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Twitter’s Response To PeopleBrowsr Lawsuit: ‘This Is Contracts 101′ (techcrunch.com)
55 points by busted 1640 days ago | hide | past | web | 20 comments | favorite

If Twitter hadn't been acting like a jerk to their developer community for the last 2 years, I would completely side with Twitter on this.

However, given Twitter's recent behavior of backpedalling on expectations they set for developing on their platform, and their disrespect for developers who've been cheerleading and building apps for them the last 6 years, I'm glad to see someone fight back the best they can. If for no other reason than to illustrate that they're acting like jerks. Unfortunately, given Twitter's response and hand waving dismissal, I don't think they received the message. They could have at least paid a little lip-service. Ya' know, act like they give a damn.


This lawsuit seems like crap, and it makes me feel really uncomfortable -- what if I don't have millions in VC funding? It basically means that a random person with enough resources can tie me down with a bogus lawsuit even if I have a legally-sound contract that is supposed to protect me.

I agree that Twitter backtracked on their API and platform, but a bogus lawsuit is the exact opposite of the right way to fight back. Even though App.net and others have their flaws, that is the "right" way: developers have to steal people's attention away from Twitter instead of going for a lawsuit that doesn't make sense.

> It basically means that a random person with enough resources can tie me down with a bogus lawsuit even if I have a legally-sound contract that is supposed to protect me.

yes, that's pretty much the state of things in the US. Anyone can file a lawsuit for any reason; granted if someone files for something stupid it will almost certainly be laughed out of court immediately, but you will still have to spend time and money defending yourself from it.

And this is in no way limited to companies. You can be sued for asking the guy behind you in line to talk into his cellphone quieter. That'll almost certainly be dismissed with prejudice, but you'll still need to either research the law yourself or contact a lawyer to deal with that idiot.

Somewhat. The person filing the lawsuit has to be able to convince a lawyer to pursue the case. In other words, that person needs to have money.

In a situation like this, people should be publicly shaming PeopleBrowser (people publicly shamed Twitter for going back on their API!), and I'm happy that the tone of the TechCrunch article at least portrayed PeopleBrowser in a negative light.

Where the legal system fails, social pressure is the next best option.

agreed. Honestly, I'd be more worried about a laywer than anyone else because the lawyer only needs to convince himself and is always willing to work this case pro bono.

"What we didn't know about <him> was that he was a retired lawyer, and which is one of the dangerous breeds of lawyer because they have nothing but time to crawl right up your ass" -Stephen Colbert [1]

[1]: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v...

This is pretty much how I feel. In a word Twitter has been a jerk, but being a jerk isn't illegal.

Meh. The schoolyard bully isn't getting my sympathy. PeopleBrowsr is doing little more than squirming in Twitter's grasp. It's not like there's some great injustice about their legal case. It's more like a last ditch attempt at trying to prevent getting their butt whooped. But don't loss heart, I'm sure Twitter will still give PeopleBrowsr a good beating.

I don't see how even deep and reasonable lack of sympathy for Twitter, and equally deep sympathy for PeopleBrowsr, has any bearing on Twitter's right to terminate a contract it has a clear right to terminate.

Unless Twitter is grossly misrepresenting the facts, PeopleBrowsr knew perfectly well what terms they were getting their access on. The contract expired 16 months ago and has been automatically renewed on a month-by-month basis, with a 30 days notice period. Twitter then gave notice.

My feelings towards Twitter have absolutely no bearing on their contract with PeopleBrowsr. Of this I'm aware.

They might want to consider PR though. But, to be honest, I think they have considered it, and their position is "we don't care what the neck-beards think about us anymore, @katyperry is trending!"

So I'm a neck-beard and I take offense to this. It's practically what they want.

I don't see what's to get up in arms about. As far as I can tell Twitter wants to use 3 re-sellers not cut access. Honestly, this seems more inline with an ecosystem and far less prone to abuse. Just look at what adding 3rd party re-sellers aka "domain name registrars" did to the DNS market.

The world is full of pricks, jerks, and assholes.

Taking sides in a legal battle based on which party dots their Is with little hearts, instead of based on logical arguments and legal precedent, is ignorant.

It strikes me a little odd that twitter doesn't want to have a larger hand in their data distribution. Having some one else handle it seems like something a non-tech company would do. Scaling and automating the distribution to subscribers doesn't strike me as a problem twitter would have a hard time solving and I hardly doubt they need any one else to sell it for them from a marketing standpoint. What, from a business perspective, do you suppose is driving their decision to only work with three companies?

Are you sure that Twitter is a tech company?

Surely Twitter is a content company enabled by tech? Their technology is easily replicated, the thing they have of value is the content.

Increasingly I think they're no more a tech company than say, Warner Brothers. Warners rely completely on tech for creating and distributing content but it's not ultimately what they produce which is of interest and / or value. Ditto Twitter.

These days, Twitter seems to be a "let's piss everyone off, we're big enough that they can't do anything about it" company.

I've been a member since 01/2007 and have been developing against their API for nearly as long (though for what I imagine are rather obvious reasons, I haven't been near it recently). I've seen more fail whales than I could possibly count. I've sent 5000 tweets over the last nearly six years. I'm even listed as a contributor in the original O'Reilly book on Twitter API development.

I've seen it slowly become less and less useful and usable. I've watched them make their developers and contributing users hate them as they struggled to find a business model (who else remembers the #dickbar ?). I'm now watching them destroy their ecosystem as they try to execute on their chosen business model.

Twitter, I am disappoint.

For what Twitter is today, I'm sure they are. They are essentially the world's largest chat room except every participant gets to curate their own experience (plus it's all indexed). Maybe their revenue stream won't be directly a tech product but will certainly be the result of one.

What do you mean by "won't be directly"? It seems like you're implying they're not making money today, which they most certainly are. They do have a revenue stream. Several, really, between promoted tweets, promoted accounts, and the firehose.

Last I heard, the firehose is something like 30MB/s of data. Maybe maintaining a pipe like that to a large number of subscribers is just not what Twitter wants to spend its time or money on.

Its an interesting twist, if you reason that part of Twitter's enterprise value is its Firehose data then unwinding these contracts is in Twitter's best interest. However I have experienced first hand problems with contracts written "pre-success" that didn't anticipate what success would look like. Depending on the players those have generally been amended amicably. On the other hand it does seem like it will damage Peoplebrowsr's product to lose access. Perhaps its just a money question?

This happens especially a lot with companies that don't actually have and programmers on staff. Changing means of access means they basically have to buy their outsourced app all over again...

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