back to article Love our open API? Talk to our lawyers, says If This Then That

Bookmarking site Pinboard has discovered one of the downsides of the so-called “API economy”: that moment when lawyers get in the way of a service. In this blog post, founder Maciej Ceglowski claims that If This Then That – which, according to him, is a kind of “plumbing-as-a-service” glue-code site – has fired up new …

  1. Ole Juul

    House of cards

    Like the JavaScript NPM fracas last week, this just goes to highlight how things have been going the wrong way for a long time. You simply can't keep building dependencies on dependencies forever.

  2. Gray
    Flame

    Seriously?

    RE: IFTTT TOS

    Just what in hell's name do they (or their deranged lawyers) expect to profitably gain by this? Do they actually intend to assert ownership rights to content touched by their widgets? Seriously? FOAD!*

    *Fuck Off And Die!

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      Well if they can't raise cash somehow from their service then they may very well fuck off and die. Then they won't be there anymore, and we all lose something then.

      Free to use isn't the same as cost free, and without funding who's going to pay their bills? This isn't necessarily a good way of monetising their business, but I can't see a paid for service working commercially for IFTTT either.

      The way things are going our data will have been scrapped for advertising hints by so many outfits on its way to us there'll be little point in it being private. Might as well send it en clair and let commercial advertisers tap our home Internet connection... Would that really be any different to how we use and pay for Google, IFTTT, Facebook, etc, etc?

      Amazon, Netflix, etc are different - there's a good reason to give them actual money. Thus they could offer Google-like or IFTTT-like services as a fringe benefit without any of the nasty intrusion. That sounds pretty appealing to me.

      1. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: Seriously?

        "Free to use isn't the same as cost free, and without funding who's going to pay their bills? This isn't necessarily a good way of monetising their business, but I can't see a paid for service working commercially for IFTTT either."

        Well but with those startups we are talking about perhaps 100-200k USD a year for the actual operational and development costs, essentially such services can be done by a mildly competent programmer sitting in a room... what's expensive are the people trying to turn such a service into a business. They are the ones talking to investors and advertisers. They are the ones doing marketing campaigns to promote the service... which at best helps raising the price you sell your company for.

        Just like Twitter, such a service could easily be done donation based. It's the desire to turn it into a profitable company that makes it uneconomical.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Seriously?

        Then they won't be there anymore, and we all lose something then.

        Discuss!

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      "Just what in hell's name do they (or their deranged lawyers) expect to profitably gain by this?"

      They expect lots of users to sign up without reading the ToS. And they're probably right.

  3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    "Share on Facebook the most viral stories on Entertainment Weekly"

    I give up. There is nothing I can say about this

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Share on Facebook the most viral stories on Entertainment Weekly"

      You could do it via a MongoDB-backed Node.Js application that uses Cortana to generate text prefiltered by Watson.

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        But that

        would show dangerous signs of intelligence.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Share on Facebook the most viral stories on Entertainment Weekly"

        "You could do it via a MongoDB-backed Node.Js application that uses Cortana to generate text prefiltered by Watson."

        Fail. You missed both DevOps and Hyperconvergence.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The falacy of Framework dependencies

    So you build your 'product' using one or more 'frameworks' that make the time to market a whole lot shorter and then complain if the owners of the framework want to get some revenue for the use of said framework?

    Really?

    Where is your plan 'B'?

    You know, the one that allows you to put two fingers up at the evil barstewards who now want to get some income from their work?

    not got one? Well tough shit.

    Suddenly the scaffolding that surrounded your building has been blown away (like many in the storm last Monday) and you are left to pick up the pieces.

    Perhaps you should have been using some GPL'd framework in the first place? I don't know.

    All I do know is that anyone with half a business brain would know not to put all their eggs in one basket.

    IT is even taught to MBA Numbskulls.

    As for this particular App/site/whatever, I personally could not care less.

    The guy needs to get working on an alternative (or two) ASAP so he can vote with his feet and give the old framework the finger.

    However, it does seem that the frameworkd owners have gone a tad too far in trying to monetize everything that passes through their framework. PErhaps their lawyers are Shyster, Grabbit and Run?

    I don't see a long term future for their framework if they stick to their new Terms of service.

    Even more reason to have a Plan 'B' then?

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: The falacy of Framework dependencies

      I know the piece was pitifully short on detail but maybe you should go find out how this actually works (for the week it has left to live). No dependency on them to build his site, shims they wrote supplying an external service that's nice to be part of but far from essential in any way. An offer the top 'service' very easy to just ignore it they continue down this path.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The falacy of Framework dependencies

      You've got completely the wrong end of the stick. Pinboard doesn't rely on IFTTT as any kind of framework (and if you've read any of his stuff, you'll know that he dislikes frameworks in general, and certainly not ones by companies whose only business plan is to get bought by Google or Facebook). So your complaints about scaffolding, Plan B etc, while true in general, don't apply here. Pinboard is a profitable site that doesn't depend on IFTTT in any way.

      Pinboard has an API (for browser extensions etc to use) and IFTTT has / had a public API. Someone at IFTTT linked the two together. Now IFTTT are changing their API and want Pinboard to do their work for them and link the two back together again. And, at the same time, it looks like they're trying to make a land-grab for all of Pinboard's data in the process.

  5. redpawn

    Like SCO

    Touch us and "All your code are belong to us."

    Remember SCO?

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Like SCO

      Remember SCO?

      I'm sure they do. It was extremely profitable for lawyers (on both sides). Probably far more so than running a real business.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Like SCO

        " It was extremely profitable for lawyers (on both sides). Probably far more so than running a real business. doing anything useful."

    2. Swarthy
      Pirate

      Theeyy'ree Baaaack

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/30/zombie_sco_rises_from_the_grave_iagaini/

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    I looks as if we're seeing cargo cult approaches to open source.

    There have been a few successful approaches to this:

    1. Work for what you see as the common good, expecting and receiving minimal rewards - works as a full-time developer if an essentially hippy lifestyle is OK for you.

    2. Work for the common good but produce something which is of sufficient value to business users that they're prepared to fund you.

    3. Offer some OS-related service such as support on top of your OS work.

    4. Use OS to provide some non-OS related product or service and feed back your own contributions, essentially sharing development costs with others who might even be your competitors.

    What appears to have happened is that people have seen OS work for others and joined in as creators or as consumers without understanding what makes these approaches work and indeed, without understanding that OS development really involves contributing to a commons.

  7. TeeCee Gold badge
    Facepalm

    Obvious.

    ... IFTTT claims ownership over content passing through its service.....

    Well, if you are trying to get bought by Faceberk it probably helps to be compatible with their terms of service to ensure a seamless, legal transition.

    It won't make any difference. It's not like there's been a mass exodus from Darth Zuckerbitch's Imperium since they introduced their "We pwns everfing u put heer and ur little dog too" terms.

  8. Tyfy

    This appears to have been misinterpreted

    Pinboard do not use IFTTT but instead IFTTT link Pinboard to other things.

    Pinboard already have an API that IFTTT use but IFTTT want Pinboard to implement a private API that IFTTT will use and IFTTT want Pinboard to do this for free.

    IFTTT are the ones that are breaking their integration with Pinboard by turning of integration with the current API.

    This is the writeup by the Pinboard CEO

    https://blog.pinboard.in/2016/03/my_heroic_and_lazy_stand_against_ifttt/

  9. moiety Silver badge

    An API is code controlled by other people...that's the definition pretty well. If your code depends upon other's kit then you can have the rug pulled out from under you at any minute. So 1) Do everything locally (ie, don't rely on an API); 2) Have a plan B whereby you can switch out every single component if you need to; or 3) Just go for it with no backup plan. But don't expect any sympathy when it breaks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As others have said, Pinboard aren't relying on IFTTT. If anything it's the other way round. Except IFTTT are changing their APIs and want Pinboard to rewrite their integration code.

  10. kaicarver

    IFTTT makes amends

    Just FYI the CEO of IFTTT has backtracked somewhat and apologized:

    We’ve made mistakes over the past few days both in communication and judgment. I’d like to apologize for those mistakes and attempt to explain our intentions. I also pledge to do everything we can to keep Pinboard on IFTTT. ...

    http://blog.ifttt.com/private/142024128773/tumblr_o4x2hePEzo1qb2iia

    Maciej has posted this additional info:

    IFTTT will maintain Pinboard support through at least the end of 2016. While this date is not specified in their full statement, I have confirmed it with the CEO and am pleased to announce it here. ...

    I'm grateful to IFTTT for listening to our shared users, and finding a way to extend the life of a service many people have come to rely on.

    https://blog.pinboard.in/2016/03/my_heroic_and_lazy_stand_against_ifttt/

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