Canadian Real Estate Site Wants To Remain Unusable; Threatens Those Who Improve It

from the this-again? dept

In the past, we've written about various organizations who break out the lawyers immediately when someone else makes their own poorly designed sites work better. This has happened with sites like the Ellis Island site and a movie theater chain in the UK. In both cases, some folks who got fed up with the poorly designed official site stepped up and created a better interface to the data hidden within. That same situation appears to be happening in Canada. Joe writes in to let us know that the Multiple Listing Service in Canada (which is basically the core database listing homes for sale) has a poorly designed website. Some enterprising individuals in Toronto made a much nicer interface, creating a mashup that pulled in other data (such as Google maps info). Rather than, say, recognize how useful the better interface was and talk to the developers about how MLS could use that work themselves, it sent a cease and desist, forcing the site to shut down. The site's creators were doing this as a hobby to improve the usefulness of MLS's data. And now it's gone. That's no way to run a business.
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Filed Under: canada, cease and desist, interface, mls
Companies: multiple listing service

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  1. identicon
    Tyler Durden, 20 Jun 2008 @ 2:57pm

    Only part of the story...

    What many "doing you a favor by redesigning your content" sites are actually doing is stealing your content and wrapping it in their profit model of sponsorship, lead generation and click through ads. For example, do a search on Yahoo for a college you know by name. One of those links will be "Sponsored by Yahoo". That means someone is paying to have that ad placed there. It will say something like "Earn a Degree" at and the name of the college you submitted. It will purport to provide you information about that college and will sometimes gather knowledge from webpages to accomplish this. It will even give you a Google Map, population stats, enrollment numbers and Wikipedia references in some cases. Anything out there freely on the web.

    Now click the "Get more Information about this college" link. You can enter in your name and degree goals and e-mail and contact information. Will you get more information about this college when you click submit? Nope. Will that college ever receive your inquiry for more information? Nope. In fact, your contact information will be considered a lead and sold to a for profit college that pays upwards of 45.00 per lead (i.e. University of Phoenix, Kaplan University, American InterContinental University, ITT Tech, etc.) Within an hour you'll have 2 or 3 SPAM e-mails claiming you subscribed, cause the college sending them doesn't know you wanted info about some other college you searched for. And that lead generator who "borrowed" the content and "made it better," really only fraudulently got paid for your information. It's in the same arena as phishing.

    Protecting content is much more important than design, and I design for a living. Trust me, if I want you to use my content, we'll have a contract. I wouldn't be surprised if they were taking the MLS listing, a proprietary service, and when a user clicked to get more information it took them to a very specific Real Estate Agent from which the "goodly hearted" designers were getting paid.

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