Important legal victory in web-scraping case

Originally published at:


(a 1986 anti-hacking law passed after a moral panic over the movie Wargames )



I don’t know anything about the legal details, and I don’t mean to be glib, but it’s hard not to feel like the system is a lot gentler on skeevy recruitment companies than, oh, say, Aaron Swartz


You’re not wrong but also important is where the case was heard. The Ninth Circuit is generally a bastion of good sense on tech law – other circuits, not so much.


Hiq might have won the battle, but they will lose the war. LI will write a bit of code, and after anyone views more than 10 or so accounts, they will be hit with a captcha or simply have their IP address blocked. If LI wanted to be a bit more clever, they could look for patterns in Hiq access, and block those kinds of access. It might turn into a game of cat-and-mouse, but LI will likely win.

Surely it would be less expensive to find a technical solution than drag the process out in court? Or were they betting that Hiq (is that “hick” or Hi-IQ?) would comply with a cease and desist? Thing is once you issue a cease and desist you need to follow through - otherwise people will see it as a hollow threat.

I’m not sure that I think a website that requires you to assent to a EULA before accessing it should be regarded as “public”.

Provide the bot with some fake data, and when it turns up Hiq’s site, sue them for copyright violation – or whatever IP violation mapmakers do when someone steals one of their fake streets.

1 Like

I’m guessing that LinkedIn and Hiq have been having a technical arms-race while the legal case progressed.

It’s a casualty of cOry’s war on CamelCaps. Per the article, it’s “hiQ,” which is a lot easier to read and pronounce.

You are mossing the bigger picture:

This is how a competitor steals Facebook’s lunch money.

1 Like

That route was made harder with the Feist decision, when the supreme court ruled that facts aren’t protected by copyright. LI would have a hard time claiming copyright over the factual content of user postings.

I wonder if LinkedIn ever used robots.txt to try to prevent the scraping and whether hiQ ever respected robots.txt.

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.