Regulating Website Access for Automated Means Such as Search Bots and Agents: Property or Contract?

Contemporary Issues in Law, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 360-374, 2005/2006

19 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2007  

Martine Boonk

VU University Amsterdam

Arno R. Lodder

Vrije Universiteit - Dep. Transnational Legal Studies - CLI/Center for Law and Internet

Abstract

This paper deals with legal issues concerning website access for software agents, notably the question how terms and conditions on a website can be presented in such a way that software agents and other automated programs exploring the internet can adhere to them. We discuss the technology behind requesting website content, and indicate for what reasons website owners regulate access to their web sites.

The core of the paper analyses the legal grounds for applying terms and conditions to websites: property rights and contractual duties. In our discussion we take into account the theory of browse-wrap licenses and case law from both Common Law and Civil Law countries. We also argue that under specific circumstances, the mere visiting of a website may constitute a contract.

The question as to whether what holds for human users also holds for automated means is given special attention. Finally, we introduce ways to more effectively regulate website access for automated means.

Keywords: website access, property, contract, search bots, agents

JEL Classification: K10, K11, K12

Suggested Citation

Boonk, Martine and Lodder, Arno R., Regulating Website Access for Automated Means Such as Search Bots and Agents: Property or Contract?. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1007183

Martine Boonk (Contact Author)

VU University Amsterdam ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, ND North Holland 1081 HV
Netherlands

HOME PAGE: http://cli.vu

Arno R. Lodder

Vrije Universiteit - Dep. Transnational Legal Studies - CLI/Center for Law and Internet ( email )

De Boelelaan 1105
Amsterdam, 1081HV
Netherlands

Paper statistics

Downloads
149
Rank
162,416
Abstract Views
1,263