Legal News, May 2016 - In regards to Canadian Postal Code data on Geocoder.ca:
This is the final update on the status of Canada Post's copyright/trademark lawsuit against Geocoder.ca, Ervin Ruci and Geolytica.
Canada Post has discontinued this lawsuit..
I can not comment on the terms of the settlement, other than to say this:
"Canada Post commenced court proceedings in 2012 against Geolytica Inc. for copyright infringement in relation to Geolytica Inc.'s Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset and related services offered on its website at geocoder.ca. The parties have now settled their dispute and Canada Post will discontinue the court proceedings. The postal codes returned by various geocoder interface APIs and downloadable on geocoder.ca, are estimated via a crowdsourcing process. They are not licensed by geocoder.ca from Canada Post, the entity responsible for assigning postal codes to street addresses. Geolytica continues to offer its products and services, using the postal code data it has collected via a crowdsourcing process which it created."
PS. I'd like to thank all those who have donated to our legal defense fund. All excess funds will be donated to those who conducted our legal defense pro bono over the past four years, with special thanks to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and RIDOUT & MAYBEE LLP.
CP Lawsuit News |
More information on Court number: T-519-12
Updates | Comments PROCEEDINGS Log via the Federal Court of Canada Website.
23/March/2012 - Ottawa, ON
We have been sued over a free database we offer on
this website under the "Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License."
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 oftentimes very accurately.
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. It will be easier with your help.
Update #16: 09-October-2015:
CanadaPost's lawsuit, now in its 4rth year, is ongoing and it looks like it is finally getting a court date soon (they have been quiet for a while, probably wishing to keep this under wraps until after the Federal Election.)
Either way, we are still here, and we are still providing a free database of postal addresses and postal codes that is bigger and better than ever.
The main database has grown considerably in the last 4 years, further proof that crowdsourcing works! As of the last update on 2015-09-30, 12613 new postal codes were added, with the total now approaching 1 million.
You may download all these data for free at
http://geocoder.ca/?freedata=1 (under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Canada License.)
Will keep you posted as to the latest developments from the federal court. All the best and thank you for your support.
Update #15: 25-March-2015:
Not much to report on the legal front. Waiting for the legal system's gears to turn and put an end to this copyright/trademark nonsense. I also recently gave a talk about this at the '
State of the Map.' My slides are here.
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:
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.
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.
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 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:
Update #7: 30-April-2012:
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).
Date: April 29, 2012 1:37:36 PM EDT
To: "Ervin Ruci" firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Re: Postal Code Issue & Lawsuit Comments
Below is the letter I sent to my MP, feel free to use any or all of it for any purpose you like.
Dear Mr. Hsu:
I'm writing today to make you aware of a very important situation beginning to take shape, which stands to threaten businesses small and large in a variety of different industries all across the country. The matter to which I'm referring is Canada Post's attempt to assert copyright ownership of the postal code, and prevent the usage of postal codes for anything other than addressing mail.
Earlier this month, Canada Post sued a small company based in Ottawa (Geolytica /
GeoCoder.ca) to prevent them from selling their postal code database and mapping technology, of which my company is a customer, which was how I became aware of and involved in this situation. There is a Toronto Sun article here: http://www.torontosun.com/2012/04/13/canada-post-sues-to-keep-ownership-of-postal-code-list which outlines the basics of the case, and the complete legal filings are posted on the GeoCoder.ca website should you wish to view them.
Shutting down that service would have a serious impact on my business located here in Kingston, and more importantly the precedent it would set would be enormous. A great number of websites rely on postal code mapping to give visitors an easy way to view content in their area. In my case, my
AutoWizard.ca website allows users to enter their postal code to see vehicles and dealers within the area they would like to travel. The postal code the user enters is instantly converted to a latitude and longitude using the GeoCoder.ca service, and then compared with the database of vehicles for sale which were previously mapped in the same way. Without using postal codes, I can't envision any other way to quickly and easily do that for customers. While replacing the GeoCoder.ca service itself is possible (with significant cost and effort), the precedent of a decision against them would prevent me from even creating my own database of postal codes to use internally for the purpose.
Canada Post claims to offer a comparable service (the real root of their lawsuit), but the truth is that they simply do not. Their offering is a huge data file which you are left to manipulate on your own without any tools or support, compared to this service which lets you easily submit actual individual mapping requests and receive a response instantly. Canada Post's product costs $5,500, which is out of reach for most small businesses such as my own, and requires ongoing labour to manually integrate updates as they are released, not to mention the significant initial development costs. In addition, the data they provide lacks the same accuracy as GeoCoder.ca's (an interesting twist, considering Canada Post's lawsuit alleges
GeoCoder.ca copied their database) to the point where it's much less useful for the purposes mentioned above, which I can verify first hand from the sample I received from them when initially investigating the use of these services.
In closing, while I realize this is a matter currently before the courts, it will be a very public and hopefully high profile case, and I would very much appreciate any involvement or attention you could bring to the matter. The precedent of not allowing Canadians to use postal codes for any purpose other than addressing mail would be damaging to our economy and society. The postal code system has become a part of our daily lives, and the product of a Crown corporation should be owned by the Canadian people to do with as they wish.
Thank you for your time and attention to this issue. Please feel free to contact me if you have any comments or would like to discuss this matter further.
Update #6: 27-April-2012:
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.
Legal News, May 2016 - In regards to Canadian Postal Code data on Geocoder.ca:
Canada Post commenced court proceedings in 2012 against Geolytica Inc. for copyright infringement in relation to Geolytica Inc.'s Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset and related services offered on its website at geocoder.ca. The parties have now settled their dispute and Canada Post will discontinue the court proceedings. The postal codes returned by various geocoder interface APIs and downloadable on geocoder.ca, are estimated via a crowdsourcing process. They are not licensed by geocoder.ca from Canada Post, the entity responsible for assigning postal codes to street addresses. Geolytica continues to offer its products and services, using the postal code data it has collected via a crowdsourcing process which it created.
Notice of Discontinuance