posted Jan 12, 2001

Tough Times for Data Robots
General IP Issues
1/12/2001; 11:11:00 AM 'In that case, Judge Ronald M. Whyte relied on the ancient law of trespass to chattels to temporarily ban an Internet company from using a "bot" to invade and copy auction listings from the computer system of eBay, the auction giant.

'Now a federal judge in Manhattan has picked up on the trespass idea and altered its requirements a bit, making it even easier for companies to use the law to stop the pesky software critters, some lawyers say.'

I still don't like the use of the tresspass doctrine to justify this, and now the judge has removed the need to show damage in these cases... which just goes to show that tresspass is not the right doctrine, it's time for a new one. ('Course, I'm just a code monkey.)

'Michael A. Jacobs, a lawyer for Vario, said in an interview that Judge Jones, in effect, said that a showing of present harm was no longer a necessary requirement for trespassing on a computer web site. "In eBay, they showed a 1 or 2 percent" crunch on eBay's system capacity, he said. In his case, even though's allegation of 2 percent "blew up," he added, "the judge found a sufficient risk of harm. It was literally unprecedented."'


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