back to article Royal Mail lawyers demand closure of postcode lookup site

A UK postcode lookup service has been slapped with a cease and desist letter from the Royal Mail, forcing it to close down its website. Until last Friday (2 October) North London-based Ernest Marples Postcodes Ltd had been providing web outfits with an API to power their sites that helped people search for information specific …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What kind of "IP" is this?

    The article could do with a bit more "analysis".

    If the IP in question is a "database right" then it only applies in the EU, I think, so people can offer UK postcode APIs from outside the EU, and the Royal Mail might find it rather difficult to stop people in the EU from using those APIs.

  2. Jolyon Ralph

    Will they go after Google?

    I use Google's map APIs for doing postcode => lat/long lookups. Not sure how accurate it is compared to the postie's database, but it's good enough for my uses.

    Jolyon

  3. Steve X

    Opportunity?

    Postcodes just tie an address to an easily-processed identifier. The fact that the structure of a postcode is actually meaningful in terms of post-town, postman's round, etc. is probably only of interest to the Post Office itself.

    Given that, is there anything to prevent a company like Google from creating their own postcode system using their mapping data? A simple US-style zipcode system should be easy enough to cook up given a detailed map database. Companies that need to correlate their postcode to their googlecode could easily do so themselves and publish that info.

  4. Eponymous Cowherd
    Thumb Down

    Fair enough.

    We should all stop using post codes until the PO sees sense.

    It would have the added advantage that the PO would have to keep all its staff on in order to sort all of that un-postcoded mail.

  5. Lloyd
    Pint

    Ooooh

    The RM are really hot on this, basically if you provide a 3rd party postcode lookup then you have to pay them per hit, from what I could tell of the licensing (and it's been a few years since I read it), because they own the UK postcode system, whether or not you're using their data you still have to pay them (the same applies to OS data, because it uses PAF for addresses).

  6. Kay Tie
    FAIL

    Loses money, not makes it

    "In 2007 the Royal Mail made about £1.6m from licensing the Postcode Address File (PAF) database."

    And how much would the Government have made if the database was freely accessible and companies using it made extra profits and paid a third of that in extra tax. It's such a short-sighted approach (but then, it's government).

  7. Jelliphiish
    WTF?

    hmm

    post codes aren't public domain info? how the hell did the RM swing the ownership on that?

  8. Adam Salisbury
    FAIL

    Call off the lawyers Royal Mail

    That way maybe you wouldn't have to make such sweeping redundancies

  9. Alexander Hanff 1
    FAIL

    The perfect example of stupidity

    First of all Post Codes are NOT intellectual property - what an absolutely ridiculous claim to make - I mean seriously to claim they are intellectual property is about as unintellectual as it gets. Post Codes are basically nothing more than macroscopic indexes which cover a range of entities as opposed to being unique for each entity.

    Furthermore, the Post Code system was created with public money so actually we -all- own them, not Royal freaking Mail and for them to try and hold absolute control over them is a strong reminder of how pathetic the IP argument has become.

    The Post Office should be forced to make the use of post codes free for non profit purposes. Next thing you know they will be charging us royalties for every damn letter we send that we write a postcode on.

    Whomever instructed solicitors to get involved in this really needs to lose their job - it makes me want to setup a postcode site of my own just to get a day in court with the damn fools.

    I personally think anyone who gets a C&D on IP grounds should burn the damn thing and relish a day in court. Demand a jury and use the press to make the whole country see just how ridiculous this entire situation is.

    For a failing company they are doing a very good job of alienating the very people (the public) they need to support them, after this stunt I hope they go bankrupt despite the fact I have family who work for them.

    It is unbelievable - it really is. Common sense seems to have deserted Royal Mail.

    (These are my views and do not represent any organisation I work for)

  10. Steve Loughran

    Yes! Boycott postal codes

    I like the idea of boycotting postcodes. All it does is help the RM to automate delivery and make more staff unemployed. We should return to things like "third on the left after the torched car"

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pirate

    Ooohhhh

    Lawyers invoke State-enforced monopolies to disallow access to State-held information that was created with State-extorted money in the first place?

    When is the Gentlemen of Fortune Party coming to the UK?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Title

    "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,"

    Oh, please. I think sacked postmen just might find sites like jobcentreplus.gov.uk and monster.co.uk *slightly* more useful.

    Look, RM is in dire enough straits as is, at least let them hang on to this. From the article it sounds like the Ernest Maple website is using RM's own assets, without charge, to make money for themselves. Some may think that's fine but I don't, I would quite like RM to survive - it may be shit but it's a damn sight better than what would happen if it went under.

  13. Jimmy Floyd
    Headmaster

    Tenuous

    “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"

    That's such a pitifully tenuous argument that it almost put me on the side of the Royal Mail. It didn't though, because the "public money" justification is a good one, but if you're going to issue a response do try to make it worthwhile.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if....

    ....some of those API providers are hacking the free-for-personal use (15 searches a day) postcode finder on the Royal Mail website?

  15. Bilgepipe

    @Jelliphiish

    "post codes aren't public domain info? how the hell did the RM swing the ownership on that?"

    They created them, therefore they own them. They are certainly not public domain.

  16. jumpyjoe

    Strange name?

    Do I smell a rat? A rat smelling of dirty tricks?

    This company is a new one, created this year and named after the Conservative Postmaster General back in the late 50s. He later became Transport Minister and had to do a moonlight flit (literally) from the country owing 30 years back taxes amongst ofther things. A favourite with some Conserattives because he beat the system (if criminally).

    Too many strange coincidences?

  17. Dave Bell

    Is the data reliable?

    I've known several instances of incorrect postcode location data being out there, including directly from the Post Office and through the JobCentre systems.

    In rural areas, Postcodes may cover large areas, but, because of the structure the Post Office needs, they shouldn't be putting you on the wrong side of a major river, with a twenty mile trip via the nearest bridge.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why not.......

    Trademark your own Postcode and then sue RM for breach ?

  19. Stef 4
    Thumb Up

    @ Huw 3

    "Oh, please. I think sacked postmen just might find sites like jobcentreplus.gov.uk and monster.co.uk *slightly* more useful."

    I think you misread the article. They claimed that jobcentreplus used the postcode api to find work close to the applicant, which has now been made useless. So your statement actually backs the api writers.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Yes! Boycott postal codes #

    Postcodes are not a requirement they just save the PO money I'm all for stopping using them all together. the PO is still required to deliver 1st class post promptly.

    Boycott Post Codes until they are free!

    now where is that No10 petition?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Pint

    @Jolyon Ralph

    "I use Google's map APIs for doing postcode => lat/long lookups"

    And did you know you can also do it the other way around using Google geo-referencing? Seems quite accurate too and works for other countries as well - apart from Republic of Ireland who, apart from the bit around Dublin, appear to still use the ol' "third on the left after the torched potato field" system (thanks Steve Loughran)

    Oh and I agree with anyone who is lambasting RM for this stupid action - yes, that post code info belongs to ALL of us (in the UK anyway).

  22. jmdh

    Alternatives

    If you would like to see a more usable unencumbered free postcode source, have a look at http://www.freethepostcode.org/ and http://www.npemap.org.uk/. We haven't yet been issued with a take-down notice, but perhaps that's because we make our collection processes open.

    Yes, it's a very small subset of postcodes at the moment, and the accuracy is being worked on, but for many applications our data might be useful.

  23. Neal 5

    @ Alexander Hanff 1

    "The Post Office should be forced to make the use of post codes free for non profit purposes. Next thing you know they will be charging us royalties for every damn letter we send that we write a postcode on."

    What do you think a stamp is then, could you personally deliver a letter from one end of the country to the other, for the price of a stamp, and make enough profit to make a living?

  24. Gordon is not a Moron
    Joke

    Re : Alexander Hanff 1

    "Next thing you know they will be charging us royalties for every damn letter we send that we write a postcode on."

    They all ready do, it's called a stamp

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    The Postcode system should be binned

    in favour of the more common, throughout Europe, of 8 numericals. As even putting a postcode on seems to be pointless as the system stills struggles to recocongise the subtle differences between to postcodes that share the same first letter and differ on the second. Many a time my mail has shot to the other end of the country becasuse of this.

    Also validating correct Postcode inputs in database is a pain in the arse leading to more wrongly addresses letters. Come on 8 numbers please.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Duhh...

    So Royal Mail make £1.6M from Postcodes. That would be £1.6M for the shareholders. Who are they? Ah. Government. The public. Hmm.

    Postcomm regulates Royal Mail and limit profits on postcodes. It's not a license to print money. Royal Mail have to maintain the database and the infrastructure it runs on, pay the people who look after it and all the other costs associated with it. So, give it away for free for others to make money from it and how then would it be paid for? Some people just don't see a good deal when it's right in front of them.

  27. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Can I have your postocde please?

    Sorry I dont own that information - I cant tell you.

  28. Timbo99
    Welcome

    It's a bit like...

    It's a bit like local councils retaining house street numbers as IP.

    There's something now quite right with this.

  29. Michael Shaw
    Alien

    Once upon a time...

    Hang on a sec, i cna remember a campagn many years ago to get people to use postcodes on addresses. The slogan was "your not properly addressed without it".

    Now, if they wish to claim intelectual property rights on the postcode, i have several questions to raise, when does the rights expire? and when are they going to issue every person in the world a license to use Postcode data so that we can legally put in an address on my contacts list in outlook and send them a letter?

  30. Alexander Hanff 1
    Happy

    @ Neal

    No, the stamp is used to pay for the cost of collecting/sorting and delivering the mail - it is nothing to do with the postcode nor is it a royalty for postcodes. Whether you use a postcode or not you still have to use a stamp.

    I think you will probably also find that the origin of the stamp was to give crown protection to mail - it is a royal mark; and that stamps were around a LONG time before postcodes were introduced.

  31. Daniel Hutty
    Thumb Down

    @why not.....

    Because if they have IP on *all* postcodes, then they have "prior art" on your postcode, so you couldn't trademark it in the first place?

  32. Anomalous Cowherd Silver badge

    Interesting equation

    I wonder what delivering mail addressed with an incorrect postcode costs the Royal Mail each year? I'll wager it's a bit more than £1.6M.

  33. RMartin

    No sympathy

    @Alexander Hanff: the Postcode system is a lot more complex than you make out, and is actually a huge undertaking requiring hundreds of thousands of updates per year at great cost. RM invented it and develops it, so why shouldn't they derive profit from it? If anything in this day and age we should be applauding a nationalised company that consistently makes a profit instead of costing the taxpayer billions and billions.

  34. SPiT
    Grenade

    Its not the postcodes

    that they are objecting to. They are public information but the site is issuing map references for the postcodes. Royal Mail are essentially claiming this map reference data is from their database and therefore is subject to copyright. If the data is derived from their database then the take down is perfectly legitimate.

    And all the twaddle about postcodes that everyone is posting is total bollocks

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Disgraceful!!!

    The PO badly needs to be legally challenged on this issue; postcode data belongs to all of us, it was developed using our taxes and could not be more 'public domain' in nature!

    The Post Office should be forced to inovate if it wants to make cash from this technology, by designing and offering novel and useful services and technologies which utilise the data, rather than trolling it in the WORST possible way.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not a great loss

    Healthwhere is duplicating one of the services provided by the NHS choices online.

    Job Centre Pro Plus is taking its data from jobcentre.gov.uk "snaffled" is the website's choice of words

  37. Michael 77
    Paris Hilton

    Whose IP?

    Just a moment ... RM have my address in their database?

    But that's my IP!

    Lawyer!!!! Where are you?!

    Paris, because she's anyone's IP.

  38. Oz
    Headmaster

    Only £1.6M

    £1.6M doesn't seem very much when you think that a corporate licence costs £75K. I'm sure that RM could do better with a little more marketing....

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. My Alter Ego
    Thumb Down

    @The Postcode system should be binned

    What a load of shite. UK postcodes are a tad harder to validate, but there are plenty of regular expressions out there that do the job. Once you've got the correct regex, it's not much harder than validating against a 5 digit integer.

    Also, UK postcodes are far more accurate than continental ones (apart some of those in remote areas). When I looked up my uncle's postcode in Germany, it gave the location of it 6km away from his house. It's in a fairly large military town, not in some remote mountainous region.

    Is it possible that your post is being delivered to the wrong part of the country simple because your handwriting is undecipherable?

  41. Nuke
    Thumb Up

    @Neal5 @ Alexander Hanff 1

    Neal5 : "What do you think a stamp is then, could you personally deliver a letter from one end of the country to the other, for the price of a stamp, and make enough profit to make a living?"

    Yes. I admit I would take in van loads like RM do, not singly as you imply. Nice little earner.

    It's like I read it costs c£30,000 pa to maintain each railway level crossing. You could keep a skilled fitter stood by each one for 2 days a week for that, even allowing for occasional spares. But have you ever even SEEN anyone maintaining a level crossing? I never have, so they must need very little maintenance. I'd like to maintain a dozen please, at that price.

  42. Neal 5

    @Alexander Hanff reposte 2

    You've just killed your original posting with that. So will the real Alexander Hanff please stand up.

    You've answered in a manner that suggest only that bulk postings pay, so I would indeed appreciate your reply to why "junk" mail postings are fractional costing to a singular letter, not in the fashion that bulk mailing needs to be subsidised, but to explain to me , a second class stamp is the price it is, and a "junk" mail posting is less than half that price. They get collected, sorted and delivered in exactly the same way.

    And yes, it's business, which again negates your first posting.

  43. Grease Monkey

    @Jolyon Ralph

    Many sites, presumably including Google, pay the RM a licence fee for the PAF. Since Ernest Marples (wasn't he the transport minister in the sixties?) claim not to have a copy of the PAF or anything in cache then I'd guess that what they are actually doing is somehow using somebody else's PAF access. It could be that they are scraping from somebody else's site.

    The idea that this information should be available free is sound, if only for personal use, but that isn't a problem becuase it's freely available from the Royal Mail's own website.

  44. Grozbat
    FAIL

    Poppycock

    @Duhh..., your argument about RM having to pay the costs to administrate the Post Code database doesn't hold water.

    The whole database is there to make the postal service more efficient and thereby reduce operational costs for RM.

    If the post code database doesn't pay for itself through operational efficiencies, then there is no point in it.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    RE:

    "And how much would the Government have made if the database was freely accessible and companies using it made extra profits and paid a third of that in extra tax. It's such a short-sighted approach (but then, it's government)."

    To be honest, I strongly doubt it'd be £1.6 million, but I remain to be convinced if anyone has actual data.

    Ultimately if this data becomes free then the taxpayer will have to bail Royal Mail out for an extra £1.6 million every year. The question is would this make the taxpayer £1.6m+ in extra revenue? And yes, since they demand changes it is up to those who call for the info to be freed to demonstrate it.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Oh noes!

    I have a database of my customers addresses. Including postcode.

    I shall delete it at once, and find another way of contacting them other than mail....

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Oh crap!

    I've got an address book sitting on the side at home, im done for if royal mail find out!

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Use the free UK postcode DB

    Why don't companies just use the Wikileaks full UK postcode database? It must be legit cos it's free on the Internet.

    http://wikileaks.org/wiki/UK_government_database_of_all_1,841,177_post_codes_together_with_precise_geographic_coordinates_and_other_information,_8_Jul_2009

  49. AchimR

    @My alter Ego (not my own, of course)

    That is because in Germany postcodes aren't specific to one house / block of houses, but to a larger area. My hometown of about 110k citizens has 4 postcodes (after the switch to the newer postcodes 1st July 1993, prior to that it was just one), other places more / less depending on size.

    And, compared to the system here, or at least Royal Fail's execution of it, it works perfectly well.

    I never had a letter in my mailbox for a different name/street/post code.

    The amount of times I have received a letter here for a completely different post code / city but same street, or also same street / city with slightly different post code went so high, I stopped counting after a few months.

    Generally I'm in favour of privatising Royal Fail. I absolutely hate them, caused me enough troubles already. Still, at least having some fun out of it, when I think that some of the mail they've stocked up in piles now due to their strikes smell like dead locusts which I never received for my pet. Bunch of Twats

  50. Chimaera
    Stop

    Oh the drama

    To be fair Royal Mail was privatised, we can't expect former public companies to make a profit whilst demanding that they hand over anything that could make them money for free.

    I believe it is much cheaper if you only want to locate a postcode region e.g. KT1, there are many databases that provide that for not much cash, but if you want to localise down to the full postcode then it costs more.

    Oh and for the commenter who mentioned that local authorities should charge for the street numbering...you're actually not far from the truth, i think it was mentioned during negotations with royal mail when they tried to charge local councils for address searches.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Neal 5

    'Junk' mail actually gets sorted in a selection of different ways. The true junk mail, addressed to "homeowner" or whatever, isn't sorted at all - its delivered to every house, which means its the cheapest rate. For mailshots which are actually addressed, the discount is because companies mailsort it themselves - http://www.royalmail.com/portal/rm/jump2?catId=400047&mediaId=4700005 (or google Mailsort 120) has the details if you're interested, and the maximum discount is 30% off. That seems pretty reasonable to me - if 90%+ of the letters you're sending out are guaranteed correctly addressed and are already in a bag that can be sent straight to the local postie, and one pickup from your business gets them 1000s of paid-for letters, why shouldn't you get a good discount?

    As for the postcode data being free to use, I can see the arguments from both sides. While it would be an incredibly useful resource for many businesses, especially startups, it does take a lot of maintaining, which costs money, which has to come from somewhere. It is one of the many things that should be handled by the government rather than a privatised company, but that'd be even more of a shambles if the government actually got involved.

  52. ElectricOwl
    Stop

    Time to re-nationalise the Post Office methinks.

    There was a time when the Post Office was owned by the people and it was probably about the time the postcode system was introduced. I vote for a re-nationalisation of the jolly old Post Office and then we can can go back to free data and national strikes.. oh, isn't there a strike going on somewhere?

  53. Martin 6 Silver badge

    @No sympathy

    So does the DNS system.

    How about paying Nominet 80quid/year to be able to type theregister.co.uk instead of having to remember 72.3.246.59 ?

  54. Paul M.
    Thumb Up

    Here come the Twitter idiots

    Type your comment here — plain text only, no HTML

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Royal Fail

    Seriously what is the difference between Post Codes and TV-Listings? TV Listings were deregulated in 1991 it's about time Post Codes were too!

  56. Sarah Davis
    FAIL

    typical

    The P.O. is a bad service that just gets worse and worse.

    I remember when you could go into a PO and buy a stamp or send a parcel without the (now obligatory) half hour que.

    I remember when post was delivered (rather usefully) before I left for work,... actually, I remember when post was delivered!

    Thank god for alternatives otherwise this country would be phuqed.

  57. Gaz Davidson
    Go

    Please help free the postcodes!

    Does anyone here own a significant database of businesses, such as a business directory, which was created by users?

    If so, if you could somehow give me access to your addresses (no business name or house number, just street name to postal code), I'll import this data into OpenStreetMap.org by matching the road names and tagging them with the correct postal code, then use the waypoint data to get the average GPS locations of the postal codes too, possibly even importing that back into Free The Postcode! (if they accept the CC license)

    Your business will be cited as a source in OpenStreetMap's database, if that provides some incentive. Even if it's only a small database, it could be used as a proof of concept for a free import process.

    If we all work together, we can free those postcodes. If you think you can help then please get in touch, you can contact me gaz at bitplane dot net.

  58. Andy Livingstone

    Quick Poll

    Question 1 - Will anyone who has a good word to say about Royal Mail or The Post Office please make themselves known.

    Question 2 - When you remove the tick from "Remember Me" ob this site, does it?

  59. Grease Monkey

    Lots of stuff

    1. "As even putting a postcode on seems to be pointless as the system stills struggles to recocongise the subtle differences between to postcodes that share the same first letter and differ on the second. Many a time my mail has shot to the other end of the country becasuse of this"

    Since when? I've never known this happen. I have however known lots of people write the wrong postcode on letters, but they still get there if a little delayed. For example I have a WF postcode, some eejit in Watford used to frequently write WD on my letters (presumably force of habit) but at some point in the system some postied would scratch the postcode and

    The beauty of the postcode system is that it is structured so that the post can be sorted to suit the posty's walked rounds. Does the 8 digit system give you this. Bear in mind that everything other than those last two letters can take you down to a postal route and makes some sort of sense to a human being. A simple sequence number would not make sense to the human brain.

    2. A lot of people seem to be concentrating on geographic coordinates, but these are not the same as the address. If you want the address for a given postcode or you want the postcode for a given address what use are lat and long? You can't post a letter to those coordinates. If you want to navigate to an address or post code sat navs and the likes of google maps can do it without both. Furthemore if you put my postcode into several such systems it will plonk you on the road that runs behind my house. Not a whole lot of use when you're posting a letter.

    3. I'm getting very bored with people (hopefully) deliberately misunderstanding these strories. Having postcodes against addresses in your address book or customer list is not something the RM have a problem with. Far from it, they like it, it makes their jobs easier. What they do have a problem with is people making money from postcode searches. Just because a website offers postcode searches for free that doesn't mean it isn't making money from them. Use free postcode searches to attract people to your site and then reap revenue by advertising on the site. Or you could even charge for the service. There has to be a revenue stream or you wouldn't do it. If somebody wants to make money from postcode searches then there's no reason they shouldn't pay for access to the PAF. After all if somebody is making money from postcode address searches then they are effectively making on the back of the public purse.

  60. Jan 13

    Stop ranting, start delivering!

    If you have a GPS device, you could be delivering postcodes to freethepostcode.org whenever you're out and have an idle moment. Just read a postcode from: signs on buildings or promotional literature, then capture and send in the latitude and longitude. I do it with "iFreeThepostcode" on an iPhone, there's "freethepostcode" for Android phones and "Free The postcode" for Windows Mobile.

    Or you can take the GPS home and transfer coordinates directly using http://freethepostcode.org/

  61. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    It makes sense...

    These two clowns created a business of hitting the UK's post office for postal code look ups.

    This means that every time you hit one of their sites, they're hitting someone else's database causing a lot of traffic and 'cost' that is not a benefit of the post office or the customers using their site.

    So the UK post office is correct in shutting this shitheads down.

    With respect to Google or your other map companies, they maintain their own database of postal codes. (By this I mean addresses.)

    I could go in to more detail of the algo used, but I might get shot. ;-)

    The point is that if these two morons used their own database then the post office wouldn't have shut them down.

  62. Inachu
    Unhappy

    Oh no!!!! The USA is also doomed!

    DO NOT USE ZIPCODES or the USA GOVT will claim IP rights on any website!

    Oh no!

    The royal mail service are royally messed up in the head.

    I think they have been drinking too much koolaid.

  63. Andy Gates
    Thumb Up

    Postcodes ARE public

    Postcodes ARE public, it's just the database that isn't. There's nothing to stop you getting all your mates to tell you their postcodes and addresses and drawing up a whole new database.

    It's already being done, at www.freethepostcode.org, a spinoff of openstreetmap.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Well done Royal Mail!

    Yes the post code system was developed with public money and is maintained with public money too. Should it be free for all and sundry? Hell No! Pay for it you freetards. It was paid for with my Tax pounds and I want a good return on it. So if any company or country wants to use what my money has paid for and make money on it, for which I'll not see a bloody penny. NO! On the same basis should the BBC allow it programs to viewed by the planet? NO Again my money, my license fee, pay up!

    btw, google don't like post codes, too many errors. google likes street names.

  65. phoenix
    Unhappy

    @My Alter Ego @Grease Monkey

    Thank you AchimR for making the point clear that it works perfectly well as attested.

    When I send mail to Germany as opposed to receive (all typed not hand written in the right place) there is a two day differential between the two ie mail gets to German addresses quicker than the other way round. Go figure.

    @ Alter Ego Sorry typed not handwritten so not my poor handwritting.

    @Grease Monkey 1 The post in question was typed again - so no excuse unless a human was involved. It 's just never happened to you. Why on earth would I bother to mention it if it did not happen and more than once.

    We will just have to agree to disagree. I was only making an observation based on my experiences.

  66. Neil B
    Thumb Up

    WTF

    And I thought The Reg attracted a savvy readership? The RM should shut these idiots down, and hard.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Sarah Davis

    "I remember when post was delivered (rather usefully) before I left for work,... actually, I remember when post was delivered!"

    Funny that. Ordered something from Amazon on sunday am. Delivered by RM monday am. Sounds like a pretty good service to me.

    When often when ordering online I have to deal with delyed deliveries and the exuse given is usually "lost in the post". We're all so used to hearing this that we simply accept it. But try asking for proof of postage from anybody who spouts this excuse and see what happens. Most recently a proof of postage emailed to me had the date mysteriously smudged, but commonly the sender will offer to "chase up the post office" for me and then mysteriously the package will arrive the next day and the post mark will usually reveal that the item was posted after my angry email was sent. Funny that init?

  68. mark 63 Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    i agree

    Alexander Hanff 1

    right on!

  69. ratfox Silver badge
    WTF?

    IP??

    How can it be IP? Aren't people allowed to give their address with a postcode? Aren't other mail companies allowed to use postcodes? If they have to depend on that million £ to survive, they're screwed...

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @ @Sarah Davis

    "Funny that. Ordered something from Amazon on sunday am. Delivered by RM monday am. Sounds like a pretty good service to me."

    You're just making stuff up aren't you? Unless of course you mean the following Monday.

  71. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    What earthly danger or monetary loss to the Post Office is posed by someone being able to find a postcode to, oooh I dunno, put on an effing parcel at Xmas?

    Azathoth on a bike, someone needs a good thump in the IQ nodes here.

    Here's a revolutionary thought? Why not simply copyleft the bloody postcode idea and let anyone distribute it providing they do so a) without cost and 2) accurately.

    Or maybe I'm the one with a faulty brain and just don't see an obvious screaming threat to National Security posed by this service?

  72. richardk
    Happy

    Try buying this data legally

    Just try buying the postzon database to run on your own site. I thought microsofts licencing was complicated but this is even worse. And if you want to host this data as a web service it is nearly impossible especially if you just want the data and not purchase a software package from one of their PAF retailers

    Time for Royal Mail to make licencing this data easy and more transparent.

  73. dr_forrester
    WTF?

    Wait, what???

    OK, I give up. Wouldn't that be like the phone company trying to claim that a phone directory is their IP? It's just like any factual data - the format is IP, the data is not. The fact that RM made up the codes in a non-arbitrary fashion does not give them IP rights on it. The US 5+4 digit ZIP code is also non-arbitrary (at least in the first 2 digits, and the second 3 are semi-arbitrary), but they're public domain. Of course, the US also has a law that ANY work by a government official in the performance of his/her/its duties is automatically public domain, but still, this is common sense here, people.

  74. Gaz Davidson
    Thumb Down

    @dr_forrester

    See database rights:

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

  75. Tom Chiverton 1

    sign on the dotted line

    http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/nfppostcodes/

  76. Paul Berry
    FAIL

    Conceptual failure?

    Using a postcode as good-enough shorthand for a geographcial point? It should be considered a fail. Postcodes are used to route mail, not find directions to a point. I can see why this has happened but overloading the meaning of a code with concepts it was never intended for is bound to cause trouble. Unfortunately the concept of a postcode as a geographical entity is so ingrained even the government routinely make this mistake.

    I'm on my own with this one, aren't I?

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