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Federal Court Dismisses X’s Data Scraping Claims

Client Updates / Jun 02, 2024

Written by: Haim Ravia and Dotan Hammer

A federal court in California dismissed the lawsuit filed by X (formerly Twitter) against Israeli company Bright Data, after finding that X failed to prove its claims of breach of contract. The lawsuit, in the U.S. Federal District Court for the Northern District of California, alleged that Bright Data scraped and sold X’s data, used complex tools to circumvent X’s anti-scraping technology, and encouraged its users to participate in the scraping, all in violation of X’s terms. X’s claims included breach of contract, tortious interference, unjust enrichment, trespass to chattels, violations of California Business and Professions Code Section 17200, and misappropriation.

The judge held that the Copyright Act preempted X’s breach of contract and other state law claims. X’s assertions that the sale of data scraping tools constitutes fraud and that Bright Data violated a contract were rejected. Additionally, the court found X’s attempt to claim copyright on user information inconsistent with the law, as X, being a non-exclusive license of the user, cannot prohibit others from using the data. Enforcing state claims would hinder fair use and effectively grant X copyright ownership of content not protected by the Copyright Act, according to the court.

The court noted that X’s users, not X, hold the rights to the content, and X’s terms prohibiting scraping were insufficient to prevent others from using the data. The court warned that allowing companies like X to control data access could create information monopolies. Additionally, the court dismissed X’s trespass to chattels claim, finding that X did not adequately allege that Bright Data’s access caused damage. Using a scraper was deemed no more burdensome than a user accessing X’s servers with a browser. X’s claims under California’s unfair competition law were also dismissed, as the court found no fraudulent business act by Bright Data, effectively allowing the scraping and Bright Data to work around X’s anti-scraping technology.

The court dismissed X’s claim that Bright Data induced its users to breach their agreements, citing a lack of viable damage. Lastly, the court found X did not allege specific damage from Bright Data’s unauthorized access, only alluding to diminished capacity and reputational harm without details.

Click here to read the decision in X Corp. v. Bright Data Ltd. (N.D. Cal. May 9, 2024).