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Keep your bots to yourself [software law]

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1 Author(s)
Graham, Larry ; Black Lowe & Graham, Seattle, WA, USA

There are now a variety of Web bots or spiders available to scour the Web to automatically gather information. Bots, sometimes called agents when they are instructed to perform particular searches, are useful in performing the time-consuming and repetitive searches required to gather comparison data or to find an elusive item. In some cases, agents can not only find information but can make a purchase or take another action based on the data they collect. Although bots are great for consumers, some Internet retailers hate them. Just as a brick and mortar store wants potential customers to walk in the door, Web retailers want potential customers to personally view their sites. Once there, consumers might purchase the initial products they were seeking and then see advertisements or buy accessories, upgrades, or unrelated additional items as well. Because bots can reduce or eliminate these possibilities, some Internet retailers are trying to stop them. It's one thing to be upset about bots, spiders, agents, and data miners, but it is quite another to put an end to the practice. It should come as no surprise that federal and state laws in the US do not expressly mention bots. Those seeking to challenge their use must resort to a variety of more generic laws, none of which fit very well

Published in:

Software, IEEE  (Volume:17 ,  Issue: 6 )