CrunchBase reaches agreement with People+

As a follow-up of the interesting dispute between CrunchBase and People+ involving Creative Commons, CrunchBase has announced that it will publish all of its data under a Creative Commons 4.0 licence, specifically CC-BY-NC. At the same time, they announced that People+ has agreed to comply with the new terms and conditions. The press release from CrunchBase reads:

Earlier today we updated our Terms of Service for the first time since the CrunchBase API was launched in July 2008.  Back then, CrunchBase listed only 5k companies and the startup community was just beginning to figure out what insights could be drawn from the CrunchBase dataset.  Today, CrunchBase includes profiles on over 200k companies plus the founders, investors, and fundings that have brought those companies to life.  With thousands of updates pouring in every day from the community, the CrunchBase Venture Program  and our partners, it’s no surprise that 5k registered developers are working with the API and tens of thousands of people have downloaded our monthly data exports.

Our revised Terms of Service provide additional clarity on how the CrunchBase dataset can be leveraged for research and application development.  Following our commitment to make the terms as clear as possible, CrunchBase worked closely with the Electronic Frontier Foundation to incorporate Creative Commons 4.0 and to follow established best practices.  “CrunchBase’s new terms of service are clearer and more in line with the best practices of the open content community,” said Mitch Stoltz, a Staff Attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The new terms should allow developers to re-use and build on the CrunchBase dataset with greater confidence”.  The new terms ensure that the CrunchBase dataset continues to be a valuable resource that thousands of developers and researchers can rely upon.

The CrunchBase dataset is now offered under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 license [CC-BY-NC].  As with our previous terms, non-commercial use of the CrunchBase dataset simply requires attribution.  We also encourage commercial use of the CrunchBase dataset, in whole or in part.  Commercial uses do require a separate license to safeguard the community’s investment in the CrunchBase, as well as protect the dataset’s integrity.  Members of the CrunchBase Venture Program do not require a new license.

To learn more about building on the CrunchBase dataset, visit our developer website.  If you are using the dataset for commercial purposes, please contact us.

This is an interesting development that unfortunately will not answer the question of whether one can have API terms and conditions that contradict a licence. It seems like CrunchBase was aware that they had a potential PR disaster in their hands, and so they worked with EFF lawyers to get their house in order and release their data using a non-commercial licence.

This serves as further proof that most CC-related conflicts will be solved by amicable means, the fear of community action tends to draw the parties to the negotiating table.

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