What is website scraping, and how to avoid it?
Website scraping is when you extract data from a different website(s) and format it into another database or spreadsheet to analyze. There are multiple advantages and disadvantages of website scraping. It can be done manually by the user or by a bot. There are many methods and applications to scrape a website, although it can be challenging as most big websites do not allow web scraping. If there are any issues with changing the code during web scraping, it could cause many legal issues.
Techniques for web scraping
There is manual scraping and automatic scraping.
Manual scraping is copy-pasting web content copy and pasting web content. All you have to do is copy and paste information. Although, this technique is usually not used because it is time-consuming, and content sections stand the potential of being missed.
Efficiency=quality of data extracted. XML path language works on XML files. XPath can navigate the tree by selecting nodes based on various parameters, also used with DOM parsing. A general application to scrape is Google Sheets. Scrapers can use IMPORT XML and transfer specific data onto the spreadsheet.
How to web scrape
You can web scrape using python.
- Find the URL that you want to scrape
- Inspecting the Page
- Find the data you want to extract
- Write the code
- Run the code and extract the data
- Store the data in the required format
An example of web scraping includes extracting data from a website to get information about names, prices, exports, imports, etc. Many companies use this, and even if you copy and paste something from the internet, you are web scraping.
Advantages of web scraping
Advantages of web scraping include extracting data accurately, such as historical data and effectively, web scraping as a financial investment, and extracting large amounts of data in an orderly fashion. It's also low maintenance and cost-effective since you can use programs to web scrape, and it doesn't cost a lot of money.
Disadvantages of web scraping
Disadvantages of web scraping include using web scraping software to extract the data itself, learning programming languages (which could be pretty tricky), and paying for a web developer if you don't know how to program or do not have the time. In addition, the data that you have to analyze after retrieving it is incredibly time-consuming. There are also lots of protection policies on web scraping.
How to prevent web scraping
“You may only use or reproduce the content on the Website for your own personal and non-commercial use. The framing, scraping, data-mining, extraction or collection of the content of the Website in any form and by any means whatsoever is strictly prohibited. Furthermore, you may not mirror any material contained on the Website.”
Allowing CAPTCHAs, blocking companies, and people you know are prone to web scraping on your website and putting your data in an image rather than the text itself are all pretty good ways to prevent web scraping.
What to do if a website is scraped?
Oh no! Has your website been scraped? No worries, let's figure out what to do when a website is scraped. First, you will need to stop the content. You can:
1. Run a Whois Lookup and discover who owns the domain. This can get tricky if it's an international owner from some random country (like Bulgaria in our case). There should be an email address associated with who owns the domain. If you find an email, move on to the second step.
2. Send an informal cease-and-desist. No, nothing about this should be legal. However, contact the website owner first and ask them to remove the site or the duplicated content. Of course, they might claim the scraping happened out of ignorance and remove the content or scraped material entirely. But you should at least reach out to them first.
3. Go to the domain or hosting company directly. If you don't have the admin contact's email address, you can see the domain registrar or the hosting company for the website. Try contacting both companies and let them know one of their domains is stealing copyrighted content. The companies should run a quick diagnostic to confirm your story and then possibly suspend or remove it.
4. File a complaint with Google via DMCA. Or you can always go straight to Google itself. Any website or content owner who thinks another organization has stolen their website can ask Google to deindex pages with the stolen content under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The tech behemoth might take a while to process your claim of alleged copyright infringement, but it's better than not filing the claim.
Takeaway on Web Scraping
Whether it is competitively commercially/non-commercially, it is still vital in specific sectors. For example, it is Important to extract scientific data or essential information for data analytics. Content cannot be stolen and copied but only extrapolated if permissible.
Scraping for illegal reasons results in duplicating data on the web and can financially affect businesses worldwide. There are many unlawful reasons where complete websites and web page URLs are scraped. While web scraping happens, it's good to know it without applying it. If you know what web scraping is, you would understand it well enough to protect yourself from it.
Stay safe on the internet!