Metasearch is illegal…. or is it?

A friend of mine sent me to a cool meta-search engine which looked just like the ones I’d seen back in the late 90s and I thought to myself “these are illegal right?”

Anyway, I looked up Google Terms of Service and it seems very clear:
http://www.google.com/terms_of_service.html

  • No Automated Querying
    You may not send automated queries of any sort to Google’s system without express permission in advance from Google. Note that “sending automated queries” includes, among other things:
    * using any software which sends queries to Google to determine how a website or webpage “ranks” on Google for various queries;
    * “meta-searching” Google; and
    * performing “offline” searches on Google.
    Please do not write to Google to request permission to “meta-search” Google for a research project, as such requests will not be granted.

I pinged my pal Danny Sullivan and he pointed me to the EBAY vs. Bidders Edge case and the fact that metasearch has rarely gone to court.

Of course, it feels really unfair to use three people’s resource to make your own–at least without their permission.

More:
http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9595_22-519959.html
http://legal.web.aol.com/decisions/dldecen/ebay.html
http://pub.bna.com/lw/21200.htm
http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/4_302591

I love how the same ideas come around in different forms every four years as something new in our industry. 🙂

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