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How EveryLodge Works; Thoughts on Copyright & Terms of Service

As we get ready to launch, we thought it important to say something about how we collect our data. We would ultimately like to be able to reach an agreement to source our data directly from Jetsetter, Vacaionist, Voyage Prive, etc., but decided to launch without any relationship with any of these companies themselves.

We generally do not use automated “bots” or “spiders” to gather data from the sale websites. This is for legal reasons. It is important to note that the sites do not have copyright over the information that we are using. This follows a 1991 decision by the Supreme Court. The Court decided that a telephone company’s white pages directory consists of unoriginal facts that are not entitled to copyright protection. This landmark case substantially increased the amount of material in the public domain, which has enabled a number of useful applications that aggregate facts and present them in new and interesting ways.

Unfortunately, however, the ability for a new generation of entrepreneurs to use facts that they find online is being curtailed by the terms of service of the sites on which these facts are located. Although terms of service are usually hidden somewhere in a website’s footer or on an about page, users of a website are said to have impliedly agreed to these terms simply by using the site. In most cases, this is not a big deal. Terms of service normally prohibit activities that are clearly wrong, such as spamming discussion boards, and contain other terms that are entirely reasonable, such as limiting the liability of the owner of the website. However, terms of service are becoming increasingly broad. Many now prevent users from collecting or recording, by any means, data found on the site. It is possible that such terms are unreasonable and therefore unenforceable; the courts have not yet decided this point. In any case, however, this is a regrettable development. Website owners are attempting to secure rights that they are denied by copyright law, and as a result entrepreneurs are dissuaded from developing new applications that rely on collecting and aggregating data.

As you may have guessed, several of the flash sale websites we track contain terms of service that prohibit data collection. We never engage in activities that breach terms of service. In some cases, out of an abundance of caution, we have even decided not to join a particular site in order to avoid becoming party to its terms of service. In order to gather information about sales, we therefore rely in part on your submissions. The flash sale websites don’t prohibit you from telling someone else about a sale they’re featuring. This is fortunate for us, but fortunate for them, too: without word of mouth publicity, they would probably go out of business.

Consequently, please tell us if you find a sale that we haven’t listed. We aggregate the information you submit; if several independent sources provide identical information, we assume that it’s correct. We also compare it against several other sources. The end result is that we’re able to tell you, with a very high degree of confidence, about the flash sales taking place across the web.

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