Mike Isaac

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Twitter Settles Firehose Access Dispute With PeopleBrowsr


Twitter and PeopleBrowsr have settled ongoing litigation between the two companies as of Thursday, effectively ending a long-standing agreement which gave PeopleBrowsr direct, unfettered access to Twitter’s rich stream of constantly flowing data.

The settlement came after a battle between the two that spanned the past six months, which started when Twitter tried to end a six-year-long partnership between the two companies.

“We’re pleased to have this matter dismissed with prejudice, and look forward to PeopleBrowsr’s transition by the end of the year off of the Firehose to join the ecosystem of developers utilizing Twitter data via our reseller partnerships,” a Twitter spokesperson told AllThingsD.

This is all really nerdy and complicated, so bear with me while I flesh it out. PeopleBrowsr had access to the Twitter Firehose — or the entirety of all the tweets that are passing through the company’s pipes on a second-by-second basis — since the early days of Twitter, and thus PeopleBrowsr built its social insights company up around deep analysis of Twitter data (as well as data from other social sources such as Facebook).

When Twitter decided to end things last year, PeopleBrowsr protested, saying cutting off direct access to Twitter data could seriously cripple PeopleBrowsr’s business. There was a back and forth, and the case moved around between state and Federal courts for a hot minute. Ultimately, as we see today, the two companies have decided to settle the case.

Under the terms of the agreement, PeopleBrowsr will continue to have direct Firehose access until the end of 2013. From there, PeopleBrowsr will transition over to working with another one of Twitter’s Certified Partner data resellers — such as Gnip or DataSift — to purchase access to Twitter data through one of them, a third party, instead of through the Twitter Firehose directly. (Which is sort of strange, considering such an arrangement was something PeopleBrowsr protested heavily during pre-trial arguments.)

PeopleBrowsr plans to post a blog entry announcing the settlement later this afternoon.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik