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Old 01-11-2005   #1
PatrickRR
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Meta Search Legal Question

With many meta search engines such as Search.com, MetaSearch.com and others.

A couple of questions looking for feedback.

1) Are there any legal issues searching the search engines, since these search engines already save public domain sites?

2) Can a meta search be performed legally on information such as phone numbers in, for example, Yellowpages.com?

I would appreciate feedback, or links to related information.

Thank you,
Patrick
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Old 01-12-2005   #2
andrewgoodman
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatrickRR
With many meta search engines such as Search.com, MetaSearch.com and others.

A couple of questions looking for feedback.

1) Are there any legal issues searching the search engines, since these search engines already save public domain sites?
Yes. Their methods of ranking sites are proprietary, and you require permission to use their data (and to put a load on their servers). Many do not grant this permission, though a number of metasearchers carry on without permission.

Metacrawler and other serious metasearch properties have done it right and secured the necessary permissions. At least the last time I talked with them, which is some time ago now.

Quote:

2) Can a meta search be performed legally on information such as phone numbers in, for example, Yellowpages.com?

I would appreciate feedback, or links to related information.

Thank you,
Patrick
Apologies for the off the cuff reply, but again, insofar as some data provider may have claims to either the underlying data or the means of compiling it, you aren't within your rights to simply "tap in" to other companies' databases without permission.

Then again, certain companies -- some big ones -- will push these limits about as far as they can go. But it certainly isn't "anything goes."

Four years ago I wrote a bit of an arrogant article about this general theme:
The Internet Loves a Content Aggregator
http://www.searchengineguide.com/tra...000911_t1.html

The Internet still does, but the leading aggregators are taking a more careful approach. I look at products like Google Local and Yahoo Local and note that as they put these things together, they're pretty careful about making deals with data sources. Of course, they're in a position to do that.

I am told that the Beastie Boys paid $300,000 to get the rights to some samples for a previous album, and that today the same noises would cost a prohibitive $3,000,000. So have we progressed to the point where content aggregation (and sampling) are less "wild west" than everyone thought they would turn out to be? It seems like it.

I've seen folks "aggregating" content from my website, and of course now realize that the real name for that is stealing. Thou shalt not.
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Old 01-12-2005   #3
dannysullivan
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My legal page has four articles on the topic of meta search, none newer from 2000. I think that's because for the most part, the major services all have agreements with the feeder search engines -- and not hard to get, since the feeders are feeding them both their ads and their listings. Ads suddenly made the major search engines much more friendly to the metas -- plus the fact that the metas don't really amount to a serious competitive threat.

As Andrew said, some carry on even without permission. These are people likely so small that the search engines don't notice them in the way a truck doesn't notice smashing a gnat.

Should a meta search engine not have permission and stand up and get big press attention, then it's likely the majors move to close them down. Seen this happen in one or two cases in the past, but long ago now, and can't recall specific examples.

That same legal page has a section on crawling -- and the Bidder's Edge / eBay case is key here. Bidder's Edge was an meta auction search engine. eBay won a case to block it citing "trespass" issues. Bidder's Edge, even if it was a small burder, was deemed to be putting a burder eBay shouldn't have to deal with. So the legality of who actually owned the data (Bidder's Edge said it was eBay merchants, not eBay) didn't get ruled upon.
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Old 01-12-2005   #4
PatrickRR
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Meta Search

I appreciate your thoughts on this subject.

I have some unique features to offer on the meta-search site I am working on, and will begin by contacting the search engines.

Any additional suggestions for proceeding would be appreciated.

Again, thank you for your insight, and link to your article on this subject.

Regards,
Patrick
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