Internet entrepreneur accused of large data theft
January 16, 2009
An Internet entrepreneur has formally been accused of stealing thousands of data files that would enable him to start a competing company that would offer similar services as that provided by consumer rating service Angie's List, the company that is accusing Christopher Cody of commiting the crime.
In a lawsuit filed in Indiana state court, attorneys for Angie's List claim Christopher (nick-named "Kit") Cody became a paying member of the site and then used so-called scraping software to mine reports it provided on plumbers, dentists and roofers.
Cody then allegedly used the data records for a competing site that he called Trustys.com.
An attorney for Cody disputed the allegations. "We consider it industrial espionage," a spokeswoman for Angie's List said. "He came in to use technology to basically cut and paste reports illegally."
Angie's List boasts more than 750,000 consumers who use the site to screen companies offering services in more than 400 different categories. The website, which is something of a Yelp focusing on consumer services, has been expanding rapidly in the U.S.
Overall, members can submit reports, which are then relied upon by other members of the site.
The lawsuit claims Cody accessed no less than 9,278 service-provider files from the Web site using a "bot" during multiple sessions spread over many days.
During a single two-hour period in early December 2008, he harvested more than 2,450 profiles, IndyStar.com reported.
A hearing on the matter is scheduled for Feb. 5.
A lawyer for Cody said "we vehemently dispute all allegations and we intend to defend ourselves vigorously, and with all means at our disposal."
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