What happens if you break the Terms and Conditions of a website?

Asked over 1 year ago - San Francisco, CA

Suppose Company X based outside USA wants to create analytics based on processing the content (e.g. reviews, without any user info) taken from other websites based in USA. If the Terms and Conditions of those websites won't allow creation of derivative work (analytics) or scraping (collecting content) without express permission, what could happen to Company X? Would it be sued or amerced? Would the situation be different in case of an individual breaking the terms and conditions of a website?

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Daniel Nathan Ballard

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Q: "Would it be sued or amerced?"
    R: Yes, it could be sued. I don't know what amerced means.

    Q: "Would the situation be different in case of an individual breaking the terms and conditions of a website?"
    R: No.

    The above is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and... more
  2. Ravi M Puri

    Contributor Level 2

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . 1) What could happen to Company X?

    As the Terms and Conditions of each website are different, what could happen to Company X is partially based on what is stated within those terms and partially based on general contract and copyright laws and possible plagiarism and criminal charges, depending upon the amount and severity of the use of third party content by Company X. So, as you suggest the terms do not allow derivative works, there may be additional provisions that indicate what happens if that is violated (e.g. governing law section, remedies section).

    2) Would it be sued or amerced?

    Company X could be sued, once again dependent upon the Terms and Conditions. If it is a U.S. website that is used, if the governing law is within the United States, those laws will apply. 'Amerced' appears to be the English Common Law (e.g. used in England and/or some countries that may have previously been ruled by the British Commonwealth) equivalent of 'fine' in the U.S.. As noted above, there are certain statutory fines under copyright law and possible breach of contract implications that should be considered in addition to criminal law issues that may or may not apply and go beyond just a fine.

    3) Would the situation be different than an individual breaking the Terms and Conditions?

    With respect to the possible laws and fines at issue, no, there is no difference between a Company versus an Individual.

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