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5.2. Why an API?

When search engines first appeared on the scene, they were more open to being spidered, scraped, and aggregated. Sites like Excite and AltaVista didn't worry too much about the odd surfer using Perl to grab a slice of page, or meta-search engines including their results in their aggregated search results. Sure, egregious data suckers might get shut out, but the search engines weren't worried about sharing their information on a smaller scale.

Google never took that stance. Instead, they have regularly prohibited meta-search engines from using their content without a license, and they try their best to block unidentified web agents like Perl's LWP::Simple module or even wget on the command line. Google has further been known to block IP-address ranges for running automated queries.


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