An MP that actually seems to understand the arguements for something relating to the internet.
Tom Watson MP has fired off a letter of complaint to the Royal Mail Group, in which he grumbles that the UK postal service’s legal action against a two-man operated postcode lookup site was a "heavy handed" and "deeply regrettable" move. The Labour politician and ex-government minister for digital engagement asked the Royal …
Not entirely sure what the fuss is about - The Royal Mail (which last I looked is state owned) is trying to prevent unauthorised used of something created through the use of public funds.
If they weren't taking such action, I'm sure other people would be chastising them for *not* trying to stop unauthorised used of something created with public funds...
Shouldn't we be pleased that a publically owned organisation is trying to make a profit?
"Meanwhile, campaigners have started a online petition"
You can't sign the petition without giving your postcode.
I think this should go further and allow for profitable use of the PAF as well, Royal Mail should be forced to inovate just like this company if they want to make money off the PAF, rather than trolling it for a measley 1.6M / year in licensing fees.
Maybe Mr Tom Watson MP might (pure conjecture) have had something to do with the government 's Job Site Plus using this illegal-under-royal-mail's-EULA/terms-and-conditions, in his capacity as 'minister for digital engagement '. If this were the case, coming out on royal mail's side might be a tad embarrassing.
So you think it would be fine for me to go and sell a premium rate phone line for:
"Unique personal assistance of any kind, even if your house is burning or your leg is chopped off, well help!"
... that in fact just forwards the call to 999...? We've paid for the police as taxpayers, why cant someone else make a bit of profit off it eh? The police don't like someone else charging to block their switchboards, oh noes!?
Everyone, get on OpenStreetMap.org now, click the edit tab and attach a postcode tag to your road. Then go to freethepostcode.org and add your postcode to that map too.
Finally, if you own a business directory made by users, please get in touch with me. I'd like to extract those postcodes and inject them into OSM for the good of future generations.
gaz at bitplane dot net
Just because you own something, doesn't meant that it doesn't have running costs. We might well collectively own the highways, but we still pay taxes to keep them maintained. We own the Royal Mail, but we still pay for stamps.
There is some people around with no idea of economics. The Royal Mail is in enough financial trouble without being forced to give away more income.
In this case, Tom Watson is being a populist idiot. The lookup service is free for private individuals - if businesses get value out of it, then I see no reason why they shouldn't contribute to the costs of producing the system. Do we just want those costs added onto the price of a stamp?
It is kind of amusing that non-UK companies can make money licensing and reselling UK postcodes to UK websites.
If there's no public list of postcodes, is it possible to compile a public list of addresses?
And if so, then can't someone just set up a subscription to a postcode service and poll every known address from a collated database, and store the returned postcode?
Oh wait, I had a sub once myself, and I forgot that they charge you per postcode (or block of postcodes).
ANYONE that thinks it's perfectly legit that companies should pay for Postcode lookups, especially web services, is out of their mind. It's even worse than bloody google Adwords for money drain, unless you have oodles of cash to buy non-per-postcode access.
Who essentially make a living by licensing the PAF database from RM, and reselling it, along with an API to third parties. I would imagine it would cause them a bit of a headache if the PAF database was available to all and sundry and the average programmer could just write queries to it themselves...
What, you mean the royal mail barcodes that they stick on the post? Those ones that contain the postcode, delivery point suffix and a check digit? The ones you can print on any printer if you have a copy of the postal barcode font?
Or maybe you're talking about one of the many other ones that are a published and publicly available format like code 3 of 9?
"Shouldn't we be pleased that a publically owned organisation is trying to make a profit?"
Yeah that's right - sell the people back the data they have already paid for! That's like the taxpayer-financed UKHO map data being sold back to sailors to help them avoid being smashed on the rocks.
... oh wait...
The UK isn't the only country that treats postcodes as IP; the Netherlands does the same. The Dutch postcode system was created by the then PTT, now TNT and as such owns the database and all rights to it. It does not matter that PTT was then owned by the state; and neither does it in the case of Royal Mail.
This has been asserted in various lawsuits.
Except it isn't the public, it is (for the most part) commercial organisations making use of the postcodes for financial gain.
An individual can make up to 15 free postcode searches each day. So try coming up with a sarcastic reply that doesn't make you look like a smuck next time.
"I think this should go further and allow for profitable use of the PAF as well, Royal Mail should be forced to inovate just like this company if they want to make money off the PAF, rather than trolling it for a measley 1.6M / year in licensing fees."
If the PAF data is freely available, then there is no real opportunity for Royal Mail to make money from it; at the moment they can charge a license fee, what you're suggesting would remove that possibility. Ernest Marples Postcodes Ltd. (operators of ernestmarples.com) are being innovative, in that they want to provide postcode related services but can't afford the license fee from Royal Mail so they are starting a Freetard campaign to make postcodes license free.
Also, the Direct Marketing Association wrote to the Post Office about PAF license fees:
The document quotes "30k license holders" and costs varying "£2k to £9k"; that's a lot more than £1.6 million (more like £100 million), so the Post Office can be expected to want to hang on to this money.
Don't get me wrong; I think there is a good case for making the PAF data free for everyone, but there is a cost to the PAF data and the decision has to be taken by the UK government that it is prepared to pay for the postcode database directly out of public funds.
Royal Mail built and maintain the PAF database, to streamline their own operations. A brilliant innovation paid for by the UK tax payer. They offer free access for non-commercial, personal use or at a reasonable fee for corporate use. What is the problem with this? Why should this work be given away for free for other people to profit from?
The revenue that RM receives from PAF helps subsidise the postal service. If it is taken away, we all end up paying, either through government subsidy (i.e. tax) or through higher postage costs. So who should pay? The general public or the companies trying to make a profit from it?
Don't know why they introduced post-codes in the first place - those gaumless sods at our local Royal Mail totally ignore them anyway.
I live in a road that has the same name used in different areas. The number of times I get post meant for someone at the same address but different area, you wouldn't believe. AND it's got the post-code for the other address on it. Obviously, they just read the address totally ignoring the name and post code on it.
"An individual can make up to 15 free postcode searches each day. So try coming up with a sarcastic reply that doesn't make you look like a smuck(*) next time."
It doesn't matter a shite if it's an individual or a commercial organization accessing the data - taxpayers paid for it, taxpayers ( yes, even commercial ones ) should have access to it. People who add value to the data are welcome to make a profit with that added value, anything else is just being taxed twice for the data.
(*) Ad hominem attacks are usually more effective after processing by a spell-checker
Taxpayer did not pay for the production of the postal code system. It was paid for by the Royal Mail from revenue received from its business. The state just happens to own the Royal Mail.
The Royal Mail is not the NHS. The Royal Mail is a state owned business that is meant to be self-funding. The NHS is paid for directly from tax revenues (there is a very small part of its income from other sources).
Is the issue that this company is using the Royal Mail database without paying or just using the information? If company X manually created a private database which matched postcodes to localities is that not a valid use of publicly available information? Its like the RM is saying that they own the rights to GKUGYG-98479 is they decided to use this as a postcode for Norwich. It's just letters and numbers. Put it in a collated form, which has involved effort and labour - access to that I can understand being licensed. It seems company X did exactly that but licensing their API. Did their API do nothing but search the RM database or was it a database independant of the RM one?
I guess this is a bit like a traffic authority saying you can't use the names of streets in a commercial or free product, because its their IP and they therefore own the names.
Kind of answered my own question, from the Ernest Maples web site
" Where's the data coming from?
We're not saying. But, just to be clear: we don't hold a copy of the postcode database ourselves, neither in complete form nor as part of a cache."
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