Craigslist blocks one-man apartment-search startup PadMapper

[ Updated 10:26 PM with a comment from DeMenthon ]

Popular online classifieds service Craigslist has blocked apartment-finding site PadMapper. PadMapper Chief executive Eric DeMenthon said today on the PadMapper blog that all Craiglist-sourced rentals are being deleted from the PadMapper database.

PadMapper is an apartment rental search engine that displays available “pads” on a live Google map background (as shown in the screenshot to the right). The site pulls its listings from sources such as Apartments.com, Rent.com, and, until recently, Craigslist.

PadMapper screenshotBut the site has fallen afoul of the Craigslist terms of service, which do not allow “copying, aggregation, display, distribution, performance or derivative use of craigslist or any content posted on craigslist.” Any service that provides access to Craigslist content without permission is prohibited.

As DeMenthon mentions in his blog post, Craigslist allows “mobile apps to display their listings if you buy a license from them, but not websites.”

DeMenthon believes that PadMapper’s use of data was good for users, but he wasn’t able to make that case to Craigslist founder Craig Newmark or CEO Jim Buckmaster. PadMapper received a cease and desist letter from a Craigslist lawyer, and it has been forced to comply.

For DeMenthon, who is the entire team behind PadMapper, this is a tough blow. The reality is that PadMapper is in violation of Craigslist terms of service, so he doesn’t have much recourse. The site is not the first to be shut down by Craigslist lawyers; both the aggregator Craiglook and vertical search engine Oodle are among the sites that have previously incurred their wrath.

There are other sources of apartment listings, and PadMapper will be pursuing those, according to the blog post. DeMenthon invited users of the service to make their feelings known to Craiglist but has asked them to “keep it civil.”

“Perhaps if they see how many people PadMapper has helped, they’ll be willing to consider changing their minds,” DeMenthon writes.

One would hope that as a community-minded site, Craigslist would at least take the time to meet with him and consider the possibility of working out a deal. However, it is of course the company’s prerogative to reject any content-sharing deal, as defined within their terms of service.

VentureBeat has reached out to both Craigslist and PadMapper for comment; we’ll update this post if we receive any news.

[ update ]

The early version of this story said that PadMapper does not appear to make money off the listings. DeMenthon clarified in an email to VentureBeat that the site does make some money “in some limited ways, just not in any way that makes the experience worse.”