Another development in the ongoing Craigslist data scraping story: Craigslist has added in a new proviso for those posting ads, telling them that Craigslist now becomes the “exclusive licensee” of the content in that ad.
“Clicking ‘Continue’ confirms that craigslist is the exclusive licensee of this content, with the exclusive right to enforce copyrights against anyone copying, republishing, distributing or preparing derivative works without its consent,” Craigslist informs users posting ads. The move is the latest in an ongoing situation that has seen the listings site send out cease and desist letters to a number of developers that have created apps to navigate Craigslist’s extensive content, and going so far as to sue two of them, Padmapper and 3Taps.
The exclusive license change was spotted by Jonathan Berger, a Mountain View resident (and Xoogler; Berger was an early employee of Katango, sold to Google), who noted it on his blog a little while ago.
The post was subsequently linked on Hacker News and has been getting a lot of mostly puzzled and negative responses, wondering just how far that exclusivity reaches and whether this is taking Craigslist into new, anti-competitive waters. One example:
Nice, you take the time to craft your listing on craigslist and now you’ve lost the right to repost your listing ANYWHERE else. I think we can safely assume that craigslist has a monopoly in (free) online classifieds and this reeks of very anti-competitive behavior. Wonder what the DOJ thinks of this.
Another reader points out that in fact this may have always been a clause for Craigslist postings, but that it has simply now made the fact more prominent:
Berger told TechCrunch he thought the “exclusive” clause simply furthers the “ridiculousness of the whole situation Craigslist is causing.” He also notes in his blog post that several other sites that collect written user-generated content have significantly more open approaches: Yelp and Facebook note that by posting on their sites you offer “non-exclusive” rights to the content; Google doesn’t specify non-exclusive or exclusive; instead it notes that a user grants Google a worldwide license to the content in question.
We’re reaching out to Craigslist for some clarification and will update when we hear back, but as it continues to wage war on third-party developers and close off its content windows, at some point the company might like to reconsider the all-for-one peace symbol it still uses as its logo.
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