Yelp Claims Google Broke Legal Promise Not To Scrape Content

Yelp's most recent letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asserts that Google improperly uses images in its local search results, violating a 2013 antitrust settlement with the regulatory agency.

The letter sent to the FTC Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen late Sunday follows "formal requests" sent directly to Google, according to one report.

Yelp alleges Google broke a "promise" it made as part of the settlement intended to ensure that it would not scrape content from third-party sites that opted out.

Google agreed to give online advertisers more flexibility to simultaneously manage ad campaigns on the Google AdWords platform and on rival ad platforms. It also agreed to stop misappropriating online content from “vertical” websites that focus on specific categories such as shopping or travel for use on its own sites.



With a little research, Yelp found that in about one hour Google pulled images from its servers nearly 386,000 times for business listings in Google Maps, reports The Wall Street Journal. Apparently Google is exempt from scraping content for Maps.

data management"Yelp then searched Google for 150 of the businesses from those map listings and found that for 110 of them, Google used a Yelp photo as the lead image in the businesses’ listings in search results," according to the report.

In one example, the WSJ reports that googling “brooklyn zoo williamsburg” on a smartphone yielded a box on top of the search results with information about the Brooklyn Zoo NY gym in Brooklyn, including its address, hours and reviews. A photo of inside the gym was pulled from Yelp's page. Another example includes photos from Mount Sinai Hospital in Chicago and the Capital Mall in Olympia, Washington, pulled from Yelp.

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