Sunday, May 18, 2014

eBay, Inc. v. Bidder’s Edge, Inc. case brief summary

eBay, Inc. v. Bidder’s Edge, Inc.

FACTS:  Bidder’s Edge searches eBay’s servers using web-crawlers. EBay tries to stop this using an extension header, which should function like a stop sign, and if you’re a well behaved robot, you should stop (i.e., it is a social norm). EBay could also try to keep the bots out by blocking further requests from specific IPs, but because IPs are dynamic, this could end up blocking several thousand users. Ebay sues to try to stop Bidder’s Edge from searching site.

(a) Analogies: (1)To show trespass on things (chattels), they must show proximate cause; (2) Trespass on land is an automatic tort; (3) Note: Conversion won’t work, because nothing has been physically taken away.
(b) Holding: Trespass on chattels analogy works. The harm experienced by eBay is the increased traffic on their servers. If other bots crawled the site as well, then eBay would lose significant bandwidth, and its servers would be slowed down. (i.e. this would essentially rob eBay of control of its own servers).
(c) Note: The cause of action probably wouldn’t have been sustained if the only injury suffered was the fact that the bots crawled the site when eBay said not to.
(d) Policy Consideration: This case raises an important policy consideration. How do you draw the line when you’re defining loss of bandwidth as the harm?

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