Craigslist Inc., v. 3Taps Inc. et al., No. CV 12-03816 CRB, is an action brought by Craigslist alleging that its competitors 3Taps, Padmapper, Inc., and Discover Home Network, Inc., improperly harvested and reproduced contents of Craigslist’s website. While Craigslist allows users to submit and browse classified advertisements, the defendant competitors aggregated and republished certain Craiglist ads without permission. On April 29, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Charles R. Breyer (Northern District of California) granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss in part, throwing out a subset of the copyright claims brought by Craigslist.
To satisfy the first element of copyright infringement, Craigslist must prove that they had ownership of a valid copyright. To do so, they must first show that the compilation of posts and the posts themselves are sufficiently original to warrant copyright protection. As Craigslist users create unique advertisements with titles, descriptions and other details, the individual posts are sufficiently original to be copyrightable. This is also true with respect to the compilation of posts, which are grouped by geographic area and product/service type.
Copyright holders of works created by others should be aware that in order to sue for infringement of such works, they must own an exclusive right to the work. The transfer of an exclusive license, while not requiring any magic words, must be in writing and demonstrate an intent to transfer an exclusive right.