In a news report today in the Irish Times, it was announced that MyHomes.ie – Ireland’s premier property website – has taken steps to prevent automated web crawlers from extracting property price information from its site. (Note: The Irish Times Ltd. owns MyHome.ie!). They have achieved this sneaky and undemocratic move by embedding the property price right into an image. This is a reaction to sites which look for drops in advertised prices for various properties and then publish the drops for the benefit of the property-buying public.
Myhome.ie’s only justification for this blatant fix was that “MyHome would be in breach of contract with housesellers if it allowed “spurious” data, which was often inaccurate, to be gathered.” And “the lists infringed Myhome’s copyright and breached data protection laws” a spokesman claimed, “and they created confusion with the website’s own reports on property trends”.
Quite frankly, these explanations are complete bollox. There is no copyright issue or data protection issue here: the data is freely published information, freely available, and only consists of price amounts. You cannot copyright euros and cents! Secondly, it is precisely because the web sites were tracking – very successfully – the recent (large) house price drops that they were blocked. It is because they are showing the official figures to be total nonsense! The only “confusion” being created is that barmy statistics are being spoon-fed to the general public via “official” reports from estate agents and property websites that bear absolutely no relationship to what’s happening on the ground.
The bloggers are, naturally, annoyed at this petty move: http://treesdontgrowtothesky.blogspot.com/2007/09/myhome-taking-their-ball-and-going-home.html
I have to say, this move could badly backfire on them. It makes daft.ie (a competitor) look honest and reliable in comparison. They have continued to offer easily-available data and the IT reports them as saying: “It’s information in the public domain so we don’t see why it should be hidden.” Bang on. Go Daft!
Seriously though, when will the official conspiracy against property buyers and ordinary people ever be revealed for what it is: a multi-billion euro scam? The IT continues to publish glowing reports of the property world (but, in fairness, have also published some scary stories too…) while the property websites are beholden to the estate agents. It makes me sick to think of the misinformation, propoganda, cheap sales techniques, and outright scamming that makes up the whole industry. And the Irish Times is doing itself no favours by owning myhome.ie.