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).
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.