Geocoding USA & Canada since 2005.

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Lawsuit Concluded - May 2016.

Legal News, May 2016 - In regards to Canadian Postal Code data on Geocoder.ca:

Lawsuit Update
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: The terms of settlement are confidential but our agreed statement is 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."

While it is unfortunate that it took Canada Post 4 years to come to this conclusion, this turn of events reinforces our long held position that our postal code data is crowd sourced.

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. PS. I'd like to thank all those who have supported our position and donated to our legal defense fund. All excess funds All excess donations and/or other funds we have received at the conclusion of this lawsuit, will be donated to those who conducted our legal defense pro bono over the past four years of legal wrangling, with special thanks to the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC) and RIDOUT & MAYBEE LLP.

Write your thoughts on Canada Post's legal action against Geocoder.ca A summary of comments received thus far | You may also contact us through our Contact Page

Your Opinion Counts Geocoder Home


Aaron HamiltonThis is so absurd, but at least I now have a better idea of how your site works.

Maybe you could make a graph to show them how you derive your data, and show places in the data where your errors make perfect sense given your process.

Anyway, I hope the litigation works out for you, I'm personally sour that a crown corporation can hold, and is holding this information as proprietary.

Andrew BefusThis is maddening. Canada Post has f***ed the dog in keeping up with technology. They are behind in every possible way and rather than investing in keeping up they have decided to drag a well-meaning service down with them. I won't be putting up with any crap from Canada Post and will continue to avoid using them at all costs. They are hemorrhaging tax dollars and should be shut down, divided up and sold off to the private sector. I'd be willing to pay more for postal service rather that give another cent to an anti-progressive monopoly that sits on its laurels and can't adapt. Large postal delivery services should be at the forefront of technology - this shows Canada Post does have a f***ing clue. Not a f***ing clue buddy!

Bernie I read about the law suit today and I donated a few dollars. I am an OSM mapper and I believe the open data movement is great for our society and economy. I don’t currently use your services or free data but I may in the future. Good luck in the law suit. Just out of curiosity – are you the only employee of geocoder.ca?? The company address appears to be a residential apartment building.

Bernie.

Bob FillmoreI think this action by Canada Post is ridiculous. The Canadian Postal Code was invented by, and the initial database populated by, Canada Post in the early 70's, when they were a federal government department. They didn't become a crown corporation until 1981, therefore the federal government owns the invention and it should be freely available to the public. Perhaps the federal government should pay them for maintaining it... that's a separate question.
Please persevere in your battle, it's the right thing to do.
Thank you!

Bob TrowerThis is outrageous. The people at Canada Post should be ashamed of themselves.

We need very strong proactive legislation to outlaw this type of thing. Given the nature of the assault on the commons, I support severe criminal penalties for people attempting to create this type of nuisance.

The immediate short-term legislation that makes sense is to place any data produced by the government of Canada into the public domain, the same as it is in the United States.

BrianWe (various openstreetmap people) are watching keenly for a
number of reasons. See our blog post on the subject:
http://opengeodata.org/geocoderca-sued-by-canada-post

Was most impressed by your "Statement of Defence" and really consider
that you should have no case to answer - as you say any other result
would be a disaster from a public interest point of view.

I'm just sorry that anyone had to fight this fight in order to prove that.
--
Brian

CharlesIf you haven’t already, I think this warrants a complaint to the anti-competition bureau and whether or not Canada Post is abusing their monopoly on mail delivery to suppress competition?

http://www.itbusiness.ca/it/client/en/Home/News.asp?id=67962&cid=99

chuckPRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Ervin,

Below is an excerpt from an email with another online company that was selling the COMPLETE Canada post database up until December 31, 2011. Including lat/long data which Canada Post does NOT provide as well as in access database format (significant value enhancement vs the raw data that Canada Post sells which still requires significant technical expertise to transfer into a usable tabular and spatial format). At a cost of about $500 vs what Canada Post was charging ($4K+ depending on usage). Ie; you could have purchased a complete royalty free redistribution license for a couple of thousand dollars !!!!!

So you could argue that it is presumptuous of Canada Post to argue that it suffered ANY financial losses whether or not you previously infringed their copyright, since companies (if they had known) would have purchased it directly from these online (legitimately licensed) data resellers and therefore CP suffered no real loses up until such agreements expired in their entirety, and that past licensing practices were permissive in doing so, so retroactively suing you doesn’t make any sense financially in terms of damages.

The fact that Canada Post proactively revised its data license agreements (changed the rules) just a few months ago (and hired a full-time manager of “enforcement”) prior to renegotiating these reseller agreements should raise some real questions about abuse of their powers and anti-competitive business practices – given the financial loses that these companies experienced.

If you look at the UK, which is where I understand Canada Post actually acquired the postal code concept from (how can you copyright a concept that you stole/purchased from another country?), you will see that the UK postal service now freely distributes this data – Canada being the last country (as usual) to not do so, even though every branch of government now freely distributes significant amounts of data that they previously didn’t, and Canada Post is now using this copyright ploy to obstruct the government’s intent to make data freely available to the public since it is quite routine to use postal codes as a convenient link to other data sets. In my opinion there are better ways of doing this without the postal code but most organizations don’t know better.

You also may not be aware that Canada Post considers the Postal Code as a “mark” and requires the payment of a license fee from any organization that stores and/or uses the postal code for commercial non-mailing use purposes ie; data analysis.

Here is the excerpt from the email:

We have been informed by Canada Post (the source of our data), that we can no longer sell certain information that we currently have in our Business version of our database. The fields below are the fields that we are no longer allowed to sell.

Street Seq Code
Street From #
Street From Suffix
Street To #
Street To Suffix

All other fields remain unaffected.

We have been authorized to continue your current subscription until the end but once that subscription has expired, you wouldn't be able to get those fields in our new Business version.

We do apologize but we have been given no choice in the matter, they told us to either remove it or they were not going to renew our contract with them.

You might also want to consider purchasing the stripped down version of this postal code database since you could argue that it grants you the license you need to continue doing what you are doing? From what I recall you don’t store the actual “From” and “To” fields. You are attributing the ends of road networks obtained from 3rd party sources, many of which have values not contained in the postal code database, and appending the nearest postal code to it. So your address ranged values are derived from other sources and enhanced with just the postal code freely provided by the person that it is associated with (not the entire CP mailing address database) for non-postal code usage (ie; geocoding zones vs mail sorting purposes). Ie; if the data is being used for non-mail delivery purposes and you are compiling a road directory generated from an entirely different data source (geobase or ....) then how can they substantiate your claim.

I would argue that the postal code is in fact a derivative work that cannot exist without a physical address (something which I don’t think they can’t claim ownership of). Isn’t the postal code then just a formula and/or algorithm for short hand referencing a physical location (a person’s home or a post office delivery location). Which is used to encode their mail sorting “software” and therefore of no value to other than Canada Post except for when it is used for delivering mail – which of course it receives proper compensation for via paid postage for each piece of mail that is sent? You could even argue that their selling the postal code for non-mailing commercial purposes is not directly related to their function of delivering mail (not protected by their monopoly), and that they should cease and desist immediately the sale of such data which it has no right to resell - LOL. Hurt them where it counts in the pocket book because they can’t argue both sides of the story unless their lawyers are miracle workers.

Donna KymAs an employee of Canada Post, I understand the corporations desire to protect revenue, however, I strongly disagree with the suing of a website for allowing a postal code search! This is crazy!!! All this is because of the Conference Board Report and porjected losses. Yes, this is a reality. CPC needs to find new sources to make money and good ways to protect it, but not this. This is just desperate. Does anyone have some good suggestions on where to take the business in a POSITIVE direction?

Dwayne J. BaldwinGet out your $5 bills for Freedom of Information Act requests.

Request the sales revenue and operational costs of the postal codes database unit.
Request the headcount and cost of the legal department.
Request the headcount and cost of the unit that handles Access to Information Act requests.
Request the most requested data set by the Canadian public.
Request the cost of inaccurate postal code information. (I'll bet they don't have a clue.)

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2007/09/01/key-crown-corporations-brought-under-freedom-of-information-law

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091209/0119037260.shtml

It is the official property of the People of Canada, it is the law, and Canadians are entitled to transparency with Canadian Crown Corporations.

Dwayne J. Baldwin

Erik LupiENI AM FULLY OPPOSED TO CANADA POST'S LEGAL ACTION AGAINST GEOCODER.CA.

I AM A BIG PROPONENT OF SMALL BUSINESSES IN CANADA AND I RESENT CANADA POST USING MY TAX DOLLARS TO TAKE LEGAL ACTION AGAINST A SMALL BUSINESS LIKE GEOCODER.CA.

THAT CANADA POST WOULD TAKE SUCH ACTION UPSETS ME GREATLY AND MAKES ME WANT TO MAKE EVERY EFFORT NOT TO USE OR SUPPORT CANADA POST IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM FROM THIS DAY FORWARD UNTIL CANADA POST STOPS THIS ATTACK AGAINST GEOCODER.CA

Fabrikant ValeryHi, I was reading the info, mostly about "Sued" and I was quite suprised, that data is not free from the
Canada Post, it seem we don't pay enough tax, I suppose we have to pay until some courageous people who will correct that ridiculus thing....

Well, I look the data from you web site and I didn't find the civic number or range to be more precise to get the "zip code", so could you help on that, I will prefer pay you some fees to process data than Canada Post who make enough money. I hope, you may have that information and I be glad to tranfer a paypal amount to you and hope that will help you with law sute.

Sorry for my english, but I may not be able to write correctly but I do understand when I read....

Have a great day and wish you all luck.

FlorinI hope the mainstream press will write about this lawsuit (I only learned about it from Hacker News.) I think most reasonable people will agree that Canada Post is trying to set an extremely bad precedent. They shouldn't get away with this.

--Florin

Gone FishinIf Canada Post is losing business on their PC dbase sales it's their own stupidity. I can buy this information for $39 and NO CP I am not telling you where. Consider this your wake up call. People are fed up with corporate greed.

Guillaume ParentI read your lawyer's statement of defense and I wanted to metaphorically punch Canada Post. I hope you guys win; fire-and-forget bullying lawsuits that seem to have no meat (from my non lawyer perspective) are so much worse than what you guys are doing, which is essentially being better than them without even using their database.

Good luck, may the law be with you.

H0H H0HI have started to look at your services and noticed that the postal code H0H 0H0 is reported as being in Toronto, ON. It seems to me the city should be "North Pole" with coordinates 90,0, though some have suggested that it should be the magnetic north pole, but that has the problem that it moves. I suppose the province could be NU. Of course, there is a discrepancy because postal codes starting in H are supposed to be in Quebec. I note that ZIP code 99705 points to North Pole, AK.

Liam

HaroonHi

Just noticed an other gov agency stats Canada is also selling same info (postal code and geo coordinates) for twice the price

http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/bsolc/olc-cel/olc-cel?catno=92-153-X&lang=eng


May be they need to decide by themselves who owns it.

By the way stats Canada used our tax to fun their census why is it a paid DB ?


Haroon

Ivanu guys are awesome. keep up the good fight against corporate bureaucracy ( people who never invent but only use other people stuff)

James SwansburgHi, I would love to donate, but I am a start-up and not rich (yet). So instead you get my heartfelt sympathy ;) Keep up the court battle!

JohnCanada Post will need to sue Wikipedia also for listing postal codes..... oops, that is copyrighted now?... zipcodes ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_postal_codes_in_Canada

John ClarkeCanada Post is bullying and using its post-monopoly advantage to squash real innovation. So much interesting work could be done if this information was free to use. Disgusted.

John RockefellerPut all your data up on torrent if it isn't already and give Anonymous a call!


JonMy company has been using both the Canada Post's database and geocoder's (free version) for some time now. We were contacted by canadapost with some strongly worded warnings regarding our affiliation with geocoder.ca
very bizarre
good luck with everything, I hope you win.

JonathanHello. I am a litigation lawyer in Toronto. This will be an unusual e-mail.

I understand CIPPIC has taken your case. I just wanted to let you know I would have donated time, if you didn't have CIPPIC already doing so. I have represented a number of clients faced with bogus lawsuits recently, so I understand your plight. To put it succinctly, this type of litigation bothers me.

Best of luck.

Yours,
Jonathan

JonathanThis is outrageous. The service that you are providing is useful. Post Canada's expensive fees for their database mean that only well established businesses can buy the data. Open Data initiatives typically can't afford this kind of expense and provide value to the public. And while they cut funds everywhere and make life more and more difficult for mailmen/mailwomen, they can dish out tons of money to highly paid legal firms. Some administrators should be fired and the contract with the law firm resiliated. Some people clearly abused their power.

Good luck in court and end this quickly before they squander even more money.

JoneZI'm in the research phase of building a network of sites that require the postal code information of the members to customize their searches/data for them.

I was looking at using the GeoNames database to compare Lat/Lon to postal codes and ranges for the system and they mention that they only have partial Canadian postal codes in their DB for copyright reasons.

Thinking it was a joke I wasn't in on, I Googled it. Holy *&!#* it isn't a joke.

I hope you guys get through this successfully because this has to be the biggest pileup of stupidity I've ever heard of and we can do some pretty dumb stuff here in the U.S.

Joshua W.Hey guys/girls

I just wanted to say I support your fight for free data!

It's absolute garbage that Canada post thinks it should be able to lay copyright on such a thing like Postal Codes.
Secondly, the fact that a tax payer subsidized crown corporation charge its citizens $5000 in the first place for something that should be free is ludicris. Canada is light years behind on the technology front and its because of our government and crown corporations withholding data that Canadians should be able to publicly access to further our technological development. Companies like you make the giant steps in our technological front and after you guys take all the risk and show what cool things can be done with the data, that's when companies like Canadapost ready the lawyers. It's absolute BS.

So thanks again for fighting the good fight. When I am able to donate, you can rest assured I will help out.

A fellow programmer,

Joshua W.

Justin WheelerThe simple concept that Canada Post would rather try and sue innovation out of the field rather than stop being one of Canada's most backwater, technologically lagging, extortionist organisations is simply absurd.

I'm reminded of the RIAA: they'd rather sue their way back to their unfair monopoly than make their own products and offerings more attractive to their potential clients.

I've donated to geocoder's defense fund. Canada Post's statement of claim is simply absurd.

If there's any other way I can help, let me know.

Justin

LauraShame on Canada Post!

Martin[2013-10-06:] Unbelievable. Canadians all pay to rent property from the government of Canada (even if you own your dwelling, you're still technically renting from the government by paying property taxes each year). That postal code should then be property of the owner of the land it is associated to. It is in the interest of that property owner to be geolocated on service websites, ie. Google Maps, so that they receive the services that come with owning a property in a civilized neighborhood and country (ie. navigation instructions). For Canada Post to lay claim to "postal codes" is absolutely absurd as to what we know about property law. It is also unthinkable that there is no free alternative, ie. Canadian zip codes, that can be used in lieu of "postal codes" (TM). Moving forward, we either force the government to acknowledge Canadians require free access to their own address data, or we force the government to create a free alternative address set, ie. zip codes, that are not patented or copyrighted. But as a civilized nation, expecting any less would be a failure to provide essential service by our Canadian Government.

Martin[2013-10-06:] Unbelievable. Canadians all pay to rent property from the government of Canada (even if you own your dwelling, you're still technically renting from the government by paying property taxes each year). That postal code should then be property of the owner of the land it is associated to. It is in the interest of that property owner to be geolocated on service websites, ie. Google Maps, so that they receive the services that come with owning a property in a civilized neighborhood and country (ie. navigation instructions). For Canada Post to lay claim to "postal codes" is absolutely absurd as to what we know about property law. It is also unthinkable that there is no free alternative, ie. Canadian zip codes, that can be used in lieu of "postal codes" (TM). Moving forward, we either force the government to acknowledge Canadians require free access to their own address data, or we force the government to create a free alternative address set, ie. zip codes, that are not patented or copyrighted. But as a civilized nation, expecting any less would be a failure to provide essential service by our Canadian Government.

Martin HamelI have to buy zip code data base, I just spoke with CP today about their corporate fees, I did underline to the about to compare with other companies fees witch are lower and they reveiled to me that even use other softwares to build their own data base and products as you do. Good luck with the law suite.....you have my support

matt...in short: don't let the bastards get you down!

Please think about adding Flattr for accepting donations
(https://flattr.com/) I like it better than Paypal and will gladly be
your first subscriber. (I'll donate either way).

best regards from Tatchun Road, Whitehorse, Yukon. Y1A 3N9.

--
-matt

Mike W.Suing a company for providing a crowd-sourced list of publicly available data is absolutely absurd. Postal code data should be public domain. Postal codes are simply a tool used for routing, like telephone numbers or internet protocol. If you were going to enforce "copyright" you should have done it long ago. Besides, Canada Post is a crown corp. If ANYONE owns that data it's taxpayers.

I understand what they're upset about. They're charging boat-loads of money licensing that data, and I'm 100% cool with that. But what Geocoder offers is crowd-sourced data which, according to the Merriam-Webster, is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contributions from a large group of people, and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. THAT is the difference. The Geocoder data is not guaranteed to be legit or actively updated -- it is provided as-is. What Canada Post can provide as a premium service is postal code / geocoding data a "first-party vendor" with guarantees about data quality and updates. Businesses will pay that guarantee. I know, I've implemented systems that DO pay those fees because they are a drop in the bucket when accuracy matters.

Don't be stupid, Canada Post. You're in the business of delivering the mail, not selling marketing data. Don't use government money to sue small-time companies for offering a free alternative to your overprices services. There is so much wrong with that, I won't even begin to point out the flaws.

Give your heads a shake.


MitchI sent an enquiry to Michael Geist - he's often where I hear of things - hopefully he will take an interest and spread the word. I've seen a lot of comments below I echo - there is something fundamentally wrong in Canada when crown corporations and public service bodies are allow to waste our money (taxes) suing for things they do not really own but in theory manage for the good of the people.

They have forgotten their place and need to be put down / stripped of some of their might.

oh canadahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postal_code

Interesting read, support for you during this case!

PeterThis lawsuit is totally ridiculous, Canada post is simply another greedy and power hungry corporation that just wants to make money and keep their monopoly. Hopefully this will end sooner then later. I hope for the sake of everyone else you win this battle, who needs another bell or rogers around. Competition is great, not so great for selfish brainless (most Canada post employees are uneducated and got their job via connection) overpaid Canada post corporation

randall micucciMaybe someone should check to see if the Canada Post Act allows for CPC to run Comparison Shopper and Canada Post Vault service.

Randall MurphyPostal codes should be exempt from any cliam of infringement as copyright Copyright is restricted to the expression in a fixed manner (text, recording, drawing) of an idea; it does not extend to the idea itself, systems, or factual information conveyed in the work. Items that are not protected by copyright include:

Names or slogans
Short phrases and most titles
Methods, such as a method of teaching or sculpting, etc.
Plots or characters
Factual information

Particularly the last item ( Factual information ) is not a form of "expression"; rather it is an alphanumeric coding system. If copyright were allowed for such things then every time we use a calculator or relational database the answer would be copyrightable by the company that made the calculator or database software.

Another issue is that of Fair Dealing: Is it for research, private study, criticism, review or news reporting? These are allowable purposes and should not be given a restrictive interpretation or it could result in the undue restriction of users' rights. I as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer ( and user )should be given free access to this information and all you have done is provide it. Canada Posts lawsuit against you is in my view an infringement of my user's rights. If I were you I'd make a petition on this point.

** Every Canadian should have free access to this information, we paid for it through our taxes and restricting it to Canada Post only is restricting every Canadian's user's rights!

Ultimately this lawsuit is just frivolous bureaucratic harrassment and should be thrown out before it goes anyplace at all. You should also get reimbursed all expenses.

Richard MarierI think you should make anyone using postal code aware of this, like every gps manufacturer and all.... I will write to my local deputy about this ridiculous usage of our tax money!
--
Sent from my Android phone with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.

RobWish you all the best in fighting Canada Post’s inane lawsuit. Just contributed to your legal fund.

Ryan Chapmanwork together and collaborate

Ryan O'Farrell(transcript)

December 14, 2012

Ms. Michelle Rempel
105-1318 Centre Street NE
Calgary, AB
Canada T2E 2R7

The Canada Post Monopoly On Taxpayer-Funded Data

Dear Ms. Rempel,

How would you feel if you and your family were out for dinner, and upon receiving the bill, found you were charged:

$60 for the meal
$60 for kitchen services
$60 for staff expenses
$60 for licensing fees related to copyrights surrounding food arrangement

An outrageous example, right? Wrong!!! It is happening today, with Canada Post and their megalomanical, nefarious and ridiculous approach to suing organizations that compile crowdsourced lists of postal codes.

Geospatial (location) data is valuable and important to technical innovation. One aspect of geospatial data is the humble postal code, a concept imported by Canada Post from Great Britain in the 1970s. A postal code is a simple and convenient tag that identifies a location down to roughly a civic block. Taxpayers have funded the compilation, management, and maintenance of this system for forty years. The resultant data should clearly and unequivocally be in the public domain.

And yet we find that Canada Post, an agency that seems to operate as an independent sovereign entity, is now suing (with Canadian taxpayer funds) organizations that attempt to publish (for free) this (indisputably public) data:

http://geocoder.ca/?checkout=ornot&sued=1#updates

This is nuts. This is corporate malfeasance. This is bullying. This is a so-called crown corporation abusing its mandate and resisting innovation in order to protect the status quo.

I work for an IT consultancy firm in Calgary. Every day we have the chance to innovate, to develop cutting-edge technology, and to pursue worldwide markets with our achievements. We are a relatively small player, but with big ideas and big talent. We find Canada Post's non-negotiable licensing arrangement -- to acquire postal code data already paid for by myself and fellow taxpayers -- onerous and anti-competitive, not to mention offensive.

Name one other developed nation that refuses to freely release this type of data to its entrepreneur-citizens. There isn't one.

Identify how this action aligns, in spirit or in principle, with the Conservative Party's Open Data Initiative? It doesn't.

And kindly advise how you intend to raise this issue in the House, and bring about the kind of change that Canada's entrepreneurs, inventors, academics, and technology creatives duly deserve.

Scott S-AllenWhile I don't view any of this process positively, the lawyers always win no matter the side of the case. Still I read with some amusement the PR notice on Canada Post's website.

Quite frankly data quality is a huge issue and no argument against will be uttered by me. However, like our current political leadership CPost are not talking to the copyright issue but to their revenue problem.

Specifically I speak to their emphasis on reliability of geocoded information in relation to delivery of services. It is in their best interest to have top quality information, sure, but they do not rely on GeoCoder.ca data for those purposes.

There are two sides to the delivery issue, the primary is the core services they provide. Regardless of GeoCoder.ca's activities, this core business and its integrity is purely and entirely within their domain. The fact that every competing parcel-delivery uses Postal Codes and associated geocoded information has to be the most ironic circumstances of all (letters are, or were at when I took business law courses), legally bound to be delivered by CP).

The other side see is for those organizations using postal codes to make geographic decisions i.e. deciding where to forward their (annoying) marketing materials, or maybe the census correlating data.

In both examples, door-stop accuracy is not critical; anything requiring that level of accuracy for physical delivery contracted to Canada Post or courier services.

The census by Stats Canada is, I'm sure, a shoe-in for procuring data directly from Canada Post as data integrity is paramount. Others in this same category will be emergency services and other large service-oriented companies such as telecoms, etc. I'm confident none of them will be undermined by a crowd-sourcing project. Emergency services will be using programmed GPS devices, though likely tied into land registry and reverse-matched to postal codes.

So, that leaves the commercial marketing example as the probable area of greatest vulnerability. Accuracy, as mentioned, is not critical for those kinds of decisions. But that isn't the full part of the equation my a mile.

Demographic data is needed in order to properly target marketing materials on a regional basis, ones that actually need geocoded information (Ma & Pa Pizza do proximity advertising, not regionally targeted campaigns).

So, again, this is not an area that GeoCoder.ca is a problem for -- at least I've not noticed any demographics floating about on the site.

I'm well aware there are many more uses for this kind of information. A batch of it is research, not a major revenue stream I'm sure. Another batch is possibly other service oriented companies such as lawn care, renovation and delivery i.e. pizza, et al. Between Google/Bing/MapQuest and the GPS manufacturers there is little opportunity to further erode CP's geolocation business.

In my case, I'm a software developer. I have a project requiring short-term location data for testing purposes. Indeed I need so much of it that I could probably gather enough just driving my car for 10 minutes with my $50 (used) GPS that has been idle for a year.

That wasn't necessary as initially I was polling Google. As things progressed a few quick searches led me to a few large, moderately accurate, tables of data. Accuracy seems to be about 500m, which is probably good enough for some.

At the end of the project, when it goes live, it will be completely maintained by the client. They will be gathering their own location information over time as they are required to be at each location a multiple of times and desire effectively "door-knob" locations (well, as good as GPS can deliver). The association of postal codes with that information is a pure convenience as plan/block/lot, M/R/T/S/Q, etc., is their stock 'n trade.

From my perspective, to pony-up the license fee for CP was an unnecessary waste of client resources. It is not useful for their purposes and even if they did need prior knowledge, an ability to poll online sources for low-cost or free is abundantly available and more than suitable from a seed perspective i.e. get them close enough to quickly find on a map for their first visit.

Unlikely, but hopefully something amongst my drivel will be encouraging and possibly constructive or useful.

Best wishes for successfully overcoming this obstacle,

Scott
2012-05-18

Scott S-AllenI neglected to mention that Canada Post Corp came to being as a private-ish enterprise in 1981, the initial postal-code implementation was 10 years earlier.

Through a government supported monopoly, in some ways for valid reasons, the organization has been central to our nations success.

Essentially, the present corporation could not found today with expectations of obtaining its present position through good business practices alone. By its very heritage, it has a monopoly that in any other industry would be forbidden to continue operations in such a manner.

I have not looked it up to confirm its present status, but 25 years ago it was illegal for a company to deliver materials that would normally have been delivered by a letter carrier. Our local telephone company used to deliver invoices to our door that were not in envelopes for that very reason. Today it would be a major privacy issue, but that's incidental now.

There are many more details about the heritage of the corporation that are inextricably linked into the fabric of this country. Not through actions of merit, but its status as an essential and protected service.

This, in my opinion, puts their claims of propriety into doubt. Not only does the concept of defined, cataloged and indexed geographic boundaries predate the inception of Canadian Postal Codes, it predates this country and modern Western Culture.

On top of that, my opening statement bases the pre-corporation development of delivery regions/sub-regions into federal, not private, funding. Obviously the other details regarding their integration with each jurisdiction across the country and reliance upon more public funds for those resources i.e. municipalities, etc., is lost in the equation somewhere. In other words, before postal codes, the post office and later Canada Post, relied upon municipal registration data to locate the presumed correct recipient at the prescribed address.

Anther detail I'm sure is lost within their reason, is the actual business case for the original development of postal codes and subsequent geolocation association. Without a doubt, it was purely a sortation and forwarding problem, the same problem that FedEx, et al, had to overcome. This is pre-buisiness-school level of process management. Indeed, basis was originally developed and performed by laymen while volumes were humanly manageable.

I'm confident GeoCoder.ca fully respects the need for Canada Post to generate revenue and carry on its regular operations to the best of its abilities. However, I'm equally confident that sentiment is not reciprocated. So while they are entitled to reasonable cost recovery for the data, even if the public purse was essential to its creation they have little respect for their role in our society. That, not to mention resourceful individuals ability to produce facsimiles through other sources.

Disappointing to say the least.

Oh, it should be noted that CP fought courier firms in the past and lost. So there is hope.

Sorry for the meandering core-dump, I'd normally go back and edit but have run out of time.

Sean ComeauCanada Post cannot hold exclusive rights to mere facts. On those grounds alone it has no legitimate claim against GeoCoder. Canada Post should not even be charging for its database of postal codes.

StewartI've just started using geocoder data to analyse
locations of ham radio operators across Canada. I wouldn't want to be
without it. Thanks for all the good work.

cheers,
Stewart

CP Lawsuit News | Updates | Comments More information on Court number: T-519-12 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.

Sincerely,

Ervin Ruci.

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:

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 .

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.