Late last month, the popular apartment hunting website padmapper.com, which visually maps available apartment listings from various websites’ classified ads to make the stressful process of finding an apartment a little easier, received a cease and desist letter from craigslist.com. The letter claimed that Padmapper was violating Craigslist’s terms of service. Padmapper quickly removed the Craigslist listings from its website, significantly reducing the number of apartments that appear to its users.
On July 9, Padmapper’s CEO posted a blog entry indicating that he plans to bring the Craigslist listings back despite the cease and desist letter. Padmapper intends to use a service called 3taps that accesses Craigslist’s search results through “indirect means” without accessing Craigslist’s servers, and therefore, supposedly, is not subject to the classifieds website’s terms of service. This process seems somewhat fishy, but whether Craigslist has any right to control another’s use of the of content on its website is debatable, as such content is not likely covered by copyright and, therefore, Craigslist’s attempt to use contract to control such use might be preempted by federal copyright law. It will be interesting to see how Craigslist reacts to Padmapper’s decision to bring the apartment listings back.