Are the Yellow Pages Protected by Copyright Law?

YellaBot is Legal Bitches!As the creator of YellaBot, this is something I’ve taken quite seriously.

Before beginning to sell the software, I researched this topic extensively.

After quite a bit of searching, I found quite a few legal cases leading up to the final case in 2010 that set the global precedent.

Here is what I found…

Yellow Pages Takes One Company to Court

Here are some blurbs from the case:

Telstra had argued the Yellow Pages and White Pages listings – including its database of names and addresses – were covered under copyright law and could not be legally copied by other parties.

But Justice Michelle Gordon rejected this argument.

“None of the Works were original,” Justice Gordon said in her judgement this week.”

“None of the people said to be authors of the Works exercised ‘independent intellectual effort’ or ‘sufficient effort of a literary nature’ in creating the (directories).”

“Further, if necessary, the creation of the Works did not involve some ‘creative spark’ or the exercise of the requisite ‘skill and judgment’.”

Full story: Telstra loses copyright case over Yellow Pages and White Pages

You can also see the full court decision here: Copyright Law

Setting a Global Precedent on Copyright Protection of Yellow Pages

So, if you’re concerned over legality of scraping content, the truth is, scraping some content is prohibited while other content is allowable. If you scrape someone’s creative work, you’re breaking the law. This includes most printed work.

It just so happens that the Yellow Pages are not covered by copyright protection.

The Yellow Pages may have Terms of Service that prohibit people from using robotic means to browse their site. However, this is something that they must police themselves as it’s not a legal issue.

This is why it is not uncommon to see the the “Forbidden Access” warning pop-up if YP discovers you scraping content rather than a summons to appear in court.

How to Avoid Throwing Up Any Red Flags

YellaBot does have built-in Proxy support. Even if your IP address does get banned or temporarily blocked from, this is not a major issue for YellaBot users. Simply pop in a new proxy, and off to the races you go.

Or, to make things even easier, you can rotate through multiple proxies. The whole process is very fast, easy and simple with YellaBot.

Do you have your own thoughts about this topic? If so, post them in the comments below.