I want to launch a product review aggregation service and need a legal risk estimation.
Please help if you see something illegal in doing the following:
1) Running bots that visit product review sites (maybe a dozen or more) and store review links and content into the service database
2) My website allows to search or browse products and view the reviews in a list like:
- Review title as a direct link to the original site review page with detail information about its origin (the review body is never published on my website)
- 2-3 quotes from the original content
3) The quotes are highlited in a certain way to reflect product advantage or disadvantage?
4) For a specific product quality the service will provide a list of quotes that refer to this quality taken from multiple reviews
5) The service provides product rates and rankings based on the quotes
The behavior is very similar to search engines and may be treated as a review search engine. But certainly review site owners may not like the fact that the service and ranking is built on their content though it isn't republished and only quoted.
Do you see any legal risk with this kind of project? Thank you.
There's always a legal risk in skimming people's content. Whether or not it's enough to get yous sued is an entirely different matter but Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, they've all fought over rights, access and content. Is anyone going to care about your service? Hard to say.
If you offer tools to remove content / opt-out that may help, but it also may put you in a position of expected moderation, which can hurt.
If you use APIs from vendors to access official data they may give you the info under known terms. But not everyone does this.
You don't have to lose a case to lose... defending a suit is not cheap. At the same time there are services out there already aggregating reviews very well (see buzillions.com and most comparison shopping site). Thus it comes down to risk vs reward vs mitigating by doing something in the middle.
To be very clear, this is a forum for the discussion of a topic and theory around it, not practical legal advice. You'll find opinions -- mostly from people far outside of the legal world -- that are good for conversation but if you want actual tactical suggestions about what to do, hire an attorney.