3Taps & Craigslist, Can Facts Be Copyrighted?

On my 6:30am elliptical adventure this morning I queued up another episode of This Week In Startups.    This time it was a recent interview with Greg Kidd, founder of 3Taps, the public data API behind sites like Padmapper, which have come under fire from craigslist in recent weeks.  Can statistics and facts be copyrighted?  According to a unanimous decision by the US supreme court in Feist v. Rural (1991), facts and statistics (in this case phone books) cannot be “copyrighted”.  Essentially, 3Taps is indexing the same craigslist data that Google does, structuring it, then providing API access for developers to build to their heart’s content. Whichever way the courts rule on this case will have a major impact on the future of digital communications. However, it sounds like it could be quite a while before this is all resolved.

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