This decision shores up the good precedent from 2012 and makes clear—if it wasn’t clear already—that violating a corporate computer use policy is not a crime.
Rimini stopped using automatic downloading tools for about a year but then resumed using automated scripts to download support documents and files, since downloading all of the materials manually would have been burdensome, and Oracle sued. The jury found Rimini guilty under both the California and Nevada computer crime statues, and the judge upheld that verdict—concluding that, under both statutes, violating a website’s terms of service counts as using a computer without authorization or permission.
At oral argument in July 2017, Judge Susan Graber pushed back [at around 33:40] on Oracle’s argument that automated scraping was a violation of the computer crime law. And Monday, the 3-judge panel issued a unanimous decision rejecting Oracle’s position. As the court held:
The court even refers to our brief:
We’re happy to see the Ninth Circuit clarify, again, that violating a website’s terms of service is not a crime. And we hope this decision influences another case pending before the court involving an attempt to use a computer crime statute to enforce terms of service and stifle competition, hiQ v. LinkedIn. That case addresses whether using automated tools to access publicly available information on the Internet—information that we are all authorized to access under the Web’s open access norms—is a crime. It’s not, and we hope the court agrees. It will hear oral argument in March in San Francisco.