Top EU court: Ryanair data barrel must be left unscraped

Stag party mover not under Database Directive. Soz...

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair can stop whomever it wishes from scraping content, according to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

PR Aviation – which runs price comparison websites and – had sought to use the EU’s Database Directive to prove that Ryanair was wrong to impose contractual terms prohibiting “screen-scraping”.

The Dutch company used an automated system to extract flight information directly from Ryanair’s online and publicly accessible database, and then charged consumers a commission for booking through its website.

However, Ryanair argued that the comparison company had ticked a box to gain access to agreeing to its terms and conditions which, amongst other things, prohibited the use of an automated system to extract data from the website for commercial purposes.

The EU Database Directive states that if a database is accessible to the public, its maker cannot prevent a lawful user of that database from extracting and reusing parts of its content, and any contractual provision contrary to this must be declared null and void.

The Dutch Supreme court referred the case to the ECJ to find out if the directive was relevant in this case.

The ECJ decided that the law was not applicable since Ryanair’s information database didn’t meet the copyright or sui generis ("of its own kind" or when a unique interpretation of a case is found to be necessary) requirements. ®

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