Skip to content

Is Web Scraping Legal in Canada?

Web scraping is legal in Canada and the usual web scraping laws and regulations apply: scraping of public or personal data is legal, but scraping of private or copyrighted data can be illegal. Canada shares similar copyright and privacy laws with the US and EU, so the same rules apply to web scraping in Canada.

Like any other copyright law this law protects the rights of creators of original works, including websites, so scraping a website may infringe on the copyright of the website owner if it reproduces (copies) copyrighted content without permission.

Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

This law regulates the collection and use of personally identifiable information such names, addresses etc. However, it doesn't directly relate to web scraping if these details are already publicly available on the website. That being said, storing and using this acquired data can be legally complicated or even illegal.

Notable Cases

Legal precedence is yet to be established in Canada regarding web scraping. However, there have been a few notable cases:

Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc. (2017)

While this case isn't directly related to web scraping it is related to indexing and repurposing of public data

In 2017, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the case of Equustek Solutions Inc. v. Google Inc. that Google must remove certain search results globally that linked to websites that were infringing on Equustek's trade secrets. This case set a precedent for Canadian courts to be able to order search engines to de-index websites that are in violation of Canadian laws. 1

Century 21 v Rogers Communications (2011)

Zoocasta (parent company Rogers Communications) was indexing Century 21 website that featured real estate listings and was sued for damages. Zoocasta scraped and copied property listings and descriptions which were violation of Century 21's Terms of Use.

The court only awarded nominal damages for breach of contract in the amount of $1,000 and statutory damages of $32,000. The Court also granted a permanent injunction against Zoocasta.

The key note here is that the court ruled in favor of the plaintiff even if no click-through ToS agreements were made (i.e. scraper didn't login or accepted ToS explicitly) arguing that Zoocasta was aware of the ToS because they have similar ToS on their own website. 2