But making a big deal out of being some kind of ux hero is pretty tacky. At the end of the day, no matter how small you are you're still a commercial enterprise gaining benefit at another commercial enterprise's expense. You're bidding on eyeballs with an offer of time savings.
A vast majority of the web deliberately degrades their user experience in order to achieve business goals. Ads are almost always at least somewhat distracting, retailers stretch out checkout flows for up selling, sites "recommend" their high margin items ebay requires paypal and facebook sabotages their privacy management so you're less likely to bother.
If CL was to build a bunch of sweet vertical specific apps for their sections they'd need a ton more developers, designers, testers, project managers and so on. To compensate for the greatly increased burn rate they'd need to monetize a lot better which almost always means features, content or policies that negatively impact the user. Or maybe they'd have just taken too much VC to pay for it and gone under in '02 when the bottom fell out.
So by all means jockey away it's healthy for the industry. But crowing about it is a bit like taking a shit on the guy whose shoulders you're standing on while bragging about how tall you are.
1. To feel or show deferential regard for; esteem.
2. to pay proper attention to; not violate "to respect Swiss neutrality"
3. to show consideration for; treat courteously or kindly
One can respect Craigslist for their history, and what they have done for the online community in the past, without conceding the right to say that they're wrong now, and that you'll be proceeding without their blessing.
One can also respect and understand Craigslist's objection to Padmapper scraping their site, without conceding that the good vastly outweighs whatever valid concerns may exist.
Respect is a complicated social concept, the colloquial usage of the word even more so. Using dictionary definitions to try and corner complex social phenomena is at best a poor idea, at worst an attempt at being disingenuous.
 at least on the newsgroups i used to frequent
With respect to your definition, I submit that you misunderstand the element that differentiates respect from admiration, appreciation or value. Further debate seems unhelpful, whatever you call it it's the same behavior.
>But then I did some back of the envelope estimates of how much of people’s time and effort it would waste if I didn’t, and it became clear how much less nice it is to waste the time of millions of apartment hunters out of stubbornness or some clearly inaccurate assumption about the will of the community.
Christ, what an asshole.
Translation: "We found a loophole that lets us get around the spirit of what was communicated to us so we could continue to build out our product. I'm going to conveniently step over the moral grey lines of using someone else's data without their consent by claiming my service is better."
Just… don't dance around your motivations here. You want to build a better service, and you need CL's data for that. CL doesn't want you to use their data. You said that's too bad.
That's all there is to say.
Let's be frank and direct: you're being a dick to Craigslist, and you're doing it so you can build a better product.
I even agree with that decision--Craigslist has brought it upon itself by creating what is (IMO) a mediocre and clearly substandard UI. But your choice is what it is. Embrace it.
I mean, imagine I was reading the Craigslist apartment listings for my own housing search, and I knew you were looking for 3-bedroom Craigslist listings in a given neighborhood, so every time I saw one I sent you the link. Heck, imagine I even charged money for that service. In what universe am I being a dick to Craigslist? How on earth does that follow?
I understand that it's a little different here because Craigslist has asked PadMapper not to help people out that way. But the information PadMapper is passing on, it's not getting from Craigslist anymore. It's getting it from a third party. So it's the equivalent of me saying, "hey, you know you were looking for a 3-bedroom in that neighborhood? I'm not allowed to visit Craigslist myself, but a dude told me about these pages on Craigslist you might want to check out." There is purely no way that this constitutes dickish behavior toward Craigslist, and Craigslist has no moral right to forbid it.
> "Disintermediation -- getting your users used to coming to my site to look at your data is the first step to making you irrelevant and forgettable. PM knows who the renters and the listers are; it's a small step to convince some listers to list with PM first. Maybe PM will agree to repost on CL as well, but as long as listers come to PM first, the relationship between PM and CL is flipped."
If renters go to pad mapper to find houses, and not CL, you are saying that will not impact customer and user behavior.
If renters move, then listers will too.
Your statement/line of thought does not address this aspect. Do you consider it an unlikelihood ?
Its an unstable equilibrium though, and at some point the power will tip towards PM, they will eventually eat CL.
All your objections are surmountable, it can be made technically easier. And if landlords hear of pad paper more frequently, they will go there too.
You mean like a realtor? Maybe craigslist should go after realtors.
The material facts of a listing on Craigslist don't belong to Craigslist. You can't copyright the fact that a given listing is for $2400 a month. You can't copyright that it's at a given street and cross-street and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms on the premises. I don't even think anyone should copyright the aggregate of the above data. To do so would be evil. (In that there would be widespread implications.)
It's not their data. It's their listing. Those are two different things.
Are you saying that Craigslist doesn't own the data, but it still owns the aggregation of the data?
But once you get down to arguing "yes, I have a legal right to use this data, as your attorney can see by looking at section VI.A.5.b of the Online Bullshit Act," you've already given up the game. Legal arguments are ones that are essentially saying "I have government violence backing me up." Padmapper likely does.
But if that's what it's coming down to, it doesn't change the fact that Craigslist is being screwed. Maybe they had it coming and maybe it's good for the grand moral arc of human history, but whatever: they provided the forum and a way to structure and organize all that data, and without that structure it'd be hard to pick out the signal from the noise of the internet.
Now, I'm not commenting on whether their behavior is justified or not; I'm merely talking about the role of the government in this particular case.
I am not arguing from that standpoint. I'm thinking about the implications for the freedom of data.
You are essentially saying that anyone who has done work resulting in the aggregation of public data somehow "owns" or holds the rights to the aggregation of that data. By this same logic, the first company that published a general-interest encyclopedia would own the general concept of the same aggregation of data. That can't be right, otherwise there could only be one encyclopedia in the world. By the same token, the current search companies own the reference graph of the web, and anyone who starts another web crawler is in violation.
In so far as what Padmapper is doing is the re-aggregation of already public data, he has to be in the clear, otherwise the concept of "owning" an aggregation of data becomes restrictive.
Even if this phrase served your larger argument regarding Craigslist's moral position -- and I don't think it does, given that thus far, Craigslist is really the first to threaten to make this a matter requiring state enforcement -- it'd still be a bit mixed up.
A legal argument -- like any other argument -- can be about persuasion based on established principles instead of compulsion. In fact, that's essentially all it is through the point the parties involved are subject to an arbiter whose decision is still essentially based in the relative persuasiveness of the arguments.
It's true that at the stage where a ruling is either ignored by an unhappy party or enforced by another party, violence of one form or another may be required (if there is to be a system where there's enforcement -- and not all systems choose this). But between that point and the "legal argument" stage, there's enough of a buffer zone grounded in discussion that any easy equivalence between the argument and violence itself should make a careful thinker suspicious.
In the UK and EU, database rights do exist, although Padmapper could argue that Craig's List makes no investment in actually compiling the database since listings are user submitted (as opposed to the investment they continually make keeping the database accessible).
So are you saying that if CL had a more elegant UI you would be against the OP continuing agasinst CL's wishes? Seems like very arbitrary ethics.
1) that the only thing that a company such as this could be doing with their value/income is building "an elegant UI" (it seems an insulting stretch to believe that their 30 employees are just sipping martinis at their office; one would imagine that there are complex social management problems that Craigslist has become experienced with and spends most of their time managing)
2) that "an elegant UI" provides positive value to this type of interaction (there have been reasonable arguments in previous PadMapper v. Craigslist posts that, in fact, the UI provided by CL is semantically more optimal than competitors providing fields; part of this argument hinged on the benefit of not requiring certain kinds of information, which makes some sense if you look at the low-key way people prefer to interact with it)
3) that there would be a long-term benefit to handing these keys to PadMapper <- this one is exceptionally bothersome due to your multiply-emphasized cry of "consequentialism"; please remember that the long-term goal of companies with this business model (I have consulted for multiple, and have multiple friends personally involved with them) is to become the portal and then marginalize the data sources as they become the new de-facto standard: in this case, PadMapper's service called PadLister.
4) that the result of this set of policies would not actually increase the number of "renter-hours" wasted, due to the (I will happily argue, but will not bother here as to me the mechanism is trivial and obvious) likely outcome that there would no longer be a centralized source for this kind of data, and renters would instead end up scouring numerous sites in the attempt to piece together who was renting what where, despite "elegant UIs". (I will point out, in case it isn't clear: I am not arguing that this is necessarily a net negative, but your position did make this assumption, so I am pointing it out)
There is absolutely no reason to believe that PadMapper would be a better long-term holder of that vision than Craigslist, and in fact numerous reasons to believe that they would actually suck at it (including, but certainly not limited to, the "this is a shady way to make this argument" comments in the parents of this part of the thread): you really have to ask yourself "who would I be happier with as ruler... Eric, Craig, or no one"?
Regardless, as I have others, I encourage you to read articles on the history of Craigslist. In this case, the article published by Wired a few years back "Why Craigslist is Such a Mess" comes to my mind as a rather key one to start with.
People use terrible interfaces every day and even get better at using them to the point those interfaces melt away.
See a Bloomberg Terminal, see Dwarf Fortress, nethack.
(1) In the Objectivist/Randian sort of way, not in a negative way.
I believe it's more that if CL stopped stomping on other businesses for virtually no reason, without any discussion or even possibility of an agreement, then [I] would be against the OP continuing against CL's wishes.
I am definitely biased though. I used PadMapper a ton in May when I was looking for a sublet for the summer. Last week I started browsing again for the next apartment and felt the distinct lack of CL listings. Honestly, my solution was to start using PadMapper (for non-CL listings) + another site that shows CL data on Google maps. I can't imagine going back to CL's vanilla interface for apartment searching.
In conclusion, thanks for making an awesome service and good luck with figuring something out with the Craigslist folks.
But Eric isn't you. He isn't a dick. He doesn't believe he's "fucking" Craigslist. He found a solution that fit with his own moral framework. If this doesn't fit within your framework, that's fine.
The world doesn't revolve around you. So please deal with it and stop calling him names.
Are you seriously saying that building padmapper is a charitable act? Or am I totally misunderstanding what you said there, because...
There's a long line of argument that free entreprise is actually more helpful than charity in many circumstances.
In a sense, building any company is a charitable act, because you leave consumers better off than they were before .
Are you daft?
It's not a charitable act to start a for-profit company, because you get paid for providing the service that leaves the people better off. The whole point of charities is that they provide the service without getting paid.
(If your business is a startup that has deferred monetization until later, that still doesn't make you a charity; you've just chosen to turn away payment now in the hope that doing so will yield you a bigger payment down the road.)
That's not to say that starting a business is a bad thing or that businesses can't improve the world; but there's a clear line between what a business is and what a charity is, and it involves the expectation of getting paid. Which means a business is always going to be lower on the Do-Gooder Scale than a charity is.
Or the person at a sports event selling me beer? Are they a charity? I do want beer, and they are facilitating that...for $10/glass.
(I think that most people would not consider the beer vendor a charity, and since English is a living language, I think that the cited definition is incomplete)
Crazygringo's point is that there is a much older and more important sense of "charity," which simply means helping those in need. In that sense, Google is a very charitable project. In fact it is hard to imagine a nonprofit doing a better job.
Starting a business with someone is considered the highest level.
However, I'm not sure that providing someone with a service would qualify though.
If Google didn't exist, my life would probably be $20k/yr worse due to search, $5-10k for maps, and $3k/yr worse due to Reader. Maybe $500/yr for News. Google Plus not existing would make my life better (since people who post would post on fb instead, where I'd actually read them).
As does Dictionary.com's: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/charitable
And Wiktionary's: http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/charitable
This is a Randian and ultimately vapid definition of charity. I am all for capitalism but let's not get crazy.
Edit: Capitalism is the opposite of charity because you earn your keep. This is always preferable for both parties IMO.
Would me also becoming the richest man on earth as a result matter to you? Would it diminish the value of what I would contribute? And if so, ask yourself why that should matter at all?
This isn't some Rand Objectivist thing. I just don't understand why we use words like charity and philanthropy that tie the outcome/value of something in the world to the self-sacrifice of the outcome's author. It doesn't seem all that relevant to most discussions about the value of a thing.
Last month, after spending hours filtering through CL listings to no avail, I used padmapper and found the perfect CL listed apartment in 10 minutes.
Frankly, I don't care about whether you're doing this to help people, or you want to get really filthy rich. What matters is your actions. AFAIK, you're not massively ripping me or anyone else off, you're not torturing puppies, and have no plans for world domination.
I think that the statement you quoted is explicitly saying that for-profit software isn't a charitable act. Instead, in an implicit comparison to charitable acts, it's saying that for-profit software can also make life better for users.
That was just my immediate reaction. You sound like you're alright.
It’s his bass and your money, but the reason you knew he had a bass to sell was the store. Likewise, it’s “your” listing data, but the reason padmapper is able to hire someone in the third world to read the internet and manually screen scrape the data—or whatever it is they’re going to do—is because craigslist aggregated it for them.
This is very similar to the kerfuffle over allegations that Bing was scraping results from Google rather than organically indexing the web. It’s quite possibly legal, but it’s not particularly admirable.
And I join Phil (disclosure: He once called me a “giant,” so I owe him) in suggesting that arguments that the ends justify the means are suspect.
I’d prefer to see the padmapper folks put up a pirate flag and openly declare war on craigslist. Just come right out and call them the evil empire already.
Here's where the rubber meets the road. As far as I can tell, 3taps is taking data out of the Google Cache and re-aggregating it. While stealing someone's aggregation of data is clearly wrong, re-aggregating data from public sources clearly isn't, both from a legal and moral sense, at least in the US.
The material facts in each ad are public data. The fact that such an ad appeared on Craigslist with such facts is also public data.
> And I join Phil...in suggesting that arguments that the ends justify the means are suspect.
I'm also suspicious of ends justifying the means, but that isn't the whole story here.
> I’d prefer to see the padmapper folks put up a pirate flag and openly declare war on Craigslist. Just come right out and call them the evil empire already.
To me, Craigslist is the one being selfish and shortsighted here. If they back legislation seeking ownership rights over re-aggregation of data, that would be an "evil empire" move. It would be better for everyone if they subvert Padmapper instead of fighting it.
Perhaps the best moral decision (perhaps), but probably not the best business decision.
Man in the arena, etc.
You are free to post the same listing to as many other sites as you want; Craigslist doesn't demand exclusivity. In that regard, your listing remains yours. You have no other claim to the posting on Craiglist itself.
Not so fast. The full objection that people have with spammers isn't that the spammers have their email address. It's exactly how the email is used which comprises what people object to.
I've been looking at Padmapper, and as far as I can tell, they are basically providing a better interface to Craigslist largely by aggregating data that Craigslist doesn't claim to own.
Specifically how is Padmapper competing with Craigslist? How would such a mechanism not also apply to Google News, reddit, HN and various news sites? Is a "search bar" extension in Firefox competing with Google?
So they avoid touching Craigslist's servers by having a middleman do the touching for them.
This however comes across as feeling sleazy, shrugging it off and doing it anyhow.
e: To expand, CL obviously picked on you specifically, and it deprives all the apartment hunters of your service when applied to the largest apartment listing available. I could see it if they somehow filled the void with a comparable service, before they turned it off, but by depriving padmapper access, it makes it worse for everyone.
Just remember that every nerd that has ever broken any rule --- from seeding a torrent of a movie to scraping a competing site to (yes, go look it up) exploit SQL injection to dump a company's mail spool to the Internet --- has come up with a personally compelling rationale to do it. MAFIAA, "we're helping apartment hunters", "STRATFOR was an evil intelligence company". These are all of a kind.
The fact is, you compete with Craigslist. However much "better" your service is, customers don't agree: they overwhelmingly prefer Craigslist, because that's where the market is: the "killer feature" in your space is the market.
So, to stay viable in the face of competition that has you beaten dead to rights, you've rationalized cheating them.
I don't find what you're doing detestable, or anything like that, but it sure is annoying to watch you pat yourself on the back for it. I'm with Phillip. Have you read a lot of his comments? I have. He's not dumb, nor is he a troll.
Possibly the only CEO ever described as anti-
establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist,
since 2000 Jim has led craigslist to be the most used
classifieds in any medium, and one of world's most popular
websites, while maintaining its public service mission,
non-corporate vibe, and staff of 30-some.
There is no reason to believe that PadMapper would not easily end up in the same position going forward, and in fact the incentives are sufficiently poor that it seems like a bad assumption to believe that it would not happen: it, at least, has to be considered. To the extent to which you might argue "the conclusion wouldn't happen with PadMapper", it seems even easier to argue that "the conclusion didn't even happen currently with Craigslist" (again, read my earlier parenthetical).
I bring this up to point out that there is an underlying assumption in your argument that presumes the result: that you already don't like Craigslist, and that that is what causes you to like other people over Craigslist. The DNS argument can be used in either direction: the only pull it has is an appeal to things the listener already might like or dislike (in this case, liking the idea of a theoretical open DNS system, and disliking the idea of hypothetical censorship).
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it." -- Upton Sinclair (http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Upton_Sinclair)
Getting a C+D from Craigslist is a good sign. It means you matter. Hang in there long enough, and Craigslist won't be able to cut you off, because a good chunk of their traffic will come through you.
It's kind of weird to think of Craigslist as stodgy old-media using the courts to defend an out-dated business model because they don't like being disrupted by new technology, but here we are.
I'm just saying that ericd needn't feel guilty for ignoring Craig's wishes. Do you think Craig feels guilty about destroying the newspaper industry?
If Craiglist was motivated that way, why would they have sent the C+D in the first place? It seems that CL is opposed to anyone violating their TOS, period, regardless of benefit to CL.
Right now, the overwhelming majority of pads on Padmapper are Craigslist posts. But that's just because the overwhelming majority of all advertised apartments are Craigslist posts. If people start using Padmapper in large numbers, it breaks the symmetry of CL's dominance. Landlords are still posting to CL, but renters are finding those posts through Padmapper. It won't be long before landlords realize that those renters will also find posts on Kijiji or Apartments.com or whatever. When that happen's CL is in trouble, because it's revenue comes from landlords in certain cities paying to post.
CL doesn't care about the TOS per se; the TOS are designed to prevent just such a scenario.
And by extension - the relation between CL and many other people who want to disintermediate CL away?
Just keep going man. If you stop doing what you do you will lose the millions(?) of people you are helping.
Seriously other apartment sites just don't get it. They SUCK ... suck so bad that I'd rather bang my head on the table than use them.
Without PadMapper, craigslist is worse than the other sites. I don't understand why they just don't buy you outright - thats what should happen if anyone cares about the effing consumer.
Please keep going and doing what you are doing.
-Very thankful apartment hunter.
In any case, I agree with others that you don't need to bring these kind of justifications to bear. Craigslist has no right (either legally or morally) to facts about rental locations.
I don't have to, but I thought it'd help to explain my reasoning to people.
I think you have one: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4220106
Consider the following:
I leave a bowl of candy on my doorstep for Halloween with a note that says "Please take one piece of candy.".
You, however, have a bunch of friends back home who aren't at my house to get the candy, so you take the entire bowl. You defend this, citing a "grey area" because your friends want the candy, and you're making them happy because you took it from me and gave it to them.
That's what you did.
No grey area. You just wanted the candy.
(Do I support craigslist's decision? No, I think it's stupid, but it's their stupid decision to make.)
It's fine if craigslist wants me to use their competing mapping service, I would even pay them a small fee for it, but if they don't have one yet then I just get fucked. Craigslist isn't being "nice" to me, so as long as padmapper isn't doing anything illegal, I really don't care if they're being "nice" to Craigslist.
It's clearly a gray area, but let's be clear: IT'S NOT CL'S DATA. Craigslist actually makes it clear that it's the user's data and that when it's posted on CL, it's being posted publicly.
It's data that a CL user has entrusted to CL. The user could've gone with PadMapper but they didn't. Being posted publicly is irrelevant, since the user agreed to CL's TOS not PadMapper's.
The direction PadMapper should be going in is to forget about the CL data and do things that make it number one over CL. Stealing CL's clients is fair game and in the long run aren't one CL TOS change from being in the wrong again.
1. The average user has never read the TOS and doesn't care about it.
2. User's don't post to padmapper because A) they don't know about it and B) posting to craigslist is (until now) a superset of posting to padmapper and craigslist
3. The data Padmapper is taking is your address and posting time. You'd be hard pressed to find more than a handful of people who mind Padmapper reposting such info.
Besides, it's incredibly difficult to steal CL data for apartments. The posters are incredibly technology unsophisticated; I'm amazed how apartment owners can't take a simple 2 minute video walk-through. A lot of places don't even have pictures!
The user may be able to. But the users won't do so, at least not in any significant numbers.
By having the user sign their right to sue over to Craigslist. They're saying "it's your copyright, but you're giving us the enforcement rights to it". It's in their TOS:
> You also expressly grant and assign to CL all rights and causes of action to prohibit and enforce against any unauthorized copying, performance, display, distribution, use or exploitation of, or creation of derivative works from, any content that you post (including but not limited to any unauthorized downloading, extraction, harvesting, collection or aggregation of content that you post).
Downvoted for ad hominem.
One of the wonderful things about HN is that it provides a forum for civil discussion. If that's your style, there are lots of other places on the web that are better venues for you.
Get over your analysis - this service is farking amazing and Craig is an idiot for trying to thwart it.
Craig has consistently chosen to sit on his hands and do nothing because he is to afraid to mess with the CL money pot.
Things evolve. CL has not evolved hardly at all and after 10 years + it is hurting people for its lack of change.
EDIT: Would you say that HN is hurting people through their choice to stick with a poorly-performing language for serving its website?
I hat "unknown/expired link" - It wastes my time and frustrates me when I just leave the page up for a time then click more and get that error. I also can't stand the URLs not being human readable.
As far as I can see, Padmapper is not using the Craigslist reputation or page views. The data Padmapper is aggregating is treated as public information by Craigslist's own policy. Given these facts, I don't see what he's doing that's wrong, specifically.
As far as I can tell, it is public information. Craigslist has a claim on the listing and not the information in it.
> The listing data belongs to the original poster who entered into a contractual relationship with CL -- not with PadMapper.
If the data belongs to the original poster and not Craigslist, then the original poster can have a beef with Padmapper, and Craigslist has no claim.
> If anything the ads are covered by copyright, held by the person who wrote the specific ad.
In as far as Padmapper is using the data in the listing, and not the actual listing, I don't see any violation of copyright. Otherwise, one encyclopedia could sue another one for also publishing the same material facts in an article. If your logic held, there could only be one encyclopedia in the world.
> If the service is so great, then start calling the ad posters and offer them the chance to post on PadMapper. Otherwise, it's theft. We can moralize all we want but reproducing someone's ad without their permission is a violation of the poster's rights, even if some of us feel that it's in their best interest. The choice should belong to the person posting the ad.
I don't think you're taking all the implications into account. By this reasoning, Google bots should only put something in the Google Cache if the original poster gives specific permission.
I agree that reproducing someone's ad without their permission is wrong. However, reproducing the material facts of their ad is clearly not immoral or illegal.
Also, if the first person to aggregate public data effectively has a copyright to that data, there would be widespread and harmful implications.
So what you're saying is that, "The original poster can sue PadMapper, but at least CL isn't going to be a plaintiff."
Unfortunately, you don't know what you're talking about:
From the CL TOU: "You also expressly grant and assign to CL all rights and causes of action to prohibit and enforce against any unauthorized copying, performance, display, distribution, use or exploitation of, or creation of derivative works from, any content that you post (including but not limited to any unauthorized downloading, extraction, harvesting, collection or aggregation of content that you post)."
That clause just made CL the agent for the original poster and it expressly grants CL the right to prohibit unauthorized use. RTFM.
This whole situation is excessively asshole-ish. It seems like PadMapper is hell-bent on scraping CL data by any means (or rationalization) necessary. We can debate about CL running their business the way they do, but this argument is starting to look like some pseudo-intellectual freshman philosophy conversation. It's almost like debating Lyndon LaRouche supporters.
What PadMapper really needs to do is consult a lawyer and figure out how to work within the law rather than trying to be cute about skirting the CL TOU. Any investor would run far away from a company that seems so determined to do something without any professional legal advice instead replying upon some sophomoric interpretation of a contract and the law.
This comment: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4160061 outlines a strategy that could work that doesn't involve playing games and skirting Craigslist. It's also a way to actually build a business based on something besides just stealing other people's data. Of course it requires real work and doesn't appeal to someone that thinks code is the answer to every question.
Returning to the Google example, it's irrelevant, "Google does it" is not a legal defense or even a moral defense, depending on ones opinion of Google..
I am well aware of that aspect of the TOS. I'm unimpressed by it. I wonder if that will hold up in court.
I this case, it's clear Craiglist is acting in Craigslist's interest against those of the user.
What? Eric is so obviously not an asshole that your comment is just weird.
He's not the type to come out and call someone else, like Craigslist's CEO, an asshole. In fact, he comes out saying that he admires Craigslist. That's just the way he is.
OK, IANAL, but isn't the content of craiglist's post owned by the author of said post, not the Craiglist itself? (sorry haven't read their TOS/TOC). Just like you own your tweets, not the twitter?
Otherwise, I could keep posting copyrighted material (like books) and then suing Craiglist for copyright infringement (something Vivendi did to Youtube) since CL would claim responsibility/IP rights. I am sure that CL protect itself from acts like that pushing the blame/responsibility at users (I don't think DMCA would work in each and single case). So one could argue that this is each and every CL author right/responsibility to file copyright infringement claim with whomever harvest CL posts, and CL should, for lack of better words, "mind their own business". In other words, they lack copyrights over the content their users are creating. Sure they can remove the post if it violates TOS, but in the best scenario they could email the author "hey we stumbled upon your CL posting on XYZ website, do you want to file a claim?", but really nothing more than that, right?
I know it sound bit weird, but isnt't it what AirBNB and others do: while your local/state law may forbid subletting, AirBNB hands are clean because they are in business of providing a social platform to find and post vacant apartments, not enforce or monitor if their users follow their local renting laws.
I’m curious as to how padmapper intendeds to solve this problem. If Craigslist seed their listings with something false, that something is entirely craigslist’s copyright. It isn’t a “fact.” They don’t have a right to reproduce it. Lawyers, please chime in.
This is (to my knowledge) the most relevant case regarding facts and copyright. Rural made a local phone book, and Feist made an aggregate phone book which wholesale copied Rural's listings (and presumably others).
In this case Rural did seed their phone book with fake listings as you describe. Feist copied the fake listings along with the legitimate listings and still won the case.
Some related legal precedent, discussion, and doctrines. Note in particular the "Sweat of the Brow" doctrine, which holds that rights may be granted "through simple diligence during the creation of a work...Substantial creativity or "originality" is not required." Looks like this doctrine was rejected in Feist v Rural.
Long story short I'd expect 3taps to be craigslist legal target.
(though actually I guess 3taps doesn't actually use the data so I'm not sure if what they're doing is technically illegal until padmapper uses it - I'm going to stop armchair lawyering now)
I'm not saying Craigslist has any legitimate claim over the data, merely that if they do, accessing it via an indirect means probably doesn't change anything legally.
EDIT: mikeryan, you appear to be right. Upon further reflection, I think the distinction is that PadMapper does not put up the entire post written by the user, just the fact that the post exists and is in reference to a particular location. Likewise, it's kosher for me to tell Alice that Bob posted a poem on his window so that she can go read it, even though it would not be kosher for me to make her a copy.
You automatically grant and assign to CL, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant and assign to CL, a perpetual, irrevocable, unlimited, fully paid, fully sub-licensable (through multiple tiers), worldwide license to copy, perform, display, distribute, prepare derivative works from (including, without limitation, incorporating into other works) and otherwise use any content that you post. You also expressly grant and assign to CL all rights and causes of action to prohibit and enforce against any unauthorized copying, performance, display, distribution, use or exploitation of, or creation of derivative works from, any content that you post (including but not limited to any unauthorized downloading, extraction, harvesting, collection or aggregation of content that you post).
There's an interesting subtext here. The key for CL is this line You also expressly grant and assign to CL all rights and causes of action to prohibit and enforce against any unauthorized copying, performance, display, distribution, use or exploitation of, or creation of derivative works from, any content that you post (including but not limited to any unauthorized downloading, extraction, harvesting, collection or aggregation of content that you post)
I believe there was a case with Righthaven where it was found that the copyright owners can assign copyright but can't assign copyright enforcement rights. I wonder if this is the loophole that 3taps is looking to exploit.
I can record TV content from an over the air broadcast and never touch a thing and still not have the right to retransmit the content.
Actually it does, from both a legal and moral standpoint. It shouldn't be wrong to re-aggregate data from already public sources. That way lies insanity and oppression.
> The question is fully around the copyright ownership of the content.
Actually, it's around ownership of the material facts in the content. Those can't be owned, at least in the US.
It does not matter that you're only using "facts", because those "facts" are data specifically collected by Craiglist pursuant to a license with the original poster. The selection of relevant facts is protected by copyright law in the U.S. As a licensee, Craiglist has the right to enforce this copyright against you if it chooses. Morever, by violating the TOU, you are either directly breaching a contract with Craiglist or committing tortious interference in the contract between CL and the poster.
Either way, you do not have a legal leg to stand on. If Craiglist goes after you, you will be screwed. The first time around, your actions were harmless. But this time around, you are knowingly and deliberately violating Craiglists' rights. That opens the door to punitive damages. Judges and juries do not look kindly upon people who violate others' property rights, especially after being told not to.
Being a "startup" is not an excuse to break the rules or fuck with other people's rights.
"As a licensee, Craiglist has the right to enforce this copyright against you if it chooses."
"Morever, by violating the TOU, you are either directly breaching a contract with Craiglist or committing tortious interference in the contract between CL and the poster."
2) It's basic contract and copyright law that a licensee may defend a copyright if necessary to protect their license. See Righthaven, which came down to this very issue: Righthaven was prevented from asserting newspapers' copyrights because it did not have a license to the newspapers' content.
3) You have this backwards. Padmapper and 3taps are (a) the ones breaching the contracts between themselves and Craigslist (see 1) and (b) are interfering in the license agreements between Craiglist and the posters. The posters are not breaching anything.
Don't be an armchair lawyer.
2) From the Righthaven opinion:
Pursuant to Section 501(b) of the 1976 Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. § 101, et. seq., (the “Act”) only the legal or beneficial owner of an exclusive right under copyright law is entitled, or has standing, to sue for infringement.
Righthaven owned the copyright to the work in question, but granted all of the exclusive rights back to the original creator. While Craigslist has a license to its listings, its standing to sue for infringement doesn't seem clear to me. I'd love to see a counterexample.
3b) I see no interference in the license agreement between Craigslist and the posters. Craigslist's license is non-exclusive. Padmapper's use of the posters' content does not breach the license agreement.
Call me an armchair lawyer all you want, but so far, your arguments seem to contradict the facts.
2) Legally, Righthaven did not own* the rights in question, and that is why the Colorado court kicked out their lawsuits. The court concluded that Righthaven merely owned the right to enforce the copyright because it had granted all the actual exploitation rights back to the newspapers. In other words, Righthaven's "ownership" was illusory and intended solely for the purpose of given them standing to sue. Unfortunately (and I do not know how Righthaven missed this), it has been longstanding doctrine in IP Law that a transfer of all exclusive rights to an IP constitutes an actual transfer of the ownership of the IP (litigation rights are not considered rights in this context).
3b) They are accessing the cached copy. They admit as much. A duplicate is the same as the original, for copyright purposes.
3b) Posters license Craiglist to use their content. They do not license anyone else to use their content. Padmapper is thus an unlicensed user. This can constitute tortious interference in many states because it interferes with Craiglist's ability to full exploit their license.
If Padmapper was using a competitor of Craiglist that the poster had also posted to, there would not be any problems. But Padmapper is using Craiglist's own service, and that factual distinction matters.
4) I don't know how to say this more clearly: you are misunderstanding the legal holding of the Righthaven opinion and how the IP law works in the U.S. It is probably an honest mistake, since IP law adopts a lot of physical property concepts that most techies instinctively reject.
Thoughts on 'Trespass to Chattels' as it might apply here (or CFAA even)?
Both 3Taps and Padmapper are potentially liable in this scheme. DMCA compliance does not protect this type of use; the safe harbors are very narrow and specific. It only protects websites (or services) from liability for content posted to the website directly, by users of the website (or service). The DMCA does not protect the website (or service) from content it actively acquires, on its own or on behalf of another party.
3Tap is scraping the Google Cache under some misguided interpretation that the copy of the Craiglist site is not protected by copyright. This is as ridiculous a legal interpretation as Carreon's charges against the Oatmeal for defamation. Google has fair use rights to maintain a copy of Craiglist's site in its cache, but ownership of the content remains with Craiglist. This is no different than if the site were hosted on Akamai or CloudFront servers instead of Craiglist's own servers.
Copyright liability does not stop with the first infringer. Every infringer is potentially liable (which is why the DMCA safe harbors were necessary in the first place).
Then you should consider the following.
> 3Tap is scraping the Google Cache under some misguided interpretation that the copy of the Craiglist site is not protected by copyright.
Yes, but is 3Taps presenting a copy of the posting or the material facts contained within the posting? The former would be a copyright violation. The latter should not be. I cannot tell without delving into the SDK. I take it you didn't consider this.
Moreover, even if the copyright does not rise to the level of a copyright violation (if the facts copied are not sufficiently unique -- that would require a look at the CL fields, the 3Tap API, and Padmapper's use), it would still be a TOS violation, which courts have held are enforceable especially against commercial entities.
2) A copy of the Craiglist site is visited. The fact that the copy is hosted by the Google cache is immaterial for copyright or TOS purposes, unless Google cache did not have any right to keep that copy. Google operates the cache under the fair use doctrine, and so has compulsory rights to the Craiglist website. Ergo, visiting the cached copy is the same as visiting the original site, for legal purposes. If it were not, then all TOS could easily be avoided simply by accessing a CloudFront or Akamai-hosted website, or through any third-party aggregation service or software.
Ownership of the content remains with the person who posted the listing on Craigslist. Craigslist has no recourse via copyright law.
Craiglist is different. Craiglist has the right to use the copyrighted content of its posters. It is a basic tenant of copyright and contract law that Craiglist therefore has the right to enforce the contract to protect its own license rights.
If your company has to "protect its data" but in fact, it's really the user's data: this should be a red flag.
Google doesn't try to "protect" its data. Facebook and Craigslist do. Yes, there is a red flag on the latter two companies. They have to actively exert themselves to keep their network-effect advantage. Insofar as they do this by generating value for users, they will prosper. When they act against user interests, they act against the preservation of their network advantage. If they go too far or do too little, they will fall.
Ultimately, no one is entitled to keep succeeding. Whoever does the best by the users will succeed.
IANAL, but I would expect the copier-of-fake-listings to have a number of defenses in such a situation.
It would be hard to prove any real damages from the copying of just those fake listings – any loss of business is due to the copying of the bulk of other real listings. To the extent those other real listings are 'facts', reproducing them may be a protected activity under US legal precedent ('Feist'). The false items don't change the key issue at all. (Statutory damages might still be a problem.)
• Someone couldn't intentionally hoax a newspaper and then sue the newspaper for having reproduced their creative work of fiction.
• If I tricked you into downloading a file labelled "public-domain video of the 1997 state-of-the-union address", which is actually the 'West Wing' pilot episode, it'd be hard for me to collect damages for copyright violation.
To some extent, passing off material in the form of something else – where that something else would otherwise be legal to disseminate – can easily be considered implicit permission to treat that material as if it were the first thing (true facts, hot news, copyright-unemcumbered information, etc).
Injecting the false data still serves a 'detection' purpose but probably can't serve a 'damages-heightening' purpose. (And, detection isn't at issue in this scenario: PadMapper has announced their intent and technique publicly.)
Your point is cogent, but the example is not. if someone hoazes a newspaper, the are encouraging the newspaper to “copy” them. Craigslist is not hoaxing 3taps or padmapper, just the opposite. In my conjecture, they’re sending C&D letters saying “Do NOT copy our data. Although most of it is not copyrightable, some of it is and cannot be copied from our web site or API. Get your ‘facts' from original sources.”
That is very different from hoaxing or inducing someone to copy and then yelling “gotcha!"
The point of the "fake streets" on maps is to prove that the rival map maker copied data rather than driving all the roads themselves. Here, there is no doubt that the data in question is originally sourced from Craigslist. There is no need to prove it.
Now, it's definitely a gray area to repost the individuals' content on another site, but what Eric is doing is clearly in line with the intent of the original poster: distribute a listing to get eyeballs. I'm making an assumption here, but I'm pretty sure that he would pull the post if the individual requested as much.
And finally, although I think this is a bad place to stake your claim, the posts themselves are arguably purely public data the second they hit Craigslist. The data conveyed is factual, there is no IP, and it's being disseminated publicly. It's similar to (and yes, there are a lot of ways to poke holes in this analogy, but for the sake of argument...) a town crier shouting an advertisement out in a crowded square and one of the listeners taking that information, traveling to another public square, and repeating it.
Yes, a better question would be, "Is it okay to index the stories on your site?"
If it's not then Google and all other search engines are wrong.
Just seems like a bad situation all around, but in my mind Padmapper has the moral (though perhaps not legal, again, not a lawyer) high ground, at least relatively speaking.
It sucks CL isn't going to let you get their data, but I really don't think this workaround is going to change anything (although kudos for the neat Google cache hack from 3taps).
I imagine your development efforts would be better spent by leveraging the small but dedicated following you clearly have. There must be ways to take advantage of it without opening yourself up to more litigation.
I say try and move the traffic to pad. It's certainly a big task, but not "far too big". Pick the region where you have the most significant traffic and start there. I haven't looked deeply into your site at all, but I know you have Garry Tans support, ask him what you need to do to get in YC. Get "Craigslist is the Killer" as a headline on TechCrunch. Piggyback the Padlister browser add-on with other common downloads, then push a popup to users posting apartment listings on craigslist saying "Also list on Padmapper?" There are all sorts of things you can try.
There are hundreds of people on HN that wish they had the traffic you have. Use that momentum before it dies off.
A great strategy here would have been to establish a strong relationship with the people at Craigslist from the beginning. No idea if that was tried or not. Seriously, was the C&D letter the first communication exchanged between Padmapper and CL? What a missed opportunity. I wonder if this entire disaster could have been averted by calling the CL guys up early on and taking them out to lunch. Make friends, send them Christmas cards, then when this disagreement comes up you handle it over a round of golf instead of a C&D letter.
This guy is finding any means necessary to add Craiglist data back into his application and Craigslist does not want him to. I think the "gray" area is pretty black and white. Craigslist said no. He's doing it anyway - even if indirectly.
Here's how I see it:
Me: Don't go in my house.
You: But you left the back door unlocked by accident, so I thought I'd just come in and eat your food.
In the real world this would not be acceptable.
Even though we are talking apples, bananas, and oranges, the same ethical perspective should be employed. Craig said no, so we respect his wishes. It's the RIGHT thing to do. If he adds an API someday, then he's sharing the key to his house with us, until then. Doors are locked, too bad, move on.
If they own the listing data, they're responsible for it's content. So, in some cases, they'd be responsible for selling sex, drugs, and stolen property. Not to mention responsible for a murder or two.
As soon as they claim they own the user generated content, they'll be opening themselves to thousands of lawsuits for their complicity in thousands of illegal acts.
My point is that company A is asking company B not to use the content that was submitted directly to company A's site on company B's site.
Company B is finding a round-about way to do it anyway.
In my opinion, this is the wrong thing to do. They should respect the wishes of company A and just not do it because they were told/asked not to.
I believe that just because you "can" doesn't always mean you "should".
I agree that legal is not equivalent to right, but in this case, I don't see the moral argument against this. Everyone benefits from this; the overall benefit to society is positive.
So it's wrong to jailbreak your iPhone because Apple would prefer that you didn't, even though it's explicitly legal?
The point being, what's mine is mine, and if I say you can't have it, I want you to respect my wishes. Sure you can probably justify endlessly, or interpret differently, or stretch the truth, or bend the rules, but one business is saying, don't use our data this way, and regardless of this, the other business is finding a way to use the data.
Seems wrong to me.
Because I can't reply deeper to these threads, I have to edit here.
The "mine" above is not intended to be in regards to the information or content on Craigslist. I'm not saying they own it.
I think there is a relationship between the person who posted the information to Craigslist and Craigslist itself. I don't think anyone has a right to become some part of that relationship without both sides agreeing.
Maybe it's because I'm a freelancer. If I have a relationship with a Client to build them something, and someone else decides, of their own accord, that they are now part of that relationship, I have the right to tell them to back off, and I believe they should respect my wishes.
I'm not talking data ownership. I'm not talking about legal matters. I'm saying, human to human, they should just be cool with Craigslist wishes and go another way.
Craigslist postings aren't Craigslist's in a legally or practically meaningful way. This is the crux of the matter. The owners are the posters, and few if any of them would object to increased visibility.
As far as I know, Craigslist doesn't own the facts contained in a listing, nor does it have a claim to the aggregation of such facts, so Craigslist doesn't have a legal or moral claim here.
Mix black and white together, and you get... gray!
Can you now defend your property and keep people away from those diamonds?
If they get them, can you fight to get them back? They were taken from YOUR property after all.
What if I threw them right into your living room?
CL: Don't go into my house
You: But you let Mr. Google make an exact copy of everything in your house, how about if I use that?
Mr. Google: Help yourself.
Craigslist said no. The user that posted the data to Craigslist did not give Padmapper or 3Tap permission to copy their listing. 3Tap and Padmapper did anyway. The Google Cache, for legal purposes is Craigslist's site if it is a cached copy of the Craigslist site. Google has a legitimate fair use argument that the cache is directly related to its primary non-infringing use of search, which is why it gets to cache the site. Google does not get any copyrights to the cached sites; the copyrights remain with the owners.
Thus, the problem remains that 3Tap and Padmapper are violating Craiglist's copyright and its TOS. They could also be violating state and federal laws.
As far as IP goes, Craigslist does not own the copyright to the posts on their site. The posters do. Even if Craigslist wrote all the postings themselves, the factual information (price, number of bedrooms, location) could still be copied because facts are not protected intellectual property.
I don't see how you're any less of an armchair lawyer than we are, and to top it off, you're wrong. (EDIT: Oops, I've come across another one of your comments where you say you're a lawyer.)
Considering that, I would expect a more detailed analysis.
I'm presenting a basic overview of the facts and current state of the law. I limit my comments to what I can type during my breaks. Consequently, my analysis is spread out over multiple comments. If you want a more detailed analysis with every comment, you can pay me or wait for a lawyer with plenty of free time on his hands to summarize things for you.
... the postings in question are public facts about exchanges. Just as any price/supply/demand in a marketplace is open for any and all to notate and republish, so too is the entire set of Craigslist data -- as these offers between seekers and providers are clearly in the public domain. Historically, Craigslist has attempted to block access by others to the comprehensive use of this data. They block many 3rd parties who try to gain access to the data, and sometimes threaten to sue and bankrupt others as if they themselves created the underlying data and hold copyright like property rights over the same.
A fear, uncertainty,dread approach over access to data breaks down in a world where Google already indexes all of Craigslist data and caches that information all over the internet (for search performance results). If its possible and legal for Google, then why not for any and everyone else to also index and offer access to the same data. In short, Google doesn't get special secondary property rights to privatize public data to the exclusion of anyone else. Equal access to exchange data and search data is a principle in parallel to the notions of net neutrality.
The points above are not a theoretical discourse. Look at 3taps.com/developers to see the execution of this concept. And look at what a 3rd party application (craiggers.com) can do in recreating the whole of Craigslist in a format that gives access to data in a way that is not remotely possible in the legacy Craigslist offering. Craiggers is a perfect example that the function of displaying Craigslist data (rather than gathering it) is a totally distinct (and competitive) marketplace, even if there are still huge network effects in the gathering of Craigslist postings.
Note, Craiggers does NOT disrupt the existing Craigslist revenue model for Craigslist. It simply opens up the field (along with any other developer building on 3taps assisted access to Craigslist data) that wants to build on top of (rather than compete with) the network effects of Craigslist. Think Kayak and Indeed, but now for the whole body of data covered by Craigslist accessible, rather than just a single vertical.
> If its possible and legal for Google, then why not for any and everyone else to also index and offer access to the same data.
Because Craigslist isn't suing Google. If they didn't want Google indexing their stuff, Google would comply.
> Google doesn't get special secondary property rights to privatize public data to the exclusion of anyone else.
They can and do. That's why it's beneficial to set your user agent to Google Bot when browsing news sites.
> Equal access to exchange data and search data is a principle in parallel to the notions of net neutrality.
Full of shit. It takes effort to provide the service that Craigslist does. Claiming that you have a right to that data is wrong, and moreover has already been decided by case law (you can find links in other comments on this page).
> And look at what a 3rd party application (craiggers.com) can do in recreating the whole of Craigslist in a format that gives access to data in a way that is not remotely possible in the legacy Craigslist offering.
There is a reason Craigslist doesn't make that data available - it would reduce the utility for sellers of their website, reducing their revenue and potentially drying up their business. Trying to squeeze it out of Google's cache is still copyright infringement.
> Note, Craiggers does NOT disrupt the existing Craigslist revenue model for Craigslist.
Yes, it does. By scraping craigslist in an attempt to undermine their platform you are eliminating their site's relatively utility for buyers, which eliminates the impetus for sellers to list there.
In my interpretation it is the content of the listings, not the compilation. He could compile the data from several different sources and present the same result.
Adding/removing/modifying and changing the arrangement or display of items in a dataset sufficiently constitutes a dataset unique from the one Craigslist offers even if it is largely derivative from the Craigslist dataset.
Craigslist could argue a trespass to chattels tort or file a ToS civil suit, but there isn't much they can do to protect a dataset.
The reason Facebook makes Facebook content largely available only to those who are logged in is to hide behind their ToS and prevent scraping whether centralized or distributed.
Not wanting your data on Google != Denying access to said content
This is exactly what Craigslist will argue, but it's hard to imagine how that could be true if the eventual downstream destination of the data always sends the user back to Craigslist to finish the process.
Is it not just like asking "why doesn't Google, Ebay etc let me scrape their database"? Just because someone found a nicer way to display, sort, relate the data, does give them neither a legal or nor a moral right to use the data.
It would have been better for everyone if Craigslist gave away the data minus whatever is needed to finish the transaction, and include in the TOS that that you must send the user back to Craigslist to actually finish whatever they're trying to do.
As far as I know, there is no database copyright in the US.
Jonathan, you can't be serious about this one. Why on Earth would you go on a public record and suggest someone to illegally impersonalize another company? Don't you know it may be a jailable offense, if Google (or any other company in that matter) decides to go after you??
> It takes effort to provide the service that Craigslist does. Claiming that you have a right to that data is wrong [...]
It is equally wrong to claim you have no right, just because it takes effort to provide Craigslist-level service.
> There is a reason Craigslist doesn't make that data available - it would reduce the utility for sellers of their website, reducing their revenue and potentially drying up their business. Trying to squeeze it out of Google's cache is still copyright infringement.
Uhm, providing one company data in a different template would reduce said company revenue? Excuse me, but under which rock have you been living for the last 20 years? You ever heard of "social sharing"? "like" button? Does "API" ring any bell?? Why do you think most companies provide those?? Most would die for other developers to actually spend their time and effort to build front gates based on their data. I hope you are not working on any startup bro, because you seriously have a shitty point of view!
> Yes, it does. By scraping craigslist in an attempt to undermine their platform [...]
What do you mean by "undermine their platform" ?? Why would you automatically assume that all the OP wants to do is to kill or undermine someones business?? Further, he would have to be retarded to do so! Why would he work on a project that the core is based off of external data and the same time wanted to... kill that data source?? You lack logic here, again.
> By scraping craigslist in an attempt to undermine their platform you are eliminating their site's relatively utility for buyers, which eliminates the impetus for sellers to list there
Yes definitely -- A website where I could see all the pictures of furniture posted on Craiglist on one page which gives me an easy access to scroll down in less than 2 minutes (to actually see what I want to buy), versus spending 45 minutes clicking on each and every post on the original Craigslist website -- yes, definitely because that evil website stealing Craigslist data made me save 40 minutes I will never use Craiglist as either buyer or seller ever again.
What a bullshit!
If this isn't satire, well all I can say is i hope you build something awesome one day. I presume your above manifesto can be construed as an invitation to insert myself between you and the userbase you invested so much to accumulate?
Please recognize the distinction. I'm not saying they're outside their rights to deny this access or that Padmapper is somehow within theirs by violating the ToS, just that if it's a win for everyone, shutting it down doesn't make sense.
Eric might protest that all he wants is to save apartment hunters from minutes of work. The reality is that PM's long-term viability depends on him getting acces to some of that listing fee cash, which almost defintely means reducing CL's revenue. Unless you think he's going to convince agents to pay twice to get in front of an overlapping set of viewers.
You need to learn a little bit about Craiglist. Every single section of the site has been copied over and over again, including big names like Angie's List, Ebay, etc. But yet its been so many years and Craiglist traffic and revenue continue to grow.
CL has such an incredible solid network effect that me and most users couldnt care less how awesome the website to quickly browse CL photos grow. The moment they go solo and decide to disconnect, the moment I come back to CL to post/browse. Simple.
Either Google will have to begin applying constraints to cacheing, or the websites will have to apply constraints to Google indexing, or the websites will have to enter into an arms race with the likes of 3taps.
The end result will be a great deal of wasted money, and if 3taps is actually successful, the decimation of the businesses whose data they rely on.
Then what? Is 3taps going to build another Craigslist, for free, and open up their data silo to the internet?
I like flickr's approach. Users own the content and define the copyright. Flickr provides an open API and a TOU which makes it tricky and/or illegal to source the content directly from their servers.
If a billion dollar business relies on people giving them content for free and them keeping the copyright and re-selling the content, then I think maybe they're the morally bankrupt ones.
APIs are everywhere now and API use is becoming quite a big sticking point. I think content API platforms are the future of the Internet and a lot of the big names (Facebook, Yelp, Twitter, Foursquare, etc.) But yes, someone needs to figure out how to monetize being a content platform (in a non-Wikipedia way). Assuming you have the right to take the content, resell it and own the copyright seems like a weak assumption that has only worked so far while people were less savvy about it.
Update: The comment you quoted is a year old and Craigslist only recently blocked Google. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/craigslist-blocks-search-engines Perhaps they decided to block everyone to bolster a legal case against aggregators like Padmapper.
But public facts are public property.
Are they though? In the absence of any terms that specify otherwise, I would expect to retain copyright over anything I post to Craigslist. To play devil's advocate, maybe I wrote a literary masterpiece or uploaded some great photos trying to sell my [random item] - just because I put them on Craigslist doesn't mean I'm releasing them into the public domain. For whatever reason, I may want to retain control over my post, and only give permission to Craigslist to use it.
To take this "public domain" argument to the extreme, does this mean any pictures I put up on Craigslist can be used royalty-free by anyone for any purpose, forever? That's absurd.
Edit: most of the arguments here seem to be around whether Craigslist owns the listings, but I think that's missing the point. The user owns the listing, and none of the aggregators have any way to get the users' consent before reusing their listings. In most cases, yes, of course I'm happy to have my listing show up on aggregators and increase its exposure, but that's not really the point - the point is end users have no control over it.
I think what he's saying is, that the fact that you are publicly selling your picture is in the public domain, a public fact about the economy, and unmonopolizable by any one private subject.
Even if they did copy and host the image themselves, they would be liable but still be okay because the burden is on the user who owns the data to file a DMCA takedown notice for that content. The worst Craigslist could do here is inform the users (who own the content) that their listing is being shown on Site X and provide a link to the page where the user can file a takedown notice. I don't know about you, but I probably would be happy that the listing is getting more exposure on more sites. I think most users would.
Markets are natural monopolies. Liquidity begets liquidity. The breaking down of these silos is a great thing for price discovery and a better functioning market. The creation of decentralized markets where all listings are available and discoverable is really only a matter of time. When that happens buy and sell offers will be fully free and the idea of a centralized site with free listings like Craigslist will be a quaint notion and we'll all be better off because of it.