Craigslist backs off on exclusive rights to user posts

Craigslist may be tiring of its recent role as Villain of the Valley. This week it dialed back a controversial term of service that gave it exclusive rights to the classified ads posted by users.

As reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Craigslist is no longer requiring users to give it permission to bring lawsuits against other sites that reproduce users’ ads.

The once-popular Craigslist has come under withering criticism by Silicon Valley in recent weeks for its decision to sue apartment site PadMapper and to threaten other sites that are using its listings. The critics complain that upstart sites like PadMapper offer useful new services and user-friendly designs while Craigslist’s own design is out-dated and unwieldy.

Craigslist’s decision to give up its exclusive license demands may be a tactical move rather than a change of heart. As we’ve explained before, its exclusive license claims appeared to be unenforceable in the first place.

Meanwhile, Craigslist has given no indication that it will stop its campaign against rivals or backtrack on its decision to remove its listings from search engines. At the same time, the “moderation” section of its terms of service are now jammed with terms that appear aimed at other sites:

CL has the right .. to regulate content … including but not limited to automated and manual screening, blocking, filtering, exclusion from index pages, exclusion from search results, requiring the use of an application programming interface (API), requiring the use of a bulk posting interface, authorization, verification, and the deletion and/or termination of content, accounts and/or all or any use or access)

(Image by Andy Dean photography via Shutterstock)