CL is simple, unobtrusive, and doesn't make its users feel like it's try to monetize every click or pageview. That's why the dominate the market. I love it that they sue the hell out of anyone that tries to ride on their coattails. If they're doing it wrong, someone can prove it buy building a better classified ad site and clean up the market.
EDIT: since I'm getting downvoted anyway, and I have no conflict of interest (not a CL employee, relative, and very infrequent user).... pg, instead of posting stuff like this, you have unique resources at your disposal to build a CL clone that behaves in the way you wish CL would behave. How hard could it be? Or is it that building up and operating a classified listing site while allowing 3rd party sites to repost your listings is a money loser?
3taps is alleging that this monopoly position, combined with craigslist's legal and technical efforts to block any innovation that makes use of data posted on craigslist, constitutes anti-competitive behavior. Whether that assertion has legal merit I don't know, but it seems we'll soon find out.
Edit: Ironically, Krrb itself is essentially an attempt to create this 'better craigslist' you describe. They attempted to deal with the craigslist monopoly problem by providing an easy way for users to post on both craigslist and Krrb, for which they received the C&D.
Is it unfair to observe that the way to create a new craigslist should not depend on content already posted on CL? Of course, if krrb or whoever was the source of the content which it then autoposted to CL, they would run afoul of the autoposting prohibitions on CL that Craig does not enforce (or is being paid not to enforce) against the third-party resume sites (jobvite, sourcery, etc.) that have been ruining the CL jobs section over the past couple of years.
The 'Nature of the Case' section at the beginning provides their allegations regarding craigslist's monopoly. IANAL so I don't feel qualified to discuss the legal merits, although reading the claims they at least sound worth investigating.
The end result is the same -- the same data as Craigslist being displayed on a different site -- but this is coming from the Krrb users' own volitions, which I think makes this much more difficult to justify from Craigslist's point of view.
I honestly don't understand why Craiglist has taken this tack. I think the moves they've made in the past are respectable (as in, they have the right to protect their data and leverage their position) -- I just think there's more value to the company and the community to become the Amazon of local.
That said, I expect no response from Craig. Despite his self proclaimed love of customer support, he has been very quiet on these issues.
"Web 2.0 describes web sites that use technology beyond the static pages of earlier web sites...A Web 2.0 site may allow users to interact and collaborate with each other"
Craigslist, along with Flickr, Twitter, etc, are the quintessential Web 2.0 sites.
I've been in Silicon Valley since 1996, CL is not Web 2.0
I bet if the button were changed to just cut/paste an html link to <city>.craigslist.org/post all would be well.
This is just CL trying to keep their postings exclusive to their website of which they've spent many a time and money trying to build and brand.
The difference being it is it would be a Craigslist post I wrote and would contain photos I took. Those words came from my head, so are you saying Craigslist owns the copyright to them as soon as I submit the ad and thus I cannot post that content elsewhere?
As the article said, Krrb is not scraping or even visiting Craigslist. The data gets to Krrb on the volition of the user who posted to Craigslist.
> Craigslist owns the copyright to them as soon as I submit the ad and thus I cannot post that content elsewhere?
You absolutely have that right. It's your data, you can re-post it wherever you like. However, Krrb does not have the right to scrape data from Craigslist, on your say-so.
The content was posted to Craigslist with a license for Craigslist to publish it, not for Krrb. Much like a book author gives up certain rights to distribute a book through a publisher (including where and when it's published), the user is giving up certain rights to post the content on Craigslist. Whether this is a bad thing or not is up to the author of the content, not a 3rd party to decide.
If I write an ad for a chair I want to sell, I should be able to post it to Craigslist and any other site I want to. The Krrb button is no different than the user manually copying and pasting her own content into Krrb's posting form.
It's important to note that Krrb and Padmapper both make the distinction that they're scraping facts, not posts. One is copyrightable, the other is not.
You can lay claim to the sentence "I have a room in a 2-bedroom apartment for rent in Williamsburg, going for $1500"
But you do not have the right to own the fact that there's a room for rent in Williamsburg, in a 2-bedroom, for $1500. It would seem that Krrb and Padmapper both scrape the facts only, not textual content - or at least, that's what the letter seems to say.
This is a frequent misunderstanding of the Padmapper issue. Padmapper never scraped posts wholesale from Craigslist - it scraped and displayed only structured data (i.e. facts), and in fact if you wanted to contact the seller it links you directly to the Craigslist post!
Craigslist can only litigate on that basis because they know Krrb doesn't have the means to defend themselves. That's not a public good.
But padmapper is clearly leveraging Craiglist's infrastructure for padmapper’s own benefit. I find that difficult to defend.
Making the user press a button then automatically copy/paste the url is bad.
Cutting / pasting content from CL: bad.
Cutting / pasting a post URL from CL: good.
After his/their repugnant treatment of Eric/padmapper and their more than glacial acceptance of the fact the CL UI sucked and was actually punitive to the UX - and yet another example of CL just being jerks, I am pretty much completely devoid of any respect for Craig/CL.
It's too bad, especially given how Craig attempts to keep a socially responsible image - I think his persona is a farce.
A cautionary tale to anyone placing special powers on someone who has achieved something great, that is that they have special powers everywhere and are generally right or have special insight about most things. They aren't. The best baseball player isn't any better at buying a car than a regular guy (and probably not anywhere as good as I am!)
Anything else is acting like a spoiled child. Padmapper should f off and build their own listings.
Further, the argument that zealous attempts at protecting IP means you should be .com not org falls pretty short to me. The Red Cross has a policy of sending C&Ds to game companies that use the red cross on white logo, and also claim such use violates the Geneva convention. This may be overreach, but it would be a strange stretch to claim such actions meant the Red Cross should dump their .org domain.
I've worked with a few associates at Perkins Coie. They represented the nonprofit I work for at no cost in an arbitration case against a dodgy web development shop that sued our nonprofit for nearly a fourth of our annual budget over a breach of contract after we fired them for being incapable of keeping our site up under even modest traffic levels. (Load testing and not letting junior developers with no experience with caching, MVC best practices etc, do all the work: how does that work)
The Lawyers were nice, polite, well mannered, treating us and the opposition with respect, etc. They were a pleasure to work with. I didn't see a single crony in the bunch.
Lawyers are lawyers. They do what they have to do to protect the interests of their clients. That is their job. Perkins Coie is very good at their job. That doesn't some how make them bad people.
Add value? They're extracting value.
> I will be avoiding use of Craig's List's services until I feel like they are allowing people to innovate off their platform and ceasing to try to own their users' content.
Will you also be boycotting all books, TV, and movies until their authors grant unlimited licenses to use the content for whatever value-extracting purpose anyone wants?
Will you boycott your local businesses until they agree to let competitors post in-store advertisements?
It's someone ironic in the face of Marco's post regarding the open web, that CL maintains such a moat around their content through litigation/legal threats.
Don't get me wrong - I absolutely understand why CL does it, and I'm sure most of the business savvy people here realize it's a profit-maximizing strategy given CL's current market position.
But - it might be just a local maxima.
I wonder, if given a different approach, CL might be able to build something more open and visionary; a platform that other developers can build on top of, instead of being prevented from doing anything innovative by CL and their legal team?
on a sidenote, the fact that the legal system makes it so expensive to defend themselves that they prefer to just obey really means the rich always get justice on their side. it's a really big issue. i wonder why there isn't any start up that tries to address it.
"Possibly the only CEO ever described as anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist"
He's turning around these press insults and using them as badges of honor.
It was Fortune Magazine that questioned whether he was a communist, because he wasn't focused on maximizing profits.
And yes it is the user's content but it is posted on CL subject to the TOS.
Put yourself in CL's shoes: they have to defend not only against "fledgling startups" but also against deep pocketed companies like Yahoo that sometimes buy fledgling startups. They cannot leave their service vulnerable to the whims of any parasitical company that would come along and attempt to exploit their users, their community, and their users' content.
Another piece that Krrb is pretending to ignore is that the users only take the initiative to post in the first place because of the good will and critical mass that Craigslist has, with long investment and significant sacrifice, been able to create. Leveraging third party services is a time honored model for startups, but a startup founder should not expect a free pass if they try to do so in an abusive manner that induces users to violate the TOS.
Shouldn't the user have the right to do what they want with the classified ad they wrote?
If that were true then CL would be liable for their content. If a pimp posts a message and CL owns it, then CL is responsible for pimping. When state AG's have pressed this issue, CL claims they don't own the message.
They can't have it both ways.
The krrb tool extracts data from a file not on craigslist servers, but from the browser cache on your own computer. It's a browser plug-in, not a server-side tool. If CL is okay with you downloading a copy so that you can see the post that you just made (which they obviously are by virtue of how their service works) then in fact there is no additional bandwidth being consumed!
It is just that, with a copy-paste job, it would be impossible to detect this, which is why they seem functionally equivalent. But actually they're not.
Also automation and convenience have huge legal implications. I can, for example buy an iPod in the US and gift it to a friend of mine in Turkey. We have effectively circumvented state tax. I can't, however, write a website that acts as a broker between US passengers landing in Istanbul airport, and people who want cheap iPods. Even though they would be technically paired up with a "friend" and would be within their legal rights to bring valuable goods into the country.
I can have a friend stay a few days at my house, but I can't turn my house into a hotel with Airbnb. Volume and convenience affect the bottom line for different parties.
I'd agree, but this is precisely what Craigslist is disputing in their C&D. Reread the letter.
CL seems to have a stone age version of automatic. A cave man would think a cigarette lighter automatically creates fire, but it just technology that's improved.
Instead of rubbing sticks together for a half hour we can make fire with flick of our thumb. We still had to do something.
Higher productivity != automation and shouldn't be used as an arbitrary measure of legality.
> 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.
Note, it's not exclusive. If you post it to Craigslist they get to use it how they see fit, but you can post it other places.
Wonder why Craig doesn't like it..
Before pointing a finger at Craig, how about you build something from grounds up, get to Craig's level and then allow anyone else to just take stuff away from you, piece by piece.
He is still providing value to people by letting people post and use it. Of-course he is making money, but anything worth charging will be charged.
He is just as passionate about his site and what he has built as you are. Maybe he just doesn't want you to build a building on his island. So be it, there is a whole world out there waiting for you.
Bottom line : Stop wasting time, build something else. You are smart enough to work on a completely unique idea of your own. Why spend your energy on sipping from someone else's ocean when you have an ocean inside you.
I guess we need to heavily regulate these digital monopolies, coerce them somehow.
As far as I can tell Craig cares a lot about the world. I'm sorry if he has been focused on customer service and his nonprofit work and doesn't have time to go out of his way to save every single wantrapanuer that believes they've figured out some way to make a dime off of his past investment in craigslist.
I don't really follow his comments in the news and so on but everything I've gleaned first hand and second hand about the guy leaves me thinking that he's still a class act, and all around traditional geek.
As far as kribbr or whatever it is called goes . . . if there is a long history of litigious behavior from an organization and you go ahead with a business model that may spark a C&D don't act like your personal hero has stabbed you int he back. Whether the C&D was grounded or not how is it occurring a surprise. CL has every legal right to try to protect their business model to the extent allowed by the law. If you genuinely feel that they've over stepped it then fight it. Or come up with a business model that disrupts the space with out needing to leech off of what is already there.
I love this term. How did I not know of it before?
On the one hand, you're correct in identifying the scrapers' intent, on the other its an ugly sentiment and the sort of thinking I would prefer to discourage if you are advocating for it.
To the extent that I have opinions about it, probably mildly negative. I'm skeptical of the view that anything you can possibly monetize is automatically a good idea.
(I may or may not have been involved with a company that did this to great success.)
The plugin today quite arguably scrapes Craigslist programmatically. I think Craigslist has a case there.
However, if Krrb instead injected JS at post-time to publish cross-site, I think that argument becomes much less convincing.
You can make a case on either side, but I think doing it at post time is important (for one thing, it guarantees that the publisher is actually the person krrbing it)
Edit to reply to below: Ah, ok. Your phrasing of "piggyback your plugin into popular installers to get this on millions of computers" sounded like you were planning to sneak it in without users' awareness. If it's an explicit opt in, then I would have no great problem with that from a user perspective. (Of course as a user I'd prefer to just install what I want, rather than being presented with options for a bunch of unrelated stuff, but advertising and affiliate programs keep things going, so I deal with it.)
Personally don't have a problem with the part about scraping something I might post on a classifieds site. Whenever I post something on a public web site I expect it to be scraped and to appear on search engines and such. It was specifically the idea of a service running on my computer, watching and potentially publishing aspects of my web use (and who knows what else), without my knowledge or permission that I took issue with.
I'm defining "piggyback downloads" as the extra page that comes up in someones installer. Isn't this a well-established practice? Maybe it's disappeared in the past few years?
I also love seeing this argument come within a community that's generally supportive of programmatically scraping that same user data and republishing it without user permission (although that was more what Padmapper did, not krrb).
Edit: your point re: increase chances of being sued vs. increase chances of success in court is well taken.
Really patronizing tone though and I bet that will backfire on them.
And I personally find the website very easy to navigate.
They've had the capital, the resources, and the users who provided the content which were all they needed and could eventually launch a way to ship and provide feedback for users and destroy eBay. I think Craig sold out and doesn't have a lot of say in the legal matters which is why it happens in the first place and Craigslist really will never improve.
I agree that it appears Craig doesn't appear to have much say in legal matters at craigslist, but that appears to be because he has voluntarily ceded control to Jim Buckmaster.
That's why Craigslist is so litigious, even on the posting ad side. It seems hard to justify legally, but they probably figure small startups won't be able to fight them in court.
The postings themselves belong (in a moral sense; I'm not sure what the current craigslist license is) to the people posting them. If I post my room for rent, I would be happy to have more people see the listing, especially with a clean UI (like padmapper). I'd be aggrieved if Craig Newmark blocked people from seeing the listing. The "server load" issue is a red herring; people have been more than willing to pay a reasonable fee to offset that, and it's a minimal amount of load to begin with.
It's even more egregious in the case of a posting tool, which is what this appears to be.
I agree IV is a vastly bigger deal; I personally just soft-boycott Craigslist, but if I had a chance to destroy IV while taking only moderate legal or financial damage, I'd do so. But I think a lot of that is due to the patent system being totally horrible, and copyright being only moderately broken (and trademark being only slightly broken). If Craig/Buckmaster had the ability to use the patent system to kill services which might compete with them, they probably would claim it was "helping their users by making the market more comprehensive and efficient", too.
Sure, it's the KKK vs. Augusta National, but mostly a difference in degree.
Legal team: Hmm -- we get paid for anything we find. Let's widen the scope a little bit...