Klein & Wilson

Craigslist's copyright lawsuit thrown out by judge

A copyright infringement lawsuit filed by Craigslist against 3Taps, Discover Home Network and PadMapper in a California federal court has been thrown out. The judge, however, will allow the online classified site to file suit against 3Taps for accessing data on its website without authorization.

The decision in the case states that Craigslist does not have an exclusive license and copyright to the content posted by users on its site. There was an exception and that was a two-week period last year when Craigslist had posted an amendment to its Terms of Use, which said it was the exclusive license holder. That amendment, though, was quickly dropped. Without having that exclusive license, the judge said Craigslist cannot sue the three startup companies for copyright infringement.

Even though the company could still be sued by Craigslist for unauthorized data use, 3Taps has declared the ruling a victory. A statement posted on 3 Taps' website criticized Craigslist for its “sham litigation,” saying the company has used copyright claims to threaten many companies.

A countersuit had been filed against Craigslist for unfair business practices, stating the company had violated antitrust laws at the state and federal levels. The countersuit claimed Craigslist has stifled innovation because it has so much market power. In doing so, it has also harmed consumers. The statement on 3Taps’ website also states that the data on Craigslist is publicly available because it was already listed by Google, and is not protected by copyright laws. 3Taps claims the lawsuits by Craigslist are nothing more than a way for the company to discourage and prevent competition and innovation.

Copyright and trademark issues are very complex; however, both are vital to the success of many businesses. An experienced business litigation attorney can help a company determine if copyright infringement or another similar issue has occurred and provide advice and representation in a civil case.

Source:  techcrunch.com, "Judge throws out Craigslists??? copyright lawsuit, but it can still sue 3Taps over data use" Catherine Shu, Apr. 30, 2013

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