Internet Trespass

Essay by golf_officerUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, November 2006

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A letter to my sister regarding her website idea

Hi Sis,

I think that you may have quite a good idea about an amalgamation site for online dating. It would probably be a good money making site for you if you do it properly. Though I think you should look at what happened to a company called Bidder's Edge. Here is a little information that I researched for you to consider.

Bidder's Edge was a site that had been created to search many online auction sites and compare the prices of similar items sought by its members. E-Bay however did not like what the company was doing and E-Bay sought to prevent Bidder's Edge from crawling its site, claiming that Bidder's Edge was going onto its site 100,000 times a day, thereby placing a burden on its systems. This was not the activity that a typical user could ever generate.

Rather than claim intellectual property infringement, E-Bay alleged that by searching items listed for sale Bidder's Edge was trespassing on its site. Bidder's Edge was not trespassing in the sense of causing damage just by their undesired presence; they were actually doing damage by accessing E-Bay so much that they accounted for a significant percentage of E-Bay's bandwidth. It had nothing to do with linking and everything to do with what amounted to a small-scale Denial of Service bandwidth plus computing resources attack.

The court found that Bidder's Edge had interfered with and "damaged" E-Bay's site - and therefore its place of business. (Wolverton, 2000) Bidder's Edge was forced to cease gaining information about E-Bay's site in that manner, but it was free to pursue another other approaches not directly prohibited in the trial. In other words, the government has supported the view that databases are...