Legal Question Re: Starting Directory Website


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May 18, 2007
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I'm starting a website that's a combination of both a business directory and a platform to buy/sell commercial RE. I've never created a website like this before and I have a few important questions.

The success of the site will depend on getting as many listings as possible (since it's obvious that a directory with no listings isn't very valuable). I've read that a good strategy when starting a directory is to add as many listings as possible to my site and then ask each business to claim their listing. I presume this is legal/ethical even though the businesses haven't agreed to be listed because a business name/address is public knowledge (i.e. I can get the information from the yellow pages).

I also want to add property commercial RE for sale listings to my site and ask the sellers to claim the "free" listings. However, I don't know if it's legal/ethical for me to copy listings from other commercial RE for sale sites and put them on my site without referencing the sites that are posting the listing (which I do NOT want to do). I would not copy the listings verbatim and would only borrow certain elements of the listings (e.g. the name of the business, location, asking price, etc.). Each listing would also include a link to contact the seller, so I wouldn't be pretending to be a representative, agent or broker for the seller in any way.

If I don't follow this strategy, I presume that I will have to get approval before posting any for sale listings and this could take a lot more time.

Is it okay to follow this strategy of posting for sale listings without approval but allow each seller to claim their listing? If not, how do most sites like this get started since you have to have listings to get traffic but a new site without traffic can't get listings?

Any advice on this matter would be greatly appreciated.


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