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Craigslist Lawsuits

by Colin Rule
October 2011

From Colin Rule's blog NovoJustice

Colin Rule

Mike Masnick on TechDirt:

“What I hadn’t realized was that Craigslist had actually filed a bunch of similar, equally questionable, lawsuits against others. One of those others is a guy named Paul Hubert, who wrote some software that made it easier to manage your Craigslist postings. We’ve been in touch with Mr. Hubert… who did not find out that he was being sued at all, until months after the court already ruled in a default judgment against him. Default judgments happen when someone doesn’t respond, but if you’re never informed of the lawsuit, it’s pretty difficult to respond at all. Hubert insists that he was never served, and the first he heard of the lawsuit was a couple months after the default judgment (for over $1.2 million) when someone tried to collect it from him.

Hubert makes it clear that his software was designed for legitimate uses of Craigslist, for those who needed better management tools. In fact, he makes it clear that he left out and/or disabled certain features if he realized they might be attractive to spammers. For example, after noticing that the Craigslist Personals section was hit with a lot of spam, and realizing that such a category probably wouldn’t need such a management system, he blocked the software from posting to that category. Hubert claims that in 2007 Craig Newmark himself reached out to Hubert to ask for some details about the software. Hubert says that the emails were "encouraging" and never once did Newmark suggest any concerns or problems with the software, let alone ask Hubert to stop offering it. Hubert also notes that after running into more issues with spammers trying to use his software, he shut down the whole thing at the end of 2008.

Hubert, who is unemployed, is reasonably perplexed and upset about the whole thing. He never knew about the lawsuit, was never asked to stop offering his software (which he did anyway), and is now being told he has to pay $1.2 million which he doesn’t have. He claims that the lawyer trying to collect the money has told him that Craigslist wants to "make an example" of him.

I’m greatly troubled by Craigslist’s actions here.”

Biography


Colin Rule has worked at the intersection of technology and conflict resolution for the last two decades. He is CEO of Modria.com, an online dispute resolution service provider in Silicon Valley, and a non-resident Fellow at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School. From 2003 to 2011, he served as eBay and PayPal's first director of Online Dispute Resolution, designing and implementing systems that now resolve more than 60 million disputes each year. Mr. Rule is the author of Online Dispute Resolution for Business, published by Jossey-Bass in September 2002. He has presented and trained around the world for organizations including the U.S. Department of State, UNCITRAL, the International Chamber of Commerce, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution, as well as teaching at UMass-Amherst, Stanford, Southern Methodist University, and Hastings College of the Law. He has written and been interviewed extensively about the Internet since 1999, with columns and articles appearing in ACResolution, Consensus, Dispute Resolution Magazine, and Peace Review. He holds a master's degree from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in conflict resolution and technology, a B.A. in peace studies from Haverford College, and he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Eritrea from 1995-1997.



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Website: www.modria.com

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