You haven't made it until you get sued | Updates (Apr-23-2013) | Comments 16/Nov/2013: I'm back on twitter as @geolytica. A friend gave me an idea. Tweet every new postal code geocoder gets on its web interface until the copyright lawsuit is over. So, here we go. Let's use some postal codes other than for the purpose of sending mail via Canada Post.

23/March/2012 - Ottawa, ON

We have been sued over a database we offer on this website under the "Open Database License (ODbL)", which some of you may have used at some point.

This is the gist of the matter:

Since 2004 we have crowdsourced* the generation of the "Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Database." When you make a query to geocoder containing for example this information "1435 Prince of Wales, Ottawa, ON K2C 1N5", we then extract the postal code "K2C 1N5" and insert it into the database that you may download for free on this website.

This allows you to look up a postal code (eg K2C 1N5) on www.geocoder.ca, or www.openstreetmap.org or a number of other sites that use geocoder.ca data and technology.

Since we do not have a postal code dataset from the authority on postal code assignments, namely "Canada Post", we derive and guess this information sometimes with pretty good accuracy results.

Now "Canada Post" has sued "Geocoder.ca" in Federal Court, asking "Geocoder.ca" to take this database down from this website, and also to "pay Canada Post" damages on lost business the later has suffered by not selling enough copies of their own postal code file (last time I checked at $5,000CAD a piece).

This brings us here. Having to face a crown corporation with deep pockets in Federal Court, over something we have created but which they believe otherwise.

Fighting for principle is expensive, and we will do it. Even against the odds, namely the foremost law firm in the country for IP litigation, hired by Canada Post to bring us down.

It will be easier with your help. If you are an entity or person who has benefited from Geocoder.ca free or commercial products and services write your thoughts on Canada Post's desire to shut down this website.

We will post new developments and updates regarding this case here.

Help us fight to keep these data free by donating to geocoder.ca's legal defense fund:



Sincerely,

Ervin Ruci.

Update #14: 10-May-2014:

Internal survey blasts feds for missing database

Update #13: 23-Apr-2013:

Canada Post is pursuing their legal action with a new twist (now they are also claiming infringment on the trademarked word-pair 'postal code.') I wrote a lengthy blog post about this on my personal blog eruci.com, because this time around they are also suing me personally.

Most incredibly though, with this updated new claim they are now suing other websites, on the basis that "they use the Geocoder.ca free XML port to earn revenue(?!)"

Update #12: 22-Mar-2013:

Although Canadapost has moved to release at least some of their data, as was the case with their 3-digit postal code polygon file (a small step in the right direction but a significant one still, because they have never released any data before), their lawsuit against geocoder.ca continues. We thank all those that continue to express interest and support geocoder's position. We hope to have a more detailed update in April 2013.

Update #11: 1-Feb-2013:

A quick update. The legal case is now in discovery, which means each side gets to hear the other's arguments. Once this stage is complete (sometime in March 2013) we'll have more to share with all interested parties.

Update #10: 10-July-2012:

Dr. Emir Crowne, an Associate Professor at the University of Windsor, Faculty of Law and a Barrister & Solicitor with the Law Society of Upper Canada has joined our legal team.

Update #9: 24-May-2012: A few quick updates.
  1. The case is now in what is called "legal procedure". That means back and forth between the two legal camps and inching closer towards being presented before a judge.
  2. How it affects our business. Strangely enough we are a little bit branded with a hot iron for certain companies. For example, a credit card payment processor in the USA can not process our financial transactions because they became aware of this ongoing litigation after visiting this very page. I presented them with the question "would you have the same stance towards google or oracle who are similarly engaged in litigation?" This was their response
  3. How it affects your business. Some of our customers have expressed concerns as to how this litigation may affect them. Is canadapost going to sue everyone that uses geocoder.ca? It would be very surprising if they now go after IBM, Mapquest, Openstreetmap, Securitas or even the handful federal government departments that use geocoder.ca data and related services. Although there seems to be no limit to copyright insanity these days. And it has happenned before in other countries. All I can say to such concerns however is that "To our knowledge, Canada Post Corporation has not sought any legal action against any our clients for using our datasets. Moreover, we're confident that our datasets are entirely free of any copyright infringement and we're presently vigorously defending ourselves against Canada Post's allegations."
Update #8: 08-May-2012: Politicians are taking notice.
Update #7: 30-April-2012: Just saw this article. It seems like Canada Post is embarking on a public relations charm offensive. I too agree that "hygiene of the address data" is important. Perhaps Canada Post should also listen to what some of Geocoder.ca clients have to say about that. Among those who are writing to their MP's about this case, this is one letter that was copied to me yesterday (published here with the author's consent).
Update #6: 27-April-2012: Canadapost has responded to the statement of defense maintaining their position as well as throwing in a few interesting viewpoints on the way geocoder.ca does business as well as implying that geocoder.ca is partly responsible for their mail delivery problems. So the case moves on further through the hoops of the legal system. In the meantime I have received a large number of letters of support from the public and even some of Canada Post's own employees (past and present). With their permission I am posting some of these emails here. I also found something else that may be of interest: Canada Post Cease and Desist letter outlining their views on postal code copyright.
Update #5: 23-April-2012: Give me your postal code. We are on course to release the largest update to our postal code file to date (Scheduled for May 1st 2012). We asked Canadians to Give us their postal code and they did! The publicity of this legal case is the best thing to happen to the quality of our geocoded postal code dataset. Have you given us your postal code yet? If not, go ahead and do so at this url (don't forget to include your street address as well). In return we will give you a better dataset.
Update #4: 14-April-2012: Donations to the "Geocoder.ca legal defense fund" continue, topping a total of over $1200 in total donations until now. We thank everyone (and will continue to individually thank each and every one of those that have donated). We also re-iterate our previous pledge for any funds in excess to our legal costs (if this becomes the case), to a similar purpose. Money should serve a purpose, any purpose, except making it. That's my view at any rate.
Update #3: 12-April-2012: Statement of Defence Filed and Served by CIPPIC.
Update #2: 12-April-2012: There has been an outpouring of support and donations to our cause. To date over $700 in total donations have been received for the "Geocoder.ca legal defense fund." We thank everyone (and will individually thank each and every one of those that have donated, very soon). We also pledge any funds in excess to our legal costs (if this becomes the case), to a similar cause.
Update #1: 3-April-2012: The Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) is now representing geocoder.ca in federal court. About CIPPIC.
*Crowdsourcing explained
The full Scoop: 1 .. 2 .. 3 .. 4 .. 5 .. 6 .. 7 .. 8 .. 9 .