Craigslist Disputes “Fair” Housing Lawsuit
Free classified ads not working well for newspapers
Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Inc. v. Craigslist, Inc. [pdf]
Stanford Law Review: In Search of Fair Housing In Cyberspace: The Implications of the Communications Decency Act for Fair Housing on the Internet [Word]
Stanford Center for Internet and Society [pdf]
Over the past few weeks, a number of groups have seen fit to enter a growing debate that involves questions regarding potential online discrimination, cyberlaw, and the financial future of traditional newspapers. Much of the debate stems from a lawsuit filed against Craigslist.org by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which claims the well-known online commons has published a number of discriminatory advertisements, particularly in the area of their housing listings. The Lawyers’ Committee drew attention to a number of these listings, including ones that contained language such as “No kids allowed” and “African-Americans and Arabians tend to clash with me”. Specifically, the Committee is claiming that these postings are in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, a point that is being contested by a number of persons, most notably Jim Buckmaster, the chief executive of Craigslist. As advertisements that contain such language are illegal in newspapers and other publications, the Lawyers’ Committee says they should be banned online in their entirety. Buckmaster has replied to these remarks by stating that, “Craigslist is absolutely a different animal. It’s a user-controlled commons where users submit, at this point, eight million ads of unlimited length. So when the lawyers group says they want Craigslist treated exactly as if it were a newspaper, on the fact of it, that doesn’t make any sense.” Finally, the case is of great interest to numerous newspaper executives, as many of them have expressed concern about their declining classified ad revenues, a problem that continues to deepen, particularly in large media markets.
The first link will take users to a recent article from The New York Times that offers some additional background material on the recent complaint filed against Craigstlist. The second link leads to the official response offered by Craigslist on their website. The third link whisks users away to a recent posting from The Editors Weblog, a site dedicated to providing “editorial solutions for the newspaper renaissance”. The posting addresses how newspapers are attempting to regain some of their classified advertisements by offering certain advertisements for free. The fourth link leads to the official complaint filed by the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law against Craigslist. The fifth link leads to an article from the December 2002 Stanford Law Review, authored by Jennifer C. Chang, which discusses the potential ramifications of the Communications Decency Act for Fair Housing as it applies to online settings. The final link leads to the homepage of the Stanford Center for Internet and Society. Here visitors can peruse a number of fine articles on a host of related topics, and also learn about their innovative cyberlaw clinic.