Craigslist silently includes exclusive license for content in wake of fighting Padmapper and 3taps

Well, this is one way to defend against third party services scraping Craigslist’s data. Jonathan Berger, founder of Google-acquired Katango, has noticed that an exclusive license condition has now been included in the posting page before publishing to Craigslist post Padmapper fiasco. The license will grant Craigslist the right to own and do as it please with all published content on Craigslist.

The license terms, which sits above the “Continue” button on the posting page, reads:

“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 exclusive license

Craigslist has been publicly fending off Padmapper and 3taps with cease and desist letters, assuring its users on Quora that the legal action had been motivated by the fact that Craigslist’s servers would be heavily strained by these third party services accessing its data.

But with the recognizable terms of use set in place, Craigslist has all but admitted to the obvious threat at hand from third party services. Craigslist hasn’t offered its data API for a reason, and now the listing service hopes that this outlined legal technicality will prevent future companies from scraping its data.

Craigslist’s Terms of Use, last updated on Febuary 14, 2012, had also included a semblance of an exclusive license that included a clause giving Craigslist the right to a worldwide license of its user-submitted content. This license stated Craigslist would have the power to “prohibit and enforce against any unauthorized copying, performance, display, distribution, use or exploitation of, or creation of derivative works from, any content that you post (including but not limited to any unauthorized downloading, extraction, harvesting, collection or aggregation of content that you post).” What you also may have noticed in the lexicon, within the parenthesis, is the clause that prevents its users from “scraping” and reusing existing data — also known as the very issue Craigslist is fighting against Padmapper and 3taps.

But why should Craigslist users be wary of using a service that asks for an exclusive license for their content? Katango compared Craigslist’s license to the licenses of other well-known Web services, including Yelp, Facebook, and Google to highlight the overarching difference between Craigslist and everyone else. Yelp, Facebook and Google’s terms and conditions grant these services “non-exclusive” or a “worldwide” license. In other words, any job or spare room posting to Craigslist cannot be legally republished, copied or distributed without the explicit consent of Craigslist. Of course, it’s unlikely that the company will chase after every uses for republishing content. Instead, it’s the companies that have built itself around Craigslist’s data that have to lawyer up.