CIPPIC Acting for Geolytica in Postal Code Database Copyright Lawsuit
UPDATE: Canada Post has agreed to discontinue it's copyright infringement lawsuit against Geolytica. The case involved a claim that Geloytica's use of a crowd-sourced database of postal codes mapped to geographic addresses infringed intellectual property rights Canada Post alleged that it enjoyed in those postal codes.
While the terms of settlement are confidential, the parties have prepared an agreed statement:
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 undoubtedly a good outcome for Geolytica, the settlement leaves unaddressed the legal claims advanced by Canada Post.
CIPPIC has filed a Statement of Defense on behalf of its client, Geolytica, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Canada Post Corporation in the Federal Court of Canada (File No. T-519-12) claiming that it owns copyright in its database of postal codes and that Geolytica has infringed that copyright by "crowd-sourcing" data for its own database of postal codes mapped to street addresses.
The case raises fundamental copyright issues, including the scope of protection afforded compilations of data, the subsistence of copyright in factual address identifiers such as postal codes, and the availability of defenses such as fair dealing to developers of research tools such as Geolytica's Canadian Postal Code Geocoded Dataset. The case will have significant implications for downstream innovators and analysts looking at using datasets for research and to facilitate the research of others.