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Craigslist begins embedding maps in real estate listings

New feature emerges a month after the popular classified ads site sued PadMapper for harvesting its data for a mapping service.

A map at the bottom of a Craigslist ad shows the location of a "spacious" townhouse in San Francisco's South of Market district.
Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Not long after Craigslist cut off a mapping app that tapped its housing data, the popular online bulletin board has quietly begun embedding maps in certain real estate listings.

The maps, which appear on housing ads in the San Francisco Bay Area and Portland, Ore., harness data from OpenStreetMap, a service that offers free maps of the world compiled and edited by volunteers.

The new feature emerges a little more than a month after Craigslist sued PadMapper, an apartment listings aggregator that collects listings from Craigslist and other services and displays them on a Google map. Craigslist, which has become a popular portal for apartment ads, sued PadMapper and the data harvester it uses -- 3taps -- on copyright infringement grounds.

The battle began in June when Craigslist sent PadMapper a cease-and-desist letter that claimed the app violated its terms of use, which prohibit "copying, aggregation, display, distribution, performance, or derivative use of Craigslist or any content posted on Craigslist."

For a short while PadMapper took Craigslist data off its site. But in July, PadMapper said it would resume using the data after it discovered a workaround that creator Eric DeMenthon described as "somewhat dickish" but "legally kosher."

The solution was provided by 3taps, which created an API that harvests data from Craigslist postings by "indirect means," meaning they aren't subject to the Internet bulletin board's terms of use.

Craigslist responded with a lawsuit filed in San Francisco's federal court, accusing the two companies of "unlawfully and unabashedly mass-harvesting and redistributing postings entrusted by Craigslist users to their local Craigslist sites."

CNET has contacted Craigslist for comment and will update this report when we learn more.