Wednesday, May 29, 2013

CraigsList Lawsuit against 3Taps and Padmapper; trespass to chattels.


Last year CraigsList sued 3Taps and Padmapper  to ensure that it is not deintermediated by these two aggregators. The court has since maintained the suit despite legal challenge, on grounds of trespass to chattels.  It is important to bear in mind that this was rejected in California's decision in Intel Corp v. Hamidi. Internet is largely dependent on use of many computers and the trespass to chattels argument is a very dangerous one.

This is what Justice Charles Breyer had to say:

"Craigslist specifically denied authorization to use the website 'for any purposes' in its cease and desist letters and also used technological measures to block access from IP addresses associated with 3Taps, which Craigslist alleges that 3Taps bypassed by using different IP addresses and proxy servers to conceal its identity.... Defendants’ continued use of Craigslist after the clear statements regarding authorization in the cease and desist letters and the technological measures to block them constitutes unauthorized access under the statute."
 In the said ruling, Justice Breyer also allowed breach of contract and violation of trademarks claims as well.

What does this mean for internet and internet freedom? Nothing good I am afraid. After this shall be the deluge of similar litigation.

To be fair however to CraigsList, it was Ebay which had started this whole business with its famous case from 2000.  The ratio of Ebay v. Bidder's Edge ensured the application of the trespass to chattels theory to internet.

13 years later, Ebay's competitor Craigslist has succeeded on this very point.

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