Reports on ROSS Vs Westlaw / Westlaw vs ROSS report

Thomson Reuters, ROSS Fight Highlights Potential Risk in Data Scraping Practices

While data scraping is common in legal research, many companies have to navigate around copyrighted data and proprietary platforms. Sometimes, that can be easier said than done.

Last week Thomson Reuters sued legal research platform ROSS alleging that the startup, via a third party, used a bot to siphon Westlaw’s copyrighted material, which it then leveraged to train its AI systems.

A day after the suit was filed, ROSS CEO and co-founder Andrew Arruda denied the allegations in a post published on Medium. While Arruda acknowledged it started working with a third party in 2017, which obtained and passed on content to help ROSS train its AI system, he said no proprietary or copyrighted information was taken.

To be sure, while collecting proprietary content without permission isn’t common in the legal research industry, data scraping is, and will remain, a regular occurrence.

“Data crawling is ubiquitous in legal technology and it’s ubiquitous in the internet as well,” noted Rick Merrill, founder and CEO of legal analytics software Gavelytics, who spoke as an industry participant with no inside knowledge regarding the ROSS-Thomson Reuters matter.

Exiger global markets president Brandon Daniels also called data scraping “a necessity,” adding that “there are ways to do it that doesn’t harm the cyber posture of companies and publishers and there are ways to do it that are fair use.”

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