Uber classifieds site craiglist has requested that Oodle, a classifieds 'meta' search engine, refrain from scraping its content. This has the potential to be the first high-profile case of a mash-up site being slapped for taking another site's content.
In a recent ZDNet post, I wrote that the business models for Web 2.0 mash-ups are beginning to ramp up. Some of the revenue possibilities for sites like Oodle are advertising, lead generation and/or affiliates, transactional, subscription.
Oodle wrote on their blog that they send craigslist "free traffic" and they "don't compete with them by taking listings." John Battelle said that craigslist's response to Oodle "feels counter to the vibe craigslist has always had".
However Jason Calacanis summed up the counter argument with this response in Battelle's comments:
"Fair use is one thing, wholesale scraping/syndication is another. Oodle, Indeed, etc. should a) get permission and b) consider paying Craig a licensing fee for his content."
For more context, this is how the Oodle FAQ describes what Oodle does:
"How do I place a classified listing on Oodle?
Oodle doesn't directly accept classified listings. As a search engine for local listings, we regularly scan hundreds of online sources for classifieds like local newspapers and eBay. To have your listing show up in Oodle, just place your listing with a local classified provider and we'll find it."
It's a difficult issue and I don't have an easy answer with which to finish my post. On the one hand, craigslist is the source of some of Oodle's data and so craigslist has a right to protect that from mis-use. On the other hand, Oodle is clearly providing value to users on the UI side - which is one of the things Web 2.0 and mash-ups is about. It would be best for all concerned if craigslist and Oodle made an agreement with each other, for the benefit of all users. And it would be fair for Oodle to share some of their revenue with craigslist. This is all easier said than done, of course. It's an interesting test case.