The real estate industry is taking steps to prevent scraping — or data piracy — of online real estate listings.
Realtor.com said earlier this year that it is making efforts to block automated bots from trying to scrape listing data from its more than 1 million pages per day.
“Scraping happens everyday, and it’s something that’s surprisingly inexpensive for cybercriminals to do,” Amit Kulkarni, Move’s creative director, said in a blog post detailing realtor.com’s efforts to curb scraping.
The latest company to step in and join anti-scraping efforts: Distil Networks, a technology company, that says it will be developing an “industrywide intelligence network” for the real estate industry to identify those who scrape real estate listing data without permission, Inman News reports.
To date, 12 MLSs have signed on with the Distil service on their public Web sites and 23 are reportedly considering using the company soon. The program helps to identify scrapers among the legitimate traffic to your site. According to Distil officials, every site that has used its program has discovered scraping of its data.
“I think that anyone that doesn’t feel they have a scraping problem — unless they have the best technology people on staff — is living in a fool’s paradise,” says Rosemary Scardina, CEO of East Bay Regional Data Inc., which became the first MLS to try Distil in beta testing in February. “It wasn’t a matter of if I had a scraping problem, it was a matter of how bad the scraping problem was.” By blocking scrapers from the site, Distill officials say the site was then able to load twice as fast and improved the visitors’ experience.
Clareity Consulting, a real estate consulting firm which approached Distill about creating anti-scraping software for the real estate industry, has also helped to create a new nonprofit organization dedicated to protect the intellectual property rights of multiple listing services and brokerages. One of the main missions of REDPLAN Inc. — Real Estate Data Protection Legal Association Network — is to inform those who scrape MLS data without permission that MLSs will enforce their intellectual property rights. It serves as a network of industry officials that alert one another about data thefts and serves as a legal clearinghouse to decide which cases to actively pursue.
Source: “Coordinated Effort to Target Real Estate Scrapers Underway,” Inman News (Aug.1, 2013)