Apps, Bots and Workarounds – Part 3


Here is the last case in our trio:

MLS Database – As a follow-up to our earlier post ( Data Mining Decision), you may recall the story of a real estate broker who tried to repackage the MLS listings controlled by the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB).  The TREB controls the database for residential resale listings (the MLS database) for its approximately 25,000 member real estate agents and brokers.  Fraser Beach was one such broker who developed a workaround to pull the data from TREB’s database, and then redisplay it to the public through his own site.  The TREB cut off his access and Mr. Beach sued the TREB. The court agreed that the TREB was justified in terminating access since this “end-run” violated the authorized use terms that Mr. Beach had agreed to as a member of the TREB. In Fraser Beach v. Toronto Real Estate Board, 2010 ONCA 883, decided in December 2010, the Ontario Court of Appeal upheld this decision. 

Lessons for business? The TREB’s well-drafted Authorized User Agreement specified that use of the database was permitted “for the purposes expressly specified in this Agreement and for the exclusive and internal use by Authorized User“. This was critical to the court’s conclusion that Mr. Beach’s use was a violation of these terms. Companies in the business of licensing database access should take care to have their licenses and authorized use terms reviewed to keep up with technological advances and new methods of obtaining unauthorized access to the data.

Calgary – 07:00 MST

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