from the that's-not-how-it-works dept
AOL, however, has sent a cease-and-desist:
“[Y]our company’s People+ product in essence has made wholesale use of CrunchBase content to simply replicate what CrunchBase does,” wrote Grossman in another letter to the startup. The app, Grossman adds, “duplicates what CrunchBase offers in order to compete directly with us.”Except, of course, that's entirely allowed under the license in question. So AOL is simply wrong here. Amusingly, AOL is trying to get around its blatant wrongness from a different direction, claiming that the scraping of the data abused the terms of their API that makes the use of the data improper:
That’s because Pro Populi downloaded the database through the CrunchBase API, a digital interface that allows anyone access to the data. Buried in the terms-of-service for the CrunchBase API is this caveat: AOL “reserves the right to continually review and evaluate all uses of the API, including those that appear more competitive than complementary in nature.” And AOL “reserves the right in its sole discretion (for any reason or for no reason) and at anytime without notice to You to ... terminate your rights” to use “any CrunchBase content.”That clause is completely bogus. AOL can decide to forbid someone from using the API if they feel it violates their terms, but they cannot "terminate" the license to use the content. The content is free to use under the license, and there's nothing AOL can legally do about it -- other than lie and be a bully, which appears to be the choice the company has made. Thankfully, EFF is now representing Pro Populi and has sent a detailed letter explaining all of this to AOL. Hopefully, next time, their lawyers will actually understand their own licenses before misrepresenting them in bogus threat letters.