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Craigslist Forced To Reveal a Seller's Identity 314

Posted by kdawson
from the limits-to-anonymity dept.
mi writes "The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts has won a judgment compelling Craigslist to reveal the identity of 'Daniel,' who tried to sell two tickets to the Oscar ceremony recently. The plaintiff's argument against such sales is scary and can be taken very far very quickly: 'If you don't know who's inside the theater, it's very difficult to provide security.' Craigslist's handling of the case may be even scarier, however — instead of fighting tooth-and-nail for the user's privacy, as we expect Google, Yahoo, and AOL, and even credit-card issuers to do, Craigslist simply did not show up in court and lost by default."
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Craigslist Forced To Reveal a Seller's Identity

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  • Hai Guise (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:21AM (#24336685)

    I got two oscar tickets. Anyone want em? Asking $600 OBO.

  • by halsver (885120) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:22AM (#24336701)

    Legal representation

  • by hansoloaf (668609) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `faolosnah'> on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:23AM (#24336709)
    they didn't post the hearing notice under rants and raves.
  • Maybe Craig was too busy responding to bots and picture collectors. Real results takes all day!

  • by gooseupfront (1120847) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:24AM (#24336739)
    Craigslist. Not only do you get a great deal on tickets, you get a great deal on a date to go with you!
  • by superdave80 (1226592) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:24AM (#24336743)
    If they want to know who is in the theater during the ceremony (for 'security' reasons... dun dun dun!), why do they even have physical tickets? Why not just a list of who can get in? Do the invitees REALLY have to show a ticket to get in? "Sorry, Mr. Cruise. No ticket, no entry!"
    • Damn. I just spent my last mod point. You're insightful and funny all at once.

      Even many factories have lists of valid guests. You don't just wave a piece of paper around and get in without being on a list.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Well to be fair I'm sure there are a lot of non-famous people that show up to an event like this: i.e. production crew, makeup and costume people, etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The tickets are for guests and for people like the writers who most people wouldn't recognize on sight. In any case, if they were worried about who was in the theater they could simply check the ticket to the invite list and to a photo ID. This sounds like a lousy public relations excuse for performing a shakedown. While Daniel shouldn't have sold or have planned to sell his ticket, it isn't as if he is going to suddenly let in Osama bin Laden who will commit a terrorist attack there. They do have metal

      • by torkus (1133985) on Friday July 25, 2008 @02:43PM (#24340227)

        Besides this, has anything illegal actually happened?

        They say 'our tickets can not be resold'. That's not a law, that's not a court order, that's not anything other than a company whining about someone doing something they don't like with a piece of paper they gave away or sold themselves.

        This isn't even software with a stupid license agreement. It's a physical ticket.

        Going further, one has to assume the 'seller' really does have the ticket and really will make a sale. Why do you think they wait on drug busts until AFTER an undercover has completed the purchase? Even if the sale were somehow illegal, it hasn't actually happened.

        All this in addition to their insane claims about 'security'. If it was so important they WOULD be checking ID.

    • by eebra82 (907996) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:43AM (#24337043) Homepage
      Using Tom Cruise as an example is a poor one. Of course the super celebrities get in without any hurdles. The people that are harder to keep track on is the people "behind the scenes". A lot of sound techies, video techies and crew are invited as well.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Danse (1026)

        Using Tom Cruise as an example is a poor one. Of course the super celebrities get in without any hurdles. The people that are harder to keep track on is the people "behind the scenes". A lot of sound techies, video techies and crew are invited as well.

        It's too much to ask for them to show an ID to be checked against the list?

    • by hedwards (940851)

      You're assuming that Mr. Cruise is invited. The way he's embarrassed the Academy in recent years, I'd be surprised if they'd want him to come.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheSeventh (824276)
      It's not like the tickets have peoples names on them. If 'Daniel' just gave the tickets away, how does this change the security?

      Can't anyone just give their tickets to someone else if they are unable to go?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:26PM (#24337835)

      I've gone to the Oscars.

      When you are invited, you get a packet of various tickets. The tickets could be parceled out from a production company which gets a lot of say, ten of them. Or if you are a nominee, you may be sent them directly via an agent or manager. In the packet of tickets-- one is for the ceremony, another for the "Governor's Ball" afterwards. The Kodak theater has three or four levels inside-- if you are a nominee you have access to the bottom "floor level" and without the appropriate pass you will be kindly asked to stay up top. You also, if I remember right, get some kind of parking ticket that you give when you turn in your car to the valet, or that your limo driver keeps if you've got one of those. I could be wrong about that last part- cant' remember.

      Here are some reasons for the tickets (and not a list): First of all, the list of attendees changes up to the last second. People are planning to go, then drop out, or have other people go in their place... it's a very fluid attendance list and I think it would be pretty difficult to keep it up to date. I'm thinking its much easier to let individuals deal with the politics of who's using the tickets than to try to centralize it. Plus, there would be people BSing to get their names added on the attendant list all over the place if it was as easy as calling in. Sure, tickets can be forged too, but I think they are individually numbered (?) and have glossy rainbow printing and stuff all over them...

      Also-- have you ever seen the red carpet? It's about the width of a city street. Fans on one side holding signs, and the press on the other holding cameras, both on bleachers. The red carpet is fast moving and chaotic. When you go to the oscars, you are part of a 45-minute flow of people who drop off their cars, head through a giant tent-like thing where they take your ticket, then you pass through one of about twelve metal detectors, then proceed through the red carpet. Among the actors and well-known celebrities are the majority-- these include more technical nominees (sound, sfx), producers, writers, etc. And most people-- celebrities and non- bring dates and family. It would be a real pain to ID every single person who passes through, and the flow of people would virtually grind to a halt...

      I suppose they COULD use a list.. but it would be just as much of a cluster fuck I think.

      Hope this helps...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by superdave80 (1226592)
        "The tickets could be parceled out from a production company which gets a lot of say, ten of them. " So they have no idea who is actually going to show up, thus negating their whole 'security' argument.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Original poster here. Nothing that I'm aware of would have stopped me from handing my ticket to a total stranger and letting them go instead. That said, it's not like they have NO IDEA who is actually going to show up. There is a lot of political wrangling before the event between various parties who want to get tickets. Academy members (who incidentally I didn't mention previously but typically with their families are the bulk of the audience), producers, agents-- lots of people want to go. So the tic

  • by Khashishi (775369) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:25AM (#24336751) Journal
    Does Daniel have any rights in this matter, or is this strictly between AMPA and craigslist?
    • by RingDev (879105)

      Even if you follow the plaintiff's argument, who cares who Daniel is? All that matters is who Daniel gives the tickets too.

      -Rick

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by AmberBlackCat (829689)
        Maybe they want to know who Daniel is so they know who not to give tickets to in the future.
        • So they're using the court system to figure out who to punish for doing something entirely legal?

          I could see it if Daniel was under contract for the tickets, but if they just give him tickets with no stipulations, why should they get to enjoy the power of the courts and tax payer funding?

          Wouldn't it have been cheaper just to buy the tickets off the guy, and as soon as you find out who is selling them, negate those tickets, then, as the buyer, refuse to pay for the now worthless tickets?

          Woh, no money, no law

  • by AbsoluteXyro (1048620) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:27AM (#24336775)
    Craigslist has to be about the seediest place to do business on the internet. Nothing about their service screams 'high quality,' much less 'we care.'
    • Yes, but.. (Score:4, Funny)

      by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:34AM (#24336905) Journal
      Craigslist might be seedy, but then again, everyone needs a dark alley to buy their fake gucci bags and knock-off soccer shirts. Ebay just doesn't cut it anymore...
    • by Otter (3800) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:34AM (#24336909) Journal
      Isn't Craigslist basically just Craig and a handful of other people? I wonder if they have a lawyer, or even someone there to accept the summons. Their financial dealings with EBay don't suggest massive legal support.
    • by mi (197448)

      I expected the "We do this for the common good" people to get the same earful for not defending their users from the American movie-people [wikipedia.org], as Yahoo! and Google (the "Do no evil" people) have gotten for yielding to Chinese government [hrw.org].

      Because to continue holding CraigsList in the same regard as before after this is quite hypocritical...

      • by EMeta (860558) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:40AM (#24337013)
        Here's the problem. Craig doesn't want a huge organization. He doesn't want ads. He just wants to live semi-comfortably and have a functional website so people can use it.

        Things this does not include:

        Ads.
        Huge profits.
        Legal division.

        Do we really want Craig to have to start putting ads everywhere so he can protect users that do stupid stuff? I don't.
        • by mi (197448)

          Legal division.

          They certainly have one.

          Do we really want Craig to have to start putting ads everywhere so he can protect users that do stupid stuff?

          The same argument can be used to defend Google and Yahoo! For example: do you really want us to put even more ads, so we can afford a private army to defend our data-centers in China?

          At least, Yahoo tried, and gave up only after exhausting all legal options. CraigsList did not even show up in court — much less filed an appeal!..

          • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

            Legal division.

            They certainly have one.

            Really? Is that why no one showed up for the hearing?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vellmont (569020)


      Craigslist has to be about the seediest place to do business on the internet.

      I suspect you haven't been around "the internet" very much. You're honestly trying to say craigslist is as seedy as illegal drug sellers, offshore quasi-legal casino's, websites selling pirated software, malware/adware "free" software sites, or any number of other seedy places I haven't listed?

      Craiglist is certainly no-frills, but it's not really that seedy. It's no more seedy than the local free newspaper. I've bought and sold

  • Normally I would completely agree that privacy must be protected wherever and whenever possible. Both my heart and my head tells me that privacy is an essential right.

    Having said that, could craigslist use a little bit of "cleanup" from the scam artists, vice decoy hookers (keep the real ones!), and other bad elements that are hiding behind the anonimity of CL as an essential part of their scam?

    I realize that the key word there is "bad"-- who is to judge what is 'bad' or 'good' except the other party in the transaction?

    I just wonder if CL purposefully ignored the court date in hopes of such a cleanup, or if they were simply too busy smoking some dope and selling some old furniture (both are fine hobbies to have) to remember to go downtown.

  • Damn it. (Score:4, Funny)

    by FlyingSquidStudios (1031284) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:34AM (#24336917) Homepage
    There goes my prostitution business.
  • by greymond (539980) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:43AM (#24337041) Homepage Journal

    More like CL didn't care. They didn't care enough to show up to court, so they didn't care enough to fight about it.

    The sad thing is, I'm not really surprised. They have warnings in their real estate section of housing wanted/for sale that states that if you post something like "Only Mexican People Can Buy/Live-in My House" you will get fined - so they must be down with sharing your info when asked for it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by infalliable (1239578)
      Only because it is blatantly illegal to do so, and they were taken to court on the issue.
  • morons or liars? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alien Being (18488)

    "...invitees to the Academy Awards show are explicitly told they cannot sell or give their tickets away."

    What does "explicitly told" mean? It doesn't sound like a binding contract. Why don't they issue tickets that say non-transferable right on them and require id at the door?

    "If you don't know who's inside the theater, it's very difficult to provide security," Quinto said.

    If you're too stupid to keep a list of the people you've invited, with their ticket numbers, then providing security will indeed be di

  • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:43AM (#24337049)

    If they're worried about who's in the theater, then it seems like they'd be more interested in the identity of those *buying* the tickets, no? Do they have prohibitions against giving the tickets away if you get them legitimately? Can I donate them to a charity auction, and do they send the Oscar Gestapo to the auction to fingerprint and photograph the winners at the charity auction?

    If not, then why is Craigslist such a security threat?

    • I'm thinking they were more worried {pissed off} about who was selling their free tickets. 'Security' being the code word for 'whom should we exclude next year, because we don't like scalpers.'

      You know .. similar to what the NFL did a year or so ago with the tickets they give players.

  • by faloi (738831) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:45AM (#24337071)
    "De-fault! Woohoo! The two sweetest words in the English language!"
  • by johnny cashed (590023) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:47AM (#24337139) Homepage
    http://www.craigslist.org/about/privacy.html [craigslist.org]

    And look at the terms of use, particularly item 2.

    Was Craigslist expected to not reveal the seller?
  • I can't say Craigslist has nearly the money Google, AOL, etc has to afford lawyers.

    This is certainly a crappy decision, but what could they have done being a relatively ad free company? I'm sure whatever revenue they do have go to salaries and server maintenance; I'd be surprised if they were very profitable at all - that's not the point of Craigslist. The rich guys won.
  • Seriously. Not that Craigslist was sued for this name, or that the awards organizers are so willing to co-opt "security" as their excuse for this action, but think about it... could CL have won?

    Here's a handy tip I've come up with to determine, in a business vs. business lawsuit, who will win: Who has the most money to spend on lawyers?

    If CL had attempted to fight the suit, with its meager resources, it would have lost. Then, the case may have stood as a precedent to future such cases.

    CL was smart,

  • of a corporation dragging you into court on bullshit pretenses

    given that thought, not showing up to court is really the only course of action you can take

    of course, there are also those who want to see someone else fight their battles. this is the only reason in which you yourself who do not respect the legal status quo can expect someone else to respect the legal status quo for you

    and to some extent, this is a valid attitude: if that someone else fighting for you is big and powerful while you are small and weak

    but as others have noted, craigslist really is just craig and a few dudes in san francisco. they may have the exposure of a large corporation, btu they aren't a large corporation. as such, they are in the boat with you and me: someone else needs to fight this battle, or craigslist, due to the legal environment of our modern times, needs to give in to reality and turn into a corporate turd pile and fund a bunch of corporate lawyer whores in order to retain its integrity in the face of such legal bullshit

    i dunno, i'm torn. i say fuck the courts on the issue of corporate chicanery, ignore them. but then they win by default in terms of enforceable rulings. such that you have to fund the legions of corporate lawyer whores

    or kill them all. hard to say

  • 'If you don't know who's inside the theater, it's very difficult to provide security.'

    Seems like a stupid statement at face value. But suing Craigslist for the identity of the seller won't even achieve the stated goal. If the seller sold the tickets, then he/she is not inside the theater, and thus they won't need security customized for his/her particular super-powers.

  • "Papers Please" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arthurpaliden (939626) on Friday July 25, 2008 @11:59AM (#24337359)

    You:But all I want to do is to see the movie.

    Clerk:Sorry Sir but we have to know who is in the theater. It is afterall for your own protection.

  • by GrifterCC (673360) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:04PM (#24337453)
    TFA does not say that craigslist turned over the guy's identity, just that they figured out who it was. Granted, AP articles sometimes read like they were written by a high-school journalism student, translated into Bantu, then back into English, but the omission seems glaring. Other TFAs on the same topic also do not actually say that craigslist turned the name over.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:09PM (#24337523) Homepage Journal

    'If you don't know who's inside the theater, it's very difficult to provide security.'

    Then require people to show ID. Try to do security like the rest of the world. If you can sell tickets and not know who is at the Oscars, then what stops some one from tying up ticket holder and taking their tickets to the Oscars?

    I'm simply do not understand what legal right one private organization has to enforce its policy on a completely unrelated organization?

  • Silly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sta7ic (819090) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:10PM (#24337547)

    This strikes me as the classic fallacy for suing online service providers, to challenge the messenger for the messages that they deliver. Craigslist is about as fast and lose as sites seem to come, and all that's needed is a legitimate email address to post ~ which costs about five cents and ten minutes to set up. The service has absolutely no guarantees of poster accuracy, honesty, or legitimacy ~ honestly, about on par with a web board. Keeping eBay and Amazon on their toes is valid, in my book, solely for the fact that their sites enable transactions, but beyond that, it's buyer beware.

    This lawsuit makes about as much sense as bringing the FTC in to a flea market. You can't impose any sorts of regulations without completely warping the existing system, in which case it's no longer a flea market.

  • Security has nothing to do with it. They just want to control who has access to the ceremony. "Knowing" who is there really has little to do with whether a place is secure, especially when there is no checks on who has access other than being "in the know" or "in the cool crowd."
  • by jdcope (932508) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:16PM (#24337671)
    How would craigslist know the seller's name? I sell stuff on there, and I have never put my name. And even if I did, Craigslist still would not know WHO I SOLD THEM TO. So this is just stupid all around. And besides, this isnt any different than if I were selling them on the street, the Oscar peeps wouldnt know the name of the buyer, they would never even know the sale happened. Bottom line is, its not about "security". They were suing other people for selling tickets back in March, and they are looking for more people to sue.
  • by penguin_dance (536599) on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:16PM (#24337673)

    It sounds like Craigslist didn't want to give up the name outright, but they didn't want to enough to spend money to defend it in court either. Sort of like waiting until you get a subpoena before giving it up and then it's "Oh well, nothing I could do--don't sue me."

    I wonder if the person in question knew about the lawsuit and, if so, could have sent his own representative.

    A bigger question I have with these increasing attacks on privacy: How long before we start getting fake ids to protect our privacy from companies who seem all too will to give us up. For example, I found out my credit card now offers a different CC# to use on line so you have some layer of protection between your actual number, identity, etc. Not sure on how well that works, except that it should stop someone who has the number from using at large. I suppose it's a bit like PayPal. Although that still wouldn't help you if the company contacted Visa, MC, etc. and were able to get your ID through them. It would have to be like an off-shore PayPal that could verify a purchase or whatever needed verification, but kept your ID safe from even the ISPs.

    How long before we need more layers of protection--where companies (and governments) can't just shut us down on a whim because we said something bad about them or sue us. Even if the individual is correct, very few people can afford to be sued by some company.

  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shadow Wrought (586631) * <shadow,wrought&gmail,com> on Friday July 25, 2008 @12:20PM (#24337737) Homepage Journal
    How is this Craiglist's fault? "Daniel" was doing something he was barred from doing. Shouldn't people be more upset that Daniel is doing this instead of being upset at Craigslist for investing massive amounts of money to protect someone else's dubious behavior?
  • Jurisdiction bites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ghostlibrary (450718) on Friday July 25, 2008 @02:32PM (#24340027) Homepage Journal

    So, Craigslist is in San Francisco, yes? And the court case was in Los Angelos. Sure, it's the same state, but California is big, that's a full day's drive apart (8-12 hours depending on route). So, as usual, the people suing chose a venue that's not where the supposably offending business is located.

    That's the real problem here. To expect someone to have to take 3 days off to fly or drive a long distance to attend each and every spurious lawsuit just means you can do a Denial of Service Real World... file lots of lawsuits until the airfare bankrupts the given target.

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