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Elon Musk's X Loses Lawsuit Against Bright Data

A federal judge in California has ruled in favor of Israel's Bright Data, dismissing a lawsuit brought by Elon Musk's X
May 13, 2024

A federal judge in California has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Elon Musk's X against Israel's Bright Data, marking a significant development in the case involving the scraping of public online data and its permissible use.

Formerly known as Twitter, X accused Bright Data of scraping data from its platform and selling it, using sophisticated techniques to circumvent X Corp.'s anti-scraping measures. X also alleged that Bright Data violated its terms of service and copyright.

Data scraping, the automated collection of data from publicly accessible websites, serves various purposes, including training artificial intelligence models and targeting online advertisements. While generally legal in the U.S. when it involves scraping publicly available data, a 2022 ruling, following a prolonged legal battle involving LinkedIn, established this precedent.

X had initially sought over $1 million in damages from unidentified defendants for unlawfully scraping data related to Texas residents, according to a lawsuit filed in Dallas County.

In his dismissal of the complaint, Judge William Alsup stated, "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."

The judge warned against granting social networks full control over the collection and utilization of public web data, expressing concerns about the potential creation of information monopolies detrimental to the public interest. He further criticized X, stating that the company wasn't interested in protecting its users' privacy but rather was content to permit the extraction and copying of users' content as long as it was compensated.

A representative for X has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Previously, Meta, formerly Facebook, filed a similar complaint against Bright Data, which was also unsuccessful.

In an emailed statement, Bright Data asserted that its victories against Meta and X underscore the principle that public information online belongs to everyone, and any attempt to restrict public access will ultimately fail.

Bright Data maintains that it only scrapes publicly available data accessible to anyone without requiring a login. At the time of the lawsuit's filing, X had made the information scraped by Bright Data available to anyone.

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