The purpose of a classified ad is to reach the largest audience possible, casting the largest net, if you will. After all, whether you’re selling a car, renting a home or advertising a service for hire, the goal of the classified ad is to make sure that a large number of people see that ad
So, why would anyone want to hinder the ability to reach the largest audience? Through a lawsuit, that’s exactly what craigslist was trying to do by arguing that it held copyright on the user-posted ads that appear on its sites. But, earlier this month, a judge ruled against the large classified site, noting that the site itself – craigslist, in this case – does not hold copyright over an ad unless it’s granted exclusive rights to it.
Call it a victory for the “scrapers” in that the courts have defended the ability to take an ad from one site and repurpose it on another. As a site owner, I’m definitely not advocating the idea that a new site could steal ads from Geebo and make a profit from it. But I also understand the importance of large net.
By law, scraping may be allowed – but I think of it as the lazy approach. At Geebo, we take pride in our syndication efforts. We create solid business relationships with other sites to maximize the exposure for the people who have something to advertise. Geebo has relationships with real estate sites and car buying sites, for example, to not only put Geebo’s ads into bigger nets but also to put other ads in front of Geebo visitors.
For us, syndicating content is good business. We’re open and upfront about it, making sure our customers know what we’re doing and why. To us, scraping content is not a good business practice, despite the widespread practice. It’s a free ride on the sweat of someone else’s work. Still, the court was right in noting that the ad itself does not belong to the site publisher but instead to the user.
We know that publishers are constantly looking to harvest Geebo’s content. But instead of blocking them, we reach out directly and try to establish a bona fide partnership that includes cost-per-click/lead pricing, something that’s fair to both parties.
Bottom line: The content is out there for the taking. But site publishers can either attempt to block the practice of scraping the way craigslist did or they can embrace it as a new business opportunity, the way Geebo has.
The courts have spoken, leaving the ball back in our courts so that we can embrace the best business practices. The goal is to make sure the user – whether someone looking to buy or sell – has the best experience.
That’s good business.