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An Open Letter to Craig Newmark (krrb.com)
278 points by pg on July 3, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 104 comments



Craigslist has been incredibly consistent about its position. It would be shocking of Krrb didn't get a C&D. The author's mock surprise and petty insults come off really pathetic given this is clearly a planned publicity stunt.

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?


No, it's that craigslist has massive network effects working for them, so there's no incentive for buyers or sellers to use a different site, even with a better interface and feature set.

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.


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.


It's a tough question. If craigslist truly does have a monopoly, then it indeed might be fair for competitors to have some use of content already posted on craigslist. Also, in the case of Krrb it's the user posting the content, who owns the copyright to such content, using their own computer to copy it to Krrb. Krrb is simply providing a tool for them to do so more easily. That certainly seems like it should be acceptable.


Well, then lets cut to the chase: does Craigslist have a monopoly? If so, in what way are they using it illegally?


You can read 3taps' antitrust claims submission here: https://3taps.com/papers/3taps_Amended_Counterclaim.pdf

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.


It's important to note that this is, at first glance, a different beast than the padmappers/3Taps issues, which were primarily about scraping craigslist data and placing it on a different site. Krrb has users press a button, which scrapes a given post.

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.


It is quite different.

That said, I expect no response from Craig. Despite his self proclaimed love of customer support, he has been very quiet on these issues.


Smart businessmen (who want to stay in business) don't blog about litigious information, no matter how cool or web 2.0 it is to do so now days. They let their lawyers handle it.


uh.... there is NOTHING web 2.0 about CL


well it's profitable... actually you're right


That was his point, web 2.0 is blogging about ongoing litigation.


From Wikipedia:

"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.


Sorry, craigslist predates that definition. It predates wikipedia as well.

I've been in Silicon Valley since 1996, CL is not Web 2.0

/Lawn


CL was originally a mailing list operated from well.sf.ca.us, iirc.


Care to elaborate?


Customer support is a quite different from public relations.


I think this is the same issue as Padmapper, just on a much smaller scale. Don't write code that will re-display/re-post content of a Craigslist post on your 3rd party website.

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.


>Don't write code that will re-display/re-post content of a Craigslist post on your 3rd party website.

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.


> The data gets to Krrb on the volition of the user who posted to Craigslist.

How does Krrb verify this? How does Krrb ensure that it's the post's author, and not some random bot hitting executing their javascript in an effort to scam users?

> 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.


-> "Krrb does not have the right to scrape data from Craigslist, on your say-so." Wrong logic here my friend, it is the user to scrape and repost. Krrb just help user to make the process easier by making the tool


The question is whose data is it? Padmapper just scraped whole site for apartment listings. This is an action by the user to take their post, which they wrote, and redisplay it somewhere else.

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.


I don't think this is what's happening here - for either Krrb or Padmapper.

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!


Does it matter that they are using Craigslist infrastructure to automate the process? Consuming bandwidth that Craigslist pays for and taking advantage of the hosting Craigslist is offering their paying customers? Sure, facts are not copyrightable, but if you took a stack of phonebooks from a recycling bin and starting selling them as your own, I think the company that printed the phones books might have an issue with that.


As I understand it, Krrb is not using Craigslist infrastructure - it is simply taking the post already in the user's browser because they navigated there in the process of entering the post, and copying the text out for reuse.

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.


The post I was replying to was grouping krrb and padmapper. I don't know much about krrb or what it does. Seems like a glorified copy past so I'm not sure how that exactly translates to a business worth putting this much effort into defending. Maybe I'm missing something.

But padmapper is clearly leveraging Craiglist's infrastructure for padmapper’s own benefit. I find that difficult to defend.


I agree with you on padmapper.


Plus there needs to be a certain level of creative expression for copyright to apply, so even the sentence, "I have a room in a 2-bedroom apartment for rent in Williamsburg, going for $1500," would almost certainly not be copyrightable. (That said, some of the posts on craigslist are certainly creative, so copying the full contents of everything would likely violate copyrights, but as you say, that's not what Padmapper is doing. (Not to mention the copyrights on the individual posts belong to the users, not to craigslist, in any case.))


Do you think Craigslist would have any issue with an app that let you post to both Craigslist and Krrb?


Craigslist does not allow any app that automatically posts to craigslist, regardless of post quantity or frequency, so yes.


Making the user press a button then manually copy/paste the url is okay.

Making the user press a button then automatically copy/paste the url is bad.

Got it.


Actually:

Cutting / pasting content from CL: bad.

Cutting / pasting a post URL from CL: good.


I used to have a great deal of admiration for Craig, and craigslist... It's all but dissolved.

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.


I've never bought into this "nice guy" image Craig Newmark seems to have cultivated for himself. Between numerous interviews where he gives flippant, condescending answers to reasonable questions and the overly litigious actions of the company that bears his name, I don't have a particularly high opinion of the man and I'm not surprised by this latest episode with Krrb.


In a sense he is a man who is limited in many areas but has been thrust into the limelight and given much power.

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!)


You don't rip off a company in an "attempt to make it better." You make your own listing site, build your own brand, and compete on the merits of your "superior UX."

Anything else is acting like a spoiled child. Padmapper should f off and build their own listings.


Craig is almost entirely not involved in the day-to-day running of the company, he spends most of his time on those social causes.


While I agree with the main argument of the letter, I don't understand the characterization of CL's law firm as "infamous," and its employees as "cronies." What exactly are they infamous for? Just sending C&Ds on behalf of Craigslist?

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 agree Antiterra,

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.


The tone of this letter is horrible IMO. I understand you're angry, but I imagine this will piss him off more than rile him up. I'd rather see you take them to court with a strong case than start a public, one-sided flame war. There must be a syndicate of investors that realize it would beneficial for them in the long-run to see Craigslist lose the stronghold they have on classified's data. PG (submitted this) and Garrytan (got angry re: padmapper) might be a good starting point.


I think it's a good letter. Up until now, I wasn't aware that Craig's List had moved in such a contentious and litigious direction. It sounds like instead of innovating and improving their service, CL is spending its time trying to squash anybody who tries to add value to their product. They have a right to do what they want as a business, but I also have a right to judge their practices and protest with my voice and my wallet. I get turned off by overly whiny and emotional complaint letters, but I found this one more factual than emotional. 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.


"... squash anybody who tries to add value to their product"

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?


They certainly get marks for consistency. I'm willing to bet that 90+% of the regular HN audience would have been able to predict precisely what CL would do in the face of scraping (and yes, that's what the krrb button does) CL content.

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?


i'm also willing to bet that not a single CL user would understand why CL claims ownership on their ad content, when the user themselves are the ones publishing it elsewhere.

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.


The worst part is the hypocracy... what Buckmaster claims about himself:

"Possibly the only CEO ever described as anti-establishment, a communist, and a socialistic anarchist"

http://www.craigslist.org/about/jim_buckmaster


i've often noticed that many people claiming to be communist simply have an unhealthy love/hate relationship with money.


The quote loses all its context without the underlying hyperlinks.

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.


The big red flag here is the author splitting hairs about the copied content being "factual data." This tells me he is insincerely attempting to navigate a perceived loophole. Anyone who has visited "Best of Craigslist" (http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/all/) will see that there is a ton of creativity there, not just factual data. This goes for classifieds posts as well.

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.


craigslist's position is pretty clear, whether they publicly admit it or not: they don't want, and will aggressively work to prevent, other companies attempting to bootstrap themselves off craigslist's content. I don't know why we have to all pretend we're shocked about this.


I think you mean craiglist's users' content.

Shouldn't the user have the right to do what they want with the classified ad they wrote?


Sure, they have the right to post their content anywhere they want, but after that it's CL's. Same is true with comments, posts on discussion/Q&A sites, etc.


>but after that it's CL's

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.


Um, yes they can. You are free to post the same content elsewhere -- you still have copyright in the material. What you don't have is rights to redistribute content from Craigslist. The publisher's rights (which you granted) are different from the author's rights, but they still exist. That doesn't make them liable for your content.


What's the difference between copying and pasting from a single text file to both CL and krrb and copying and pasting from a CL post that you wrote to krrb? They're functionally equivalent as you're the author and retain your authorly rights in either case.

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!


Well technically an author, too, isn't allowed to scrape content from CL. Just like an author of a book is not authorized to make a copy of his own book. Can't break publisher's rules.

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.


> "You are free to post the same content elsewhere"

I'd agree, but this is precisely what Craigslist is disputing in their C&D. Reread the letter.


Isn't krrb just doing what you said they have the right to do "posting the same content elsewhere"?


It's not merely "the same content", it is content automatically sourced from Craigslist, and while that may seem like a picayune distinction, it is not.


It's not automatic. A user has to click a button on his bookmark bar for it to happen.

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.


http://www.craigslist.org/about/terms.of.use

> 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.


But you can't extract the content from CL when you do. If you have your textfile and pictures on your drive, feel free to publish to wherever. But you can't take that data from CL servers and do the same. that is a shortcut and krrb is trying to equate posting with user's computer data with posting from cl server data. they are not the same.


So if I post something on Facebook or on Stack Overflow, I have no right to repost that same content elsewhere on the internet? At what point did I assign copyright?


Actually, that is only true if craigslist asserts an exclusive copyright to the content, which except for a three-week period last summer, they do not.


hmm.. so this guy - Craig - works his ass off all these years and builds a site that makes him money. HIS hard work paying HIM money.Now someone else comes along and wants to build a site that has the potential to hurt Craig's work..

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.


It is always interesting to see a site where many users are all about free market and generally libertarianish thinking Craig should provide the infrastructure for them to monetize off of, because information should be free or something.

I guess we need to heavily regulate these digital monopolies, coerce them somehow.


This is a pointless waste if time. The guy has made shed loads of money and his actions have clearly demonstrated he doesn't give a flying whatever about anyone's opinion of his actions and will continue to do whatever maximizes his profit. I say that without positive or negative judgment. It just is what it is. The whole - hey we know you're really a nice kid so stop bullying the other kids - schtick never worked in the play ground and it doesn't work as grown ups. I see this sort of thing all the time. We don't live in a society where shame has any meaning any more so trying to appeal to someone's good nature and the whole "hey it's not you it's your minions" crap is of no use.


I've chatted with Craig before. He has helped us at greatnonprofits.org quite a bit in the past. Regardless of what business decisions the executives in charge of craigslist are making that does not somehow make Craig not a nice guy. In particular I respect his decision to not second guess or meddle with the judgement calls of the executives in charge of craiglist. I am sure if he has any disagreements with how they do business he has the tact to discuss this with them in private.

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've spoken with him too, very recently. It's my impression he's still actively answering support emails for CL (as in daily). No?


That is the impression I get. He comes to our annual events but I've been out of the country living the expat life and keeping expenses down . . . so you've likely spoken to him more recently than me. He talks with my CEO now and then and helps give her advice on growing our nonprofit and helping our consumers. Which we appreciate a lot.

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.


"Wantrapaneur"

I love this term. How did I not know of it before?


craigslist is far from profit maximizing. That's part of why craigslist's users tend to love it.


And that's also precisely what a lot of the CL scrapers want to go after— try to pick up money that CL is leaving on the table.


I'm not sure if I should vote you down or up, as I can't tell if you're in favor of scrapers "pick[ing] up money that CL is leaving on the table."

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.


It was mostly just an observation. I think the situation is that CL is not currently milking everything to the last penny, and other people see those pennies laying there tantalizingly, so want to build some milking apparatus on top of CL's pasture, to mix metaphors.

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.


You should piggyback your plugin into popular installers to get this on millions of computers. Then, don't make them push a button to post it on krrb, do it automatically. Make sure your TOS at install time says this is going to happen.

(I may or may not have been involved with a company that did this to great success.)


So instead of providing a useful service, they should distribute malware designed to... what, maximize their chances of being sued by craigslist?


Does it, though?

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)


Does it increase the chances that they would sue? Yes, it does. Does it increase the chances that they'd win? Perhaps not, if your arguments hold. Does that matter? No, because you're still talking about stealth distribution of a program that tracks and republishes user data without their knowledge or permission! (And no, a notice buried in the TOU doesn't count.)

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.


What if we put a little checkbox that says "Install the krrb plugin to automatically post your craigslist listings on krrb as well, thus increasing your chances at a sale."

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.


It could also encrypt the users important files and then demand money for the decryption key. It's all good if it's in the TOS!


Fundamentally different from other scraping sites. This is a client-side browser extension to extract your own content that you posted. I haven't read the TOS but users should retain ownership of their own content (as in, it's a good business practice that endears users). Petty move on the part of Craigslist.

Really patronizing tone though and I bet that will backfire on them.


Craigslist is the saddest example of a near natural monopoly formed in a two-sided market on the internet. Considering the pace of innovation over there, it's only a matter of time until they are disrupted. In the meantime we'll dread looking for apartments, buying/selling through classified ads, and anything else that we need to do on Craigslist.


I don't get your comment. How is Craigslist sad? Everyone seems to use them and I hear very few complaints.

And I personally find the website very easy to navigate.


Craigslist litigation history is available at:

http://www.plainsite.org/flashlight/index.html?id=3388&table...


eBay owns a reported at least 25% of Craigslist [1]. Whenever I tell people they are genuinely surprised. Craigslist never has really added huge features in years and I honestly think it is because eBay slows them down and doesn't want them to. Think about how Twitter and Facebook have grown built APIs, 3rd party integration and apps. Craigslist doesn't even have an official iPhone app.

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.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_acquisitions_by_eBay#ci...


I doubt Ebay has any influence on the day-to-day operations of Craigslist. They have those shares because CL gave them to an early employee who then sold Craig out. It was not an investment CL sought or wanted, and I suspect that the official answer to any Ebay request is a curt GFY.


Craig didn't sell to eBay, one of his employees did and it was a minor scandal at the time.


eBay owns a chunk of craigslist yes, but not a controlling share. The two companies have been involved in multiple legal battles. I doubt eBay is secretly pulling craigslist's strings while they sue each other.

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.


From the first couple paragraphs I though the was going to drop some bombshells, but nope, just another C&D.


Krrb just make a tool for user's convenience. Krrb didn't do any scraping of the content of craigslist. It is user's action/intent to scrape and repost. There is nothing wrong with Krrb just provides a tool for user's convenience


Craigslist is a poor website but since everyone uses them, everyone is locked into using them. Any site that helps people use Craigslist with other sites might cause people to eventually switch from Craigslist entirely. This applies to both finding listings and posting listings.

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.


A thousand startups and every newspaper have failed to topple craigslist-- but maybe their own over-litigiousness will (finally!) be the downfall.


I don't know if I should be disappointed in Craig Newmark or not, as I don't know how much control he has. He certainly has control to speak his mind. I've seen him at the National Conference for Media Reform, Netroots Nation, and Code for America events, so I know he's a good, well-intentioned guy.


You are a competitor. You are scraping material. Just make your app easier to use. I mean it's not rocket surgery. How could the New York Times let you scrape an article to put on your own site. Just give it a rest and take your lumps and move on.


What if you owned the copyright to the New York Times article?


At the end of the day, clever technical workarounds still usually get a cease-and-desist, because the people sending the letters have no incentive to understand why your workaround is so clever.


Can't anyone build an alternative to craigslist? It may not get as famous but if it actually stood for the openness described in that article it would be a hit with most of us at least.


Many people have built alternaives to Craigslist. For example, Gumtree, which is popular in the UK.


I wish someone would actually go to court vs. Craig; they're not as bad as Intellectual Ventures, but only because copyright law sucks somewhat less than patent law.


Uh, please do flesh out the comparison between a company that essentially pays law firms to sue people for using ideas and a company that builds a classifieds site and then refuses to let people build other businesses on top of that site.


(I don't strongly believe in this, but I do thing both IV and Craigslist suck. And it's worse in a way because IV was always evil; Craigslist actually was a force for good at one point, and has become evil.)

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.


Craig: legal team, take care of any violations.

Legal team: Hmm -- we get paid for anything we find. Let's widen the scope a little bit...


Pressing spacebar or pagedown hides content on that webpage. :(


Hi answer will probably be: TL;DR




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