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Thread: Querying Database You Don't Own

  1. #1
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    Querying Database You Don't Own

    I was wondering, is it difficult/ethical to effectively 'query' someone else's database via its built in search function. For example, some site has searchable information you would like on your site, but since there is a lot of it you'd either want to get it all and put it in your own database, or be able to query theirs whenever you want.

    Do people do this? Presumably, code would be written in PHP or something that could at least extract relevant information. How would I even begin to write a program that does such a thing? Is this illegal or anything?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    you would probably want to contact the owner, to find out what licensing they have.

  3. #3
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    Some site owners don't mind but request you use another method besides posting cURL variables or something directly to their form. They may have another web service available like REST or SOAP.

    But like chazzy said, safest and best thing to do is just ask.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the quick replies. I'm only familiar with PHP. I've heard of SOAP before, but I'm not sure exactly what it is.

    Where do I begin in my journey to figure out how to query other people databases? Presumably, I don't have the information to connect directly as I am used to doing with PHP, so how is this done?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by auxone
    Is this illegal or anything?
    Unless there is a specific license that grants permission for you to copy the material it is copyright infringement, even if there is no copy symbol. Copyright is given to the owner of any content regardless if they claim it. They can however give that right away hence the licensing system. Creative commons is an example of something fills the gap in content people don't want to sell.

    Fair use can be claimed by educational institutions prviding they don't reduce income from the copyright owner (eg photocopying a book and handing it to students)

    So yea without a license, it's illegal.

    You hit there server often enough their admin going to notice and first off block your IP, next they'll contact your host/ISP who will likely terminate your service. Then maybe you'll get into trouble but it'd be unlikely. You'll most likely get a take down notice.

    Google steals content without permission all the time but they help website owners so who cares!

    Do like Chazzy suggests. If the admin wants to share their content they may have an API already or may facilitate your request with a text or CSV dump. If they don't want to allow access then helping you would be unethical. Although that won't slow some people here down

    Ask them to dump their data to a file you can access and parse. Then you wont be hitting their site repeatedly. Let us know how your inquiries go and if they provide a method of accessing their data, I'm sure someone here can help.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by auxone
    Thanks for the quick replies. I'm only familiar with PHP. I've heard of SOAP before, but I'm not sure exactly what it is.

    Where do I begin in my journey to figure out how to query other people databases? Presumably, I don't have the information to connect directly as I am used to doing with PHP, so how is this done?
    more likely than not, the database isn't even on a publicly accessible IP address. you really need to contact the provider to understand how they can provide you the information without you possibly stealing their stuff.

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