We really want you to be creative and have a fun time useing the Kiva API, but you can easily spoil the fun for yourself or everyone if you write an application that (unknowingly or not) doesn't play by the rules.
Before you develop an application on the Kiva API we must insist you read the Terms of Service. Our staff and some pretty smart lawyers worked really hard on these to protect you, Kiva, and our lenders. You must understand and abide by these terms.
Both borrowers and lenders have profiles on Kiva for the purposes of eradicating poverty through microfinance. Please respect the dignity of both, and create experiences that help us toward our mission. Disrespect of our users will not be tolerated.
To the best of your ability, please reflect data from the API accurately. For example, don't make an application that uses Kiva photos or descriptions to help promote your own cause, even if you think the data is related or the cause is just. Representing a loan in your application should be done for the sole purpose of promoting that loan for funding or communicating to others the story of that loan and entrepreneur as it appears on Kiva.
Additionally, please make sure you understand the data structure of responses, represent fields properly (e.g., don't confuse the loan schedule with the loan payments), and draw conclusions or aggregate statistics from the data accurately. We understand you might make mistakes, but it is your responsibility to fix egregious mistakes if we or others find them.
Kiva is a 501(c)(3) non-profit and, by law, we cannot allow our resources to be used for commercial purposes. Commercial entities can use the API to charitable ends in line with Kiva's mission, but if you have any doubts that what you are doing is within our terms of service, please contact us.
We're excited that you want to help us build applications and experiences for the Kiva community, but we do ask that you maintain your own brand. This means users should understand that your products are yours alone and not owned or operated by Kiva. You can use the Kiva logo or color scheme within reason for purposes of associating the content with Kiva, just don't call your application "Kiva Mobile." A name like "Mobile Loaner" might be more appropriate.
Share and share alike. The more often you make calls to the API, the less resources there are available for other developers and the more Kiva's operating expenses rise. Don't request data you don't need. Cache data when possible. Refreshed cached data only when it expires or you hit a cache miss (e.g., you come across an image URL template that is previously unknown to you). If your application is slow because you are making a lot of API calls or the API calls take a long time to return, you're probably doing something wrong. If you think that's not the case, please bring up your situation in the forums so we can help you or modify the API to make what you want to do faster and less demanding on the system.
When writing applications that use Kiva images, we'd like you to hyperlink those images back to Kiva — either to a full-size image hosted by Kiva or to a entrepreneur or lender profile as appropriate. If you have a great idea for linking the image to something else in your application, that's okay, we'd just like for you eventually to provide a link to the associated data on Kiva somewhere in the application flow. This helps you communicate copyright of the data back to Kiva.
When making API calls or linking back to Kiva, please pass an App ID in your request. Currently, this isn't required by the Terms Of Service, but consider it a polite way of saying hello and letting us know who's using the API. In the future we hope to return the favor by giving you stats on how your app is doing.
Kiva relies on the donations we ask for at checkout. Either ask your users for a donation and set it in the request to the basket, or leave it blank so we can set it to our suggested default amount.