt to list all properties which are for sale along with information about price changes and what the properties were sold for in the past (if that information is public). Real estate brokers and sellers are not particularly interested in buyers getting access to such information and so they are trying various things to block Boliga from providing that service. So far the competition authorities have forced the brokers to not block access to Boliga's scrapers, but this does not extend to photos.

Of course that means that the independent brokers who are not part of the collusion called Dansk Ejendomsmæglerforening are getting excellent exposure on Boliga, simply because their properties show up with photos...

Re:Century 21? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584498)

Zoocasa is an aggregating site; they take listing information from a number of realtors and provide listings from all of them. The issue is that Zoocasa took too much information to be considered fair use.

By linking directly to each listing users do not see the following;
Century 21 home page and all the information/offers there.
Other Century 21 listings that may be in a different order than what Zoocasa wants to display them.
Zoocasa does not display all the information that Century 21 does which may cause a potential buyer to reject a listing he might have looked into further.
Users will also see listings from other companies next to Century21 and may get the impression that they are from the same company. One of the selling point for real estate agents is brand recognition. By mashing all the companies together that brand recognition is diluted.

Century21 is not getting important metrics on who is searching for what kind of property. If they can identify a certain kind of property as being popular Century21 can advise their agents to concentrate on getting listings for those properties.With the full listing available to the user on the Zoocasa site they may never touch the Century21 site thereby denying the information that someone was interested in that kind of property. So no search parameter logging and no listing hit count.
.
Century21 want people who are looking for or selling real estate to come through their web site from the front page and use their search engine. That will not happen with Zoocasa scraping all the important information.

let me be the first to say... (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583468)

DUH!

Re:let me be the first to say... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583518)

no.

Re:let me be the first to say... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583548)

You can't be serious.

The only reason I'm not "scraping" Slashdot for my daily news is because they offer RSS. Opening most websites is downright painful, and not every site offers RSS. I'm NOT willing to click and scroll through 2 dozen flash-laden websites a day.

Scraping is fine. Reselling someone else's work is not.

Limiting damages -- Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583494)

The US has four per cent of the world's population and eighty per cent of the world's lawyers. Needless to say, they're all pushing up the size of pay outs. Canada, you keep on with those damage limits. The legal profession in the US has become a guild taxing the general population for no valid reason.

Re:Limiting damages -- Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583508)

It's not like it's easy to avoid the legal system in the US.

Re:Limiting damages -- Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583520)

No. World population is ~ 7,000,000,000 and the U.S. population is ~ 300,000,000

that is ~ 23%

Re:Limiting damages -- Great idea (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583542)

Umm, no. GP is correct, though the United States is the 3rd most populous county, behind India and China.

Re:Limiting damages -- Great idea (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583556)

*facepalm. 300,000,000/7,000,000,000 = .0428 or about 4.3%. 23% of 7 billion is about 2.2 billion, idiot.

Re:Limiting damages -- Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583580)

Let me guess - from your facility with maths, you are an American, yes?

Texas high school graduate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583920)

Wow, I bet you graduated from high school in Texas, with the new curriculum, with flying colors.

Re:Limiting damages -- Great idea (1)

canadian_right (410687) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583574)

It isn't the lawyers, it is silly juries awarding the outrageous amounts, plus your law does not cap punitive awards. In Canada the punitive part of the award cannot exceed $300,000. The rest of the award is to "make you whole" that is, undo the damage done by the party who lost. So the most you can get is what you lost, future losses, and $300,000 in cases of extreme suffering.

aggregation site et al (1)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583512)

ANY scraping, like those useless aggregator sites, need to be shut down. They ruin real search results and piss off billions of people daily.

How is this different than Google News? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583630)

How is this different than Google News? When sites bitch about Google News, I believe Slashdotter's call them greedy and spout "fair use"...

Re:How is this different than Google News? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583818)

Google news add functionality by allowing you to search through articles, it then LINKS to every article it "scraped". Google news is closer to a search engine than a scraper.

Re:How is this different than Google News? (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583988)

I imagine that those "additions" make Google News more palatable to the "fair use" folks, but to the content owners it's exactly the same thing.

Re:How is this different than Google News? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584350)

The real difference is that unlike these shady scrappers, Google News has a very easy way for content owners to block it; its spiders respect the robots.txt directives. And you don't have to block Google Search, there's a specific User Agent just for Google News.

Now ask yourself why the 'content owners' don't block it. Hint: it's because they, unlike the content owner in this story, don't actually want to block it.

Not copyrightable in the US (0)

kabloom (755503) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583626)

IANAL, but in the United States these real estate ads would not be copyrightable because they amount to a collection of facts.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (3, Informative)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583664)

Yes, you are definitely not a lawyer since you, as with most Slashtards, misunderstand what you are talking about. Yes, the facts themselves can not be copyrighted but the expression on those facts can be copyrighted. Which is why I can take the info from the phone book and publish them myself but I can't take someone else's phonebook, copy all the pages and then republish it as my own work because that expression of those facts are copyrighted.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (1)

isilrion (814117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584282)

Which is why I can take the info from the phone book and publish them myself but I can't take someone else's phonebook, copy all the pages and then republish it as my own work because that expression of those facts are copyrighted.

I don't understand the difference between those scenarios. The final result is the same - both contain the same information, in the same order. I just don't see where to draw the line between "copying the facts in the phone book" and "copying the phone book". At the font and page design, perhaps? That seem awfully narrow...

If anything, in this case, I suspect that the "expression" of those facts is very different - the same set of facts (real state listings) in a different website design, probably without any inherent order and hopefully mixed with "facts" from other sources. I know, IANAL, I'm just trying to figure out why, if what can be copyrighted is the expression and not the facts, getting a final result almost exactly like the original work (phone book case) is more acceptable than aggregating several sources and presenting it in a new design (this case).

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584580)

I just don't see where to draw the line between "copying the facts in the phone book" and "copying the phone book".

If, for some reason, you wanted to use a small subset of names and numbers from the phone book, such as for notable people that live in the same area, that wouldn't be a copyright violation (there'd probably be privacy laws to mind, though).

If you started just took down every name/number in a phonebook and sold your own copy of that list, that'd be a copyright violation. You're supposed to get the phone numbers yourself, not rely on the other company doing the hard work and profiting of the effort.

And if you actually made your own phone book my compiling the names/numbers yourself, there WOULD be a difference. Regularly there are fake entries put into the listings, to catch others who copy them. It's an awfully big coincidence if your competitor have the same exact people, who don't exist, in their phone book that your phone book does.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (1)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584800)

If you started just took down every name/number in a phonebook and sold your own copy of that list, that'd be a copyright violation. You're supposed to get the phone numbers yourself, not rely on the other company doing the hard work and profiting of the effort.

As I understand Feist v. Rural (ianal) you could sell your own copy of the list, although reformatting it (so as not to violate copyright on a creative layout) might be a good idea. You couldn't sell a copy of the cover, prefaces, or end material.

The "hard work" of collecting facts is irrelevant to copyright law. This is probably one of the most common misconceptions of copyright law, that it exists to protect "hard work". The only thing that is relevant is the extent to which creative expression is involved.

On the other hand, this:

Regularly there are fake entries put into the listings, to catch others who copy them.

brings up an interesting point, since arguably fake entries are creative. On the other hand, they are also fraudulent if the phone company represents the list as factual. So maybe a suit/countersuit for copyright/fraud would cancel each other? :)

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (1)

xelah (176252) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585484)

That's not true in many countries other than the US, such as in the EU, where there is a database right. Maybe not relevant for Canadian property adverts, unless they have a database right too, but perhaps for a whole lot else given that this is the Internet and you could be sued anywhere. Scraping a whole database full of property ads might well be illegal here even if you rewrite the text and get a five year old to draw artist's impressions of the houses. You could take a one or two, but not the whole thing.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583690)

IANAL, but in the United States these real estate ads would not be copyrightable because they amount to a collection of facts.

The photographs are copyrightable, for one.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584424)

The images of the houses are definitely copyrightable.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (5, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584526)

The decision was quite specific on this. The issue was not about the facts such as address, number of bedrooms, floor space, etc. It stated quite clearly that those were not copyrightable. The issue was the description of the property which are impressions done on prose and the pictures. Both of these a copyrightable.

Re:Not copyrightable in the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584714)

The decision was quite specific on this. The issue was not about the facts such as address, number of bedrooms, floor space, etc. It stated quite clearly that those were not copyrightable. The issue was the description of the property which are impressions done on prose and the pictures. Both of these a copyrightable.

Please someone, mod the parent up.

Century 21 (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583636)

Century 21? What is Gerry Anderson doing selling properties in Australia?

Re:Century 21 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584080)

Century 21? What is Gerry Anderson doing selling properties in Australia?

I don't know, but I wouldn't want to piss off Thunderbirds, Stringray *and* the indestructible Captain Scarlet...

Cut off internet access for"Rogers Communications" (3, Informative)

RichMan (8097) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583672)

Why not treat them like and end user and shut off internet access for the "user".

I would like to see "Rogers Communications", the runner of the site lose access to the internet.

Some how I don't think the court would do that to one of the top ISP's in Canada.
Yet we are likely to see the courts cut off internet access for small end users. Why are the laws not equal? Corporation got people status, but it seems corporations are way above people status when it comes to some laws. That is not fair. And if it would be unfair to cut off access for a corporation then it should be unfair to cut off access for a person.

Re:Cut off internet access for"Rogers Communicatio (2)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583722)

I agree with this sentiment. A weeks internet black hole for Rogers Comm. would send a message their greedy board members will never forget.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:Cut off internet access for"Rogers Communicatio (1)

JimCanuck (2474366) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583856)

Not really, only the subscribers to Rogers would suffer, as they'd use it as a excuse to charge a "Government blocking fee" and increase their profits for that month.

Re:Cut off internet access for"Rogers Communicatio (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584508)

And would not those subscribers/customers who are doing legit business over the web, and who might suffer many thousands in damages from the disconnect, have standing to sue Rogers for their loss of connectivity when it is not their fault, but Rogers actions that got them disconnected?

It seems to me that that the sauce used for the goose should work equally well for the gander. :)

--
Cheers, Gene.

Bye bye www.google.ca (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37583704)

I guess with this precedent, Google has to close its service on Canada.
Not only linking, scraping, page previews, google images... just imagine the damages!

Re:Bye bye www.google.ca (2)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583842)

I think that Google should just blackhole Canada if this ruling stands.

See, back a while ago, the newspapers in Belgium sued Google for copyright infringement, and Google was told by the court to take down the content or face a big fine, per day.

So they did took it down.

Suddenly the Belgian newspapers were screaming bloody murder because they weren't getting hits.

Go ahead, "content creators", kill indexing and searching. Bring it back to the old days of no search engines. I dare you.

--
BMO

Re:Bye bye www.google.ca (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583880)

>third sentence.

I cannot into English.

Re:Bye bye www.google.ca (1)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584062)

Google does not scrape the entirety of a site and put it up on their scraped search... they take a small blurb for you to read, and link to the original site. They do cache sites, but you have to look for the cache link, and most people aren't even aware that they exist. Very different animal.

I suspect that Google isn't in any danger here, because rather than taking business away from the sites they index, they are actually driving more business *to* those sites.

Re:Bye bye www.google.ca (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584440)

From what I understood from TFA, Zoocasa didn't comply with the robots.txt standard, and that was a point considered in the ruling. Since Google does comply with the robots.txt standard, I don't think this ruling can be directly transferred to Google.

Only $250 per picture? (1)

Rehnberg (1618505) | more than 2 years ago | (#37583946)

Seems WAY more reasonable than US copyright court.

Re:Only $250 per picture? (1)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584100)

One reason we don't have many (if any) MPAA/RIAA "copyright infringement" lawsuits up here is that our courts award sane damages based on real lost revenue and injuries. Which is to say, ONE lost sale.

Re:Only $250 per picture? (1)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584222)

The same is true where I live. From a photographer's perspective, it sucks. Some companies steal pictures all the time. When they get away with it, they pay nothing. When dragged before court, they only pay what they should have paid in the first place.

Re:Only $250 per picture? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584540)

The same is true where I live. From a photographer's perspective, it sucks. Some companies steal pictures all the time. When they get away with it, they pay nothing. When dragged before court, they only pay what they should have paid in the first place.

Don't they additionally have to pay court costs?

Good to know. (2)

isilrion (814117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584224)

Last time I was looking for a place to rent, I felt tempted to do something like this. There are several rental websites out there, and you are lucky if their listing overlap... Comparing locations, prices, what was being offered, etc, was a pain. Some sites would at least let you right-click and open in a new tab, but others wouldn't. The maps, sometimes they were google's, sometimes they were bing, and they would never let you overlay the public transit lines on top... And instead of letting you chose a location and radius on the map, some would ask you for the postal code!

So, I toyed with the idea of scraping those sites and build my own database, and build a website from it for others like me (probably sticking some google ads to try to pay for the hosting). I guess it is a good thing I didn't. And it is a shame to know that I can't (and no one else can either). I don't like Rogers and part of me is smiling about this ruling... but if this means that there will be no "google news"-like service for rent hunting, this is another case of copyright preventing useful services from coming to life.

Re:Good to know. (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584598)

You can do something like that. You just have to comply with the Robot Exclusion Standard so that a site that does not want you to index them can make that call. You also can not copy and save too much of each listing.

hmm.. (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584334)

" the court here awarded $1,000 (one thousand dollars) for breach of the Century 21 website's Terms of Use"

We need an "Internet Terms of Use". "Anything on the internet that was meant to be accessible by the public is automatically public domain.

Re:hmm.. (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584434)

We need an "Internet Terms of Use". "Anything on the internet that was meant to be accessible by the public is automatically public domain.

Are you sure that is what you want? It would mean that you could not apply the GPL to downloadable software.

I'm an advocate of abolishing copyright so I'm all in favour of course.

Re:hmm.. (1)

Bengie (1121981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584682)

Nah, I didn't really think it through, but it sounds nice to me :P

I bet it would be more good than bad.

Re:hmm.. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37584494)

That would break a lot of things. For a start, Linux (being GPLed, not public domain) would probably no longer be available on the internet (at least not legally).

Note that public domain includes the possibility for others to take that work and put their name on it instead of yours. I think few people would like that to happen to their work.

And given the craziness of the U.S copyright law, I'd not even be surprised if then that other person could gain copyright on that work and order you to take your work, which now is infringing on their copyright, off the net.

Re:hmm.. (1)

bk2204 (310841) | more than 2 years ago | (#37585448)

Anything on the internet that was meant to be accessible by the public is automatically public domain.

Uh, I don't think that's a good idea. It means that all downloadable software would be in the public domain. It would effectively prevent anyone from putting any sort of creative work online (written, photographic, etc.). The same goes for documentation, news stories, comics, useful web apps, etc. It would probably result in a much more closed web where everybody had to sign up to every site in order to just access it.

My house is up for rent, I still live there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37584368)

Dutch real-estate sites often copy their own content, and this goes in a circle.

I've moved into my rental apartment months ago, but on many sites it's still listed as being "IMMEDIATELY AVAILABLE".

I still get the odd person ringing my doorbell and asking if he could have a look at the apartment.

I run small e-cigarette price comparison site... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37585384)

...and this is greatly upsets me. Started it because It was too tiresome to check prices\search for items manually. VapeGrabber ( http://vapegrabber.com ) is based entirely on scraping at this point of time and I'm wondering if something like this could happen to me.

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