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Musk's X Corp loses lawsuit against Israeli data-scraping company

Published 05/10/2024, 11:12 AM
Updated 05/10/2024, 01:25 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: 'X' logo is seen on the top of the headquarters of the messaging platform X, formerly known as Twitter, in downtown San Francisco, California, U.S., July 30, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
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By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge dismissed a lawsuit in which Elon Musk's X Corp accused an Israeli data-scraping company of illegally copying and selling content, and selling tools that let others copy and sell content, from the social media platform.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco ruled on Thursday that X, formerly Twitter, failed to plausibly allege that Bright Data Ltd violated its user agreement by allowing the scraping and evading X's own anti-scraping technology.

Alsup said using scraping tools is not inherently fraudulent, and giving social media companies free rein to decide how public data are used "risks the possible creation of information monopolies that would disserve the public interest."

The judge also said X was not entitled to "de facto copyright ownership" in copyrighted content that X's users made available to the public.

Lawyers for X did not immediately respond on Friday to requests for comment.

Or Lenchner, Bright Data's chief executive, said in a statement: "Bright Data's victory over X makes it clear to the world that public information on the web belongs to all of us, and any attempt to deny the public access will fail."

Alsup said X can try to amend its complaint, which sought unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract, trespass and misappropriation. The San Francisco-based company sued Bright Data last July.

In January, another San Francisco judge ruled that Bright Data had not violated Meta Platforms (NASDAQ:META)' terms of service by scraping data from Facebook and Instagram. Meta ended its lawsuit against Bright Data a month later.

Then in March, another San Francisco judge dismissed X's lawsuit against the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate, which published articles based on scraped data that faulted a rise in hate speech on the platform.

X claimed that the articles were scaring away advertisers, costing it millions of dollars, and has appealed the decision.

© Reuters. July 30, 2023. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion in October 2022. His other businesses include electric car company Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA).

The case is X Corp v Bright Data Ltd, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 23-03698.

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