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Is Web Scraping Legal in France?

Web scraping is generally considered legal in France, as long as it is done for legitimate purposes and does not violate any laws or regulations. In other words web scraping public web data is perfectly legal as long as it's not copyrighted or identifiable EU citizen data (see GDPR below).

Under French data protection laws, personal data can only be collected, used, and shared with the consent of the individuals concerned or if it is done for legitimate reasons. Scraping personal data without consent or without a legitimate reason could be considered a violation of data protection laws.

In terms of intellectual property laws, scraping content from a website without permission could be considered a violation of copyright laws if the content is protected by copyright. However, if the content is considered to be in the public domain or is otherwise not protected by copyright, it can be scraped without permission.

Additionally, the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) has issued guidelines on web scraping, which specify that web scraping should be done in compliance with data protection laws and regulations. It also states that companies should be transparent about their scraping activities and should inform the individuals concerned about the data being collected, used, and shared.

While scraping public data is safe and legal here are some popular laws that can be used to prosecute web scraping in France:

GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

European Union data protection law that impacts personal data collection related to EU citizens. The GDPR requires that companies must have a legal basis for collecting and using personal data. This includes obtaining explicit consent from the individuals concerned, or having a legitimate reason for collecting the data. If a company is scraping personal data from a website, it must have a legal basis for doing so, and it must inform the individuals concerned about the data being collected, used, and shared.

In practice, this law prevents scraping of personal user data as acquiring consent is very impractical. It's worth noting that even if certain pieces of information, such as names, are removed, the data may still be considered personal data if it can be used to identify an individual through other means, such as through a combination of other data points. For example, if a dataset contains information such as email addresses, age, location, and occupation, it could still be considered personal data under GDPR, even if the names have been removed.

GDPR is a relatively new law and there are still many unanswered questions about how it applies to web scraping. However, it is generally considered to be a very strict law and it's best to avoid scraping personal data until more information is available.

Just like most copyright frameworks EU copyright laws protect literary, artistic, and scientific works, including text, images, and videos. This means that if the content is protected by copyright, it can only be scraped with the permission of the copyright holder. However, if the content is considered to be in the public domain or is otherwise not protected by copyright, it can be scraped without permission.

Sui Generis Database Protection

EU law also provides protection for sui generis database protection, it applies to databases that by reason of the selection or arrangement of their contents constitute the author's own intellectual creation. This means that if the database was created by someone and it constitutes an original work, the person who created it has the right to prevent extraction and re-utilization of the contents of that database.

There's no precedence for this law being used to prosecute web scraping, but it's worth noting that it could be used to prosecute web scraping if the scraped data is considered to be an original database.

There aren't many notable cases directly related to web scraping in France, but there are some notable cases that are related to fair use and GDPR. In France, these laws are pursued by The Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libert├ęs (CNIL).

CNIL is the French data protection authority responsible for enforcing data protection laws and regulations in France. The CNIL is responsible for ensuring that companies comply with French data protection laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the French Data Protection Act (Loi Informatique et Libert├ęs).

When it comes to web scraping, the CNIL may take action against companies that collect and use personal data from websites without a legal basis, or that fail to implement appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect personal data.

The CNIL has issued guidelines on web scraping, which specify that web scraping should be done in compliance with data protection laws and regulations. It also states that companies should be transparent about their scraping activities and should inform the individuals concerned about the data being collected, used, and shared.

The CNIL has the power to conduct investigations and audits, and can impose fines and penalties for non-compliance with data protection laws and regulations.