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Judge Throws Out X’s Lawsuit Against Bright Data

Elon Musk at Viva Technology (Vivatech) 2023

A California federal judge has tossed a lawsuit by Elon Musk's X against Bright Data over collecting public online data and how it is used.

X's lawsuit accused Bright Data of using complex techniques to circumvent X's anti-scraping technologies to gather data from the platform it allegedly sold.

The social media giant claimed Bright Data violated its terms of service.

It also accused the Israel-based company of infringing copyright by scraping data from its platform. 

X sought over $1 million in damages in a separate case related to data scraping activities involving Texas residents.

Judge William Alsup dismissed the claims, writing: “X Corp. wants it both ways: to keep its safe harbors yet exercise a copyright owner’s right to exclude, wresting fees from those who wish to extract and copy X users’ content.”

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He ruled giving social networks complete control over the collection and use of public web data “risks the possible creation of information monopolies that would disserve the public interest. 

Alsup added X was not “looking to protect X users’ privacy.

He said he was “happy to allow the extraction and copying of X users’ content so long as it gets paid.”

Scraping publicly available data is generally permissible in the US.

This is according to a 2022 decision involving LinkedIn that set a precedent for such activities.

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The dismissal echoes a similar outcome in a prior complaint lodged by Meta against Bright Data, which also ended in Bright Data's favor. 

Judge: “X Corp. wants it both ways: to keep its safe harbors yet exercise a copyright owner’s right to exclude, wresting fees from those who wish to extract and copy X users’ content.”

Bright Data called the ruling a victory against Meta and X and said public information online “belongs to all of us, and any attempt to deny the public access will fail.”

It defended its practices by stating that it only collects publicly visible data and does not require login credentials for access. 

The firm said: “What is happening now is unprecedented, the implications impact general business, research, AI and beyond.”

As of the ruling, X's representatives did not comment on the decision. 

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