Stewart Brand may have said “information wants to be free,” but some companies don’t want it to be so free that rivals can profit from it. Online financial research publisher Morningstar is being sued by rival NewRiver for allegedly screen-scraping its web-based data to build its own service.
NewRiver crawls 1,000 mutual fund prospectus every night on the SEC’s EDGAR website, and sells its up-to-date info via a $500,000 annual subscription. But the company’s lawsuit claims Morningstar scraped the service more than 130,000 times between May and December, Reuters reports. Morningstar admits checking NewRiver’s info to ensure its own offering is up to date, but denies crafting its own service from NewRiver’s info and says it’s never used info from a password-protected site. Morningstar spokesperson (via Reuters): “We think the lawsuit has one purpose: to discourage Morningstar from competing with NewRiver.” NewRiver clients don’t use passwords but, rather, a unique URL.