Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Royal Mail uses legal threats to shut down service that provided postcode lookups to charities and nonprofits

Royal Mail uses legal threats to shut down service that provided postcode lookups to charities and nonprofits: "

Glyn sez, 'The Royal Mail has sent a 'cease and desist' letter to ErnestMarples.com, a website that provides a post code API allowing social projects to perform post code lookups [ed: due to the bonkers British law on database copyrights, the record of which post-code corresponds to which address is privately owned, though it was developed a public expense; the public can only use the database it paid for if it pays again for a license from the Royal Mail]. Amongst the many non-profit services that face closure today is Job Centre Pro Plus, which allows you to find jobs near you. Royal Mail is currently looking to reduce its workforce of 121,000 postal workers.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group adds, 'It's outrageous that Royal Mail should be sacking workers and at the same time trying to close a service that might help them find work. Post codes were created with public money, so they need to be used for the widest public benefit. Ernest Marples have been showing how this can be done. Their ideas need to be legalised for non-profit use, not shut down. Intellectual property rules need to work for society, and not the other way round. An amicable solution to allow non-commercial use of post code data would be easy to create, via a key given only to non-profit organisations. Clearly, something that allows greater use of post codes is needed right now. Better access to information means more social and democratic benefits.

On Friday the 2nd October we received correspondence from the Royal Mail demanding that we close this site down (see below). One of the directors of Ernest Marples Postcodes Ltd has also been threatened personally.

We are not in a position to mount an effective legal challenge against the Royal Mail's demands and therefore have closed the ErnestMarples.com API effective immediately.

We understand that this will cause harm and considerable inconvenience to the many people who are using or intend to use the API to power socially useful tools, such as HealthWhere, JobcentreProPlus.com and PlanningAlerts.com. For this, we apologise unreservedly.

Ernest Marples Postcodes has been threatened by the Royal Mail

Royal Mail: closing job search over data dispute while sacking workers

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