Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

3Taps Countersues Craigslist for Anticompetitive Business Practices

3Taps today filed a response to the copyright infringement lawsuit Craigslist filed in July against 3Taps’ data supply business and one of its customers, the apartment rental site PadMapper.

In the filing, 3Taps argues that online classifieds are simply facts, and Craigslist’s continued refusal to let others syndicate its ads and improve on their user interface is anticompetitive.

The filing alleges a pattern of “sham cease & desist letters and sham lawsuits,” copyright misuse, overly restrictive terms of use, and hiding posts from third-party sites.

“Craigslist has an overwhelming share in numerous online classified ad markets and improperly maintains those monopoly shares through a broad-based, anticompetitive scheme,” 3Taps alleges.

3taps is trying to use the media to its advantage, having contacted me and other reporters last week about its plans to countersue, and emailing the countersuit now at the same time it was electronically filed at the Federal District Court for Northern California. This is the opposite strategy of Craigslist, which has not deigned to acknowledge the disagreement with even a simple “no comment.”

While Craigslist has issued other cease-and-desist letters before to sites that do things like display postings on a map, this seems to be the first time a developer has fought back in a serious way.

3Taps CEO Greg Kidd has been raring to fight Craigslist, saying the for-profit site is acting like a copyright troll while benefiting from its friendly image of being a public service.

Other developers aren’t willing to put their names on the lawsuit, but at least one told me he is grateful that Kidd is bankrolling the services of top law firm Skadden, which is representing 3Taps in the dispute along with intellectual property lawyers from the firm Locke Lord. (Kidd had previously told AllThingsD he was using Morrison Foerster, but that has since changed.)

3Taps compares itself to ITA, the airfare search provider that Google bought, and services like PadMapper to Kayak, which provides a search interface based on ITA data that many users prefer. PadMapper and other sites like it send traffic back to Craigslist but give individual posters broader distribution for their classified ads.

PadMapper developer Eric DeMenthon said he had no update to share at this time on his own response to the Craigslist lawsuit.

And of course, Craigslist did not respond to a request for comment.

Here’s the countersuit:

3taps Answer

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work