Feasibility of this type of iPhone app


Let's say I create a mobile application that contains a "Top 100" list of local restaurants. Value-adds may include directions, integration with OpenTable, and links to the restaurant menu, among other things.

The only caveat is where the "Top 100" list comes from - it's published in the local newspaper annually.

So off the bat, I know that doing this independently is illegal and violates all kinds of copyright laws and terms of use.

My question is - what would be the (or "a") right approach to make this legal? For example, what department should I try and get in front of?

One way I'm planning to pitch this is to ask only for the right to reproduce the content, and offer a %age of the revenue in return. I'd like to know your opinions on this, and whether you think there are other feasible alternatives.



Legal Iphone Apps

asked Apr 28 '10 at 02:49
428 points
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2 Answers


It is difficult to provide any definitive answer, because it is not clear how you want your app to work.

If you intend to include the text of the restaurant reviews, then, yes, you would need to approach the copyright owner (if the publisher is the Chron, go to their copyright page ) for a license to use their content. (I do not know how likely you would be to succeed in this effort.)

If you merely want to link to the reviews, then including restaurants on the list may come under copyright fair use, and referring to the Top 100 may come under trademark fair use. However, fair use analyses are intricate and highly fact-dependent, so you probably would need a legal opinion as to whether these defenses would be available.

Disclaimer: This post does not constitute legal advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.

answered Apr 28 '10 at 04:30
Dana Shultz
6,015 points


It would be cool to be able to crowd source your data. ie. get people to vote for their favourite restaurants and use that data for the app.

You could make this feature part of the app or run a competition to collect it prior to launching the app.

Of course with anything like this, it has a network effect ie. you need to have a critical mass of users using it before it is valuable.

I would also check what your competitors are doing and try to work out where they are getting their data from. Then try to improve on the quality of the data for your app.

answered Apr 28 '10 at 10:17
Susan Jones
4,128 points
  • +1 - sounds like he is targeting a local area, so this makes a lot of sense. – Jeff O 14 years ago

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Legal Iphone Apps