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PadMapper finds 'legally kosher' workaround for Craigslist ads

Apartment listings aggregator resumes displaying listings after getting a cease-and-desist letter from the online bulletin board.

PadMapper in action.
Screenshot by Nicole Cozma

An apartment listing aggregator says it has found a "legally kosher" way to circumvent a Craigslist ban on displaying its listings.

PadMapper collects all listings around a specific city or ZIP code from Craigslist and other services and displays them on a Google map, allowing users to search by area, apartment size, and rental price. However, that arrangement didn't sit well with Craigslist, which last month sent PadMapper creator Eric DeMenthon a cease-and-desist letter that claimed the app violated its terms of use.

Craigslist, which has become a popular portal for apartment ads, prohibits "copying, aggregation, display, distribution, performance, or derivative use of Craigslist or any content posted on Craigslist."

That presented something of a challenge for DeMenthon.

"I've been wrestling with whether to bring back Craigslist listings in the search results," DeMenthon said today in a blog post. "I've found a way to include them that I'm told is legally kosher since it doesn't touch their servers at all, but it still seems somewhat dickish to go against their wishes in this."

The solution was provided by 3taps, which has 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, DeMenthon said.

"It's not nice of me to do from Craigslist's perspective, and I'd really love to just work with them to solve these problems, but my conscience is clear," DeMenthon said. "I'm still going to send all traffic back to them and all that jazz."

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