Classified ads giant Craigslist has filed a lawsuit against Padmapper for scraping Craigslist's apartment data and putting it on a map on its own website.
The Padmapper lawsuit follows a recent trend of increasingly litigious action by Craigslist. Craigslist has reportedly filed several cease and desist letters and threatened several companies with lawsuits for using data curated from its site, reports Tech Crunch.
Given the value of the ads on Craigslist, it makes sense that the classifieds giant would want to keep all that data to itself.
The arguments made in the lawsuit were not reported, but Craigslist likely claims copyright ownership over all of its ads. While some may naturally associate works of art or a book with copyright protection, there is no legal requirement that someone has to create a long-lasting piece of literature to receive protection. Instead, any original work of authorship can be copyrighted.
So when scraping companies like Padmapper simply mine Craigslist data and repackage it, the argument is that they are infringing on Craigslist's copyright.
Still, even if Craigslist has a valid copyright over its ads, scraping companies may be able to argue that they are creating a new, derivative work of Craigslist's data. For example, putting Craigslist apartment ads on a map is different than simply reposting an ad onto your own website, and Padmapper may be able to convince a judge that it created a brand new work as a result.
Given Craigslist's resources, it's seems unlikely that a company like Padmapper will fight out the lawsuit. Copyright and intellectual property issues can be extremely complex and time-consuming, and a small company will not want to sink all of its resources in a possibly losing battle.
- Craigslist sues site that makes its apartment listings easier to find (Updated) (ARS Technica)
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