Apartment Search Engine PadMapper Gets A Cease-And-Desist From Craigslist, Removes Listings

Update: PadMapper found a workaround to include Craigslist postings again.

It’s been years since I’ve had to look for an apartment, but in that time multiple friends have sung the praises of PadMapper (TechCrunch alumnus Greg Kumparak is a fan too). Usually, they describe it as a mashup of Google Maps and Craigslist. Starting today, unfortunately, they’ll have to scratch “Craigslist” from the equation.

According to an account that creator Eric DeMenthon published on the PadMapper blog, and that he elaborated on over email, Craigslist’s lawyer sent him a cease-and-desist letter earlier this week, demanding that PadMapper take down any postings from Craigslist. The lawyer also sent DeMenthon a mobile license, so he could pay to use the postings in a mobile app.

“When I told him that the website was the most important part of PadMapper, and that many millions of people depend on PadMapper to find places, the lawyer said flatly that they don’t license to websites,” DeMenthon says.

As a result, DeMenthon is in the process of removing Craigslist postings from the PadMapper site. That seems like a pretty big blow, although PadMapper still includes listings from other sites like Apartments.com, as well as listings posted directly through its PadListings service.

I’ve contacted Craigslist for comment and will update this post if I hear back. In the meantime, DeMenthon also sent me a copy of the cease-and-desist, which seems to match-up with his account. The letter says that DeMenthon is in violation of Craigslist’s terms of use, and it demands that he confirm in writing that he has “ceased and will forever desist from all access to and use of Craigslist for any reason or purpose whatsoever, directly and through any other person or entity.” (I’ve embedded the full letter below.)

Obviously, I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sympathetic to DeMenthon’s position — which, actually, is more of an appeal to common sense than a legal argument. PadMapper, he says, “just acts as a search engine and sends all traffic back to the sites it searches.” In other words, it’s helping Craigslist by sending traffic to its listings, not hurting it or competing with it. DeMenthon says he’s hoping that if PadMapper fans reach out to Craigslist to try to explain that perspective, he might convince the company to change its mind.

Update: Posterous co-founder and Y Combinator partner Garry Tan just published an open letter to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and CEO Jim Buckmaster asking them to reverse the company’s decision.