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Craigslist Inc. v. 3Taps Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

August 16, 2013

CRAIGSLIST INC., Plaintiff,
v.
3TAPS INC. ET AL., Defendants

Page 1179

For Craigslist, Inc, a Delaware corporation, Plaintiff: Bobbie Jean Wilson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Geraldine Mary Daly Alexis, Jason A. Yurasek, Perkins Coie, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Christopher Kao, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Patrick Hennessy, James Patrick Corrigan, Perkins Coie, LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Shylah R. Alfonso, PRO HAC VICE, Perkins Coie LLP, Seattle, WA.

For 3Taps, Inc, a Delaware corporation, Defendant, Counter-claimant: Allen Ruby, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jack Patrick DiCanio, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Abraham A. Tabaie, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom LLP, Los Angeles, CA; James A. Keyte, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meacher & Flom LLP, New York, NY; Marissa E Troiano, Michael Menitove, PRO HAC VICE, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP, New York, NY.

For Padmapper, Inc., a Delaware corporation, Defendant, Counter-claimant: Venkat Balasubramani, LEAD ATTORNEY, Focal PLLC, Seattle, WA.

For Discover Home Network, Inc., a Delaware Corporation doing business as Lovely, Defendant: Allen Ruby, Jack Patrick DiCanio, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Abraham A. Tabaie, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom LLP, Los Angeles, CA; James A. Keyte, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meacher & Flom LLP, New York, NY; Marissa E Troiano, Michael Menitove, PRO HAC VICE, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP, New York, NY.

For Electronic Frontier Foundation, Amicus: Hanni Meena Fakhoury, LEAD ATTORNEY, Electronic Frontier Foundation, San Francisco, CA.

For Craigslist, Inc, a Delaware corporation, Counter-defendant: Bobbie Jean Wilson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Geraldine Mary Daly Alexis, Perkins Coie, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Christopher Kao, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Patrick Hennessy, James Patrick Corrigan, Perkins Coie, LLP, Palo Alto, CA.

For Craigslist, Inc, a Delaware corporation, Counter-defendant: Bobbie Jean Wilson, LEAD ATTORNEY, Geraldine Mary Daly Alexis, Jason A. Yurasek, Perkins Coie, LLP, San Francisco, CA; Christopher Kao, LEAD ATTORNEY, Brian Patrick Hennessy, James Patrick Corrigan, Perkins Coie, LLP, Palo Alto, CA.

For 3Taps, Inc, a Delaware corporation, Counter-claimant: Allen Ruby, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jack Patrick DiCanio, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, LLP, Palo Alto, CA; Abraham A. Tabaie, Skadden Arps Slate Meagher and Flom LLP, Los Angeles, CA; James A. Keyte, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meacher & Flom LLP, New York, NY; Marissa E Troiano, Michael Menitove, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, LLP, New York, NY.

OPINION

CHARLES R. BREYER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

Page 1180

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS CAUSES OF ACTION 13 AND 14 IN PLAINTIFF'S FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT

Defendant 3taps, Inc. (" 3Taps" ) has moved to dismiss Plaintiff craigslist, Inc.'s (" Craigslist" ) claims under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) and its state-law counterpart, California Penal Code section 502. The CFAA imposes civil and criminal liability on " whoever . . . intentionally accesses a computer without authorization . . . and thereby obtains . . . information from any protected computer." 18 U.S.C. § 1030(a)(2)(C).

The dispute here is limited to whether 3Taps accessed Craigslist's computers " without authorization." 3Taps asks this Court to hold that an owner of a publicly accessible website has no power to revoke the authorization of a specific user to access that website. However compelling 3Taps' policy arguments, this Court cannot graft an exception on to the statute with no basis in the law's language or this circuit's interpretive precedent. Accordingly, the Court DENIES 3Taps' motion.

I. BACKGROUND

Craigslist operates a well-known and widely-used website that allows users to submit and browse classified advertisements. First Am. Compl. (dkt. 35) ¶ ¶ 1, 25, 28-34. According to the First Amended Complaint (" FAC" ), " [m]ore than 60 million Americans visit craigslist each month, and they collectively post several hundred million classified ads each year." Id. ¶ 25. Craigslist's service is organized by geographic area, and within each given area by types of products and services. Id. ¶ 29. Craigslist provides ancillary features, such as anonymous email forwarding, to support its classified ad service. E.g., id. ¶ 34.

Defendant 3Taps aggregates and republishes ads from Craigslist. Id. ¶ ¶ 63, 65, 99, 104, 112. Craigslist alleges that 3Taps copies (or " scrapes" ) all content posted to Craigslist in real time, directly from the Craigslist website. Id. ¶ ¶ 3, 78-80. 3Taps markets a " Craigslist API" [1] to allow third parties to access large amounts of content from Craigslist, id. ¶ ¶ 3, 5, 64, and also operates the website craiggers.com, which " essentially replicated the entire craigslist website," id. ¶ 65, including " all of craigslist's posts," id. ¶ 68.

After learning about 3Taps' scraping activities, Craigslist took two relevant steps to stop it. First, it sent a cease and desist letter to 3Taps, informing it that " [t]his letter notifies you that you and your agents, employees, affiliates, and/or anyone

Page 1181

acting on your behalf are no longer authorized to access, and are prohibited from accessing craigslist's website or services for any reason." FAC ¶ 132; Hennessy Letter, Kao Decl. Ex. A (dkt. 60-2) at 3. Second, Craigslist configured its website to block access from IP addresses [2] associated with 3Taps. FAC ¶ ¶ 80-81. 3Taps bypassed that technological barrier by using different IP addresses and proxy servers to conceal its identity, and continued scraping data. FAC ¶ ¶ 82-84.

Craigslist sued 3Taps (and other defendants not relevant to this motion), alleging in relevant part that 3Taps' scraping activities violated the CFAA and its state-law analogue, Cal. Penal Code ยง 502. 3Taps moved to dismiss those claims, and this Court concluded that Craigslist's allegations that 3Taps ignored the cease-and-desist letter and ...


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