How to Safeguard against Scraping of Prices, SKUs

Many ecommerce merchants provide a considerable number of SKUs through their shops. Inputting those SKUs to a database can be a time and labor intensive procedure. In addition, it can be incredibly costly.

Moreover, ecommerce storeowners invest a significant period of time ensuring that the goods represented by these SKUs appear within an eye-catching and practical manner on their sites. That’s the reason it is important to comprehend ways to protect the investment in your website database material from nefarious competitors.

I see theft of this form of information in mostly two contexts. First, storeowners will frequently scratch prices from their competitors’ websites. By analyzing this information, storeowners can decrease their cart abandonment rates, obtain insight into their opponents’ stock, and ensure that their products are competitively priced — on the fly.

… it’s important to comprehend ways to protect the investment in your website database material from nefarious competitors.

Secondly, corrupt merchants will often use this kind of information to clone a competitor’s site, from its appearance and feel, which can be tried and tested, to its product list. Cloning sites in this way allows a prospective merchant to get an unfair advantage in the market by utilizing a formula that’s been demonstrated to work, without the costs and time associated with testing and startup.

Ecommerce storeowners can protect against these kinds of tactics by implementing a terms-of-use arrangement tailored for their company and by regularly filing for copyright registration of the website content. I will deal with all of those protections in turn.

Copyright Protection

It’s worth covering copyright protection of databases . Terms-of-use agreements become a significant instrument because of the fact that only limited copyright protection is extended to databases. As a general rule, copyright protection doesn’t extend to facts, and databases, like SKUs and product listings, are primarily comprised of facts.

Combing SKUs and product lists to a database doesn’t itself render the database copyrightable. If a database includes content aside from facts, such as product descriptions, copyright protection can extend to that content supplied it is composed of original, creative expression.

If the selection, arrangement, or business of a database is sufficiently creative, copyright law may protect it. Copyright protection extends, but only to the selection, structure, or business rather than to the underlying facts contained within the database.

Consequently, if a competitor scratches your product database, rather than your product descriptions, and then rearranges it into its selection and arrangement, it may not constitute copyright infringement. If, however, a competitor simply replicates your database, the backup might be infringing and it could be possible to sue for copyright infringement.

This is why it’s necessary to apply for copyright registration of your site content on a regular basis. Copyright registration has numerous advantages, such as providing the registrant with the ability to file a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement and to get up to $150,000 in statutory damages per work infringed, plus costs and attorneys’ fees.

Copyright registration is fast and effortless. Butif you do not file for protection before infringement or within three months of publication, you may lose your ability to obtain statutory damages. Because of this, I typically recommend that ecommerce owners document for copyright registration of the whole website content every 3 months.

Terms-of-use Agreements

If a competitor only limiting facts from your product database and rearranges these details, copyright law probably does not apply. In these instances, the best protection against theft is a well-drafted terms-of-use arrangement. Storeowners frequently take terms-of-use arrangements for granted. But they can be incredibly powerful tools in protecting against lawsuits against end users and in prosecuting anti-competitive activities by competitors.

In the case of price or SKU scraping, a terms-of-use arrangement could give a storeowner with a breach of contract cause of action. A well-drafted terms-of-use agreement will have a provision that restricts the permit to use the web site, which can be granted to the end user, to natural (human) people, and it’ll explicitly prohibit bots and scratching tools from accessing the site.

Scraping can be tricky to detect, butif it’s detected, the breach of the terms-of-use agreement may be utilised as a basis for a breach of contract case. And, in a dispute involving rivals, the non-scraping party may learn, through discovery, that its rival has been scratching its site. In these circumstances, a breach of contract claim could add extra leverage to force a settlement of this litigation.

This is a very limited description of the advantages of embracing a terms-of-use arrangement and for filing for copyright protection. However, these are very real issues that I encounter frequently. As always, speak with a lawyer for legal advice specific to your situation.