I have recently received threatening letters from lawyers working for the American Bankers Association (ABA). (you can see these letters below.)
Thanks very much to all the people who have emailed me with helpful advice on the copyright of routing numbers.

I get my bank routing numbers from the Federal Reserve's website at http://www.fededirectory.frb.org/download.cfm . I have always believed that this info was public domain (otherwise, why would the Federal Reserve allow people to download this data if it belonged to the ABA? Why would the Federal Reserve not mention the copyright of the ABA?). However, the ABA lawyers are telling me that this data is copyrighted by the ABA, and that I am not allowed to display these numbers on my site.

Many people from the Financial Industry have sent me "Thank You" letters over the past few years for my routing number pages, and I know that many of you depend on this site for your work. I'm hoping that some of you can help me now. If you know that I am somehow violating copyright, or are certain that I am not, or have some other advice for me, please write me a note here. Otherwise, I will likely shut-down this site (I'm just trying to offer a free, helpful public service here.  I'm just a small website owner.)

Thanks in advance for any helpful advice anyone can give me,
Greg

Here is the initial letter:
Emailed from: gyoung@cov.com
Demand for Immediate Take-Down: Notice of Infringing Activity
URL: http://www.gregthatcher.com/Financial/Default.aspx
Case #: 10
Date: 30 May 2013
Dear Sir or Madam,
The American Bankers Association has received information that the domain listed above, which appears to be on servers under your control, is offering unlicensed copies of, or is engaged in other unauthorized activities relating to copyrighted works published by the American Bankers Association 1. Identification of copyrighted works:
Copyrighted works:
ABA Routing Numbers
ABA Key to Routing Numbers
Copyright owner:
American Bankers Association
2. Copyright infringing material or activity found at the following location(s):

http://www.gregthatcher.com/Financial/Default.aspx
The above copyright works are being copied, displayed and made available for copying by others, including through downloading, at the above location without authorization of the copyright owner.
3. Statement of authority:
The information in this notice is accurate, and I hereby certify under penalty of perjury that I am authorized to act on behalf of American Bankers Association, the owner of the copyrights in the works identified above. I have a good faith belief that none of the materials or activities listed above have been authorized by American Bankers Association, its agents, or the law. We hereby give notice of these activities to you and request that you take expeditious action to remove or disable access to the material described above, and thereby prevent the illegal reproduction and distribution of these copyright works via your company's network. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter. Please advise us regarding what actions you take.

Yours sincerely,
Gareth Young
Internet Investigator
On behalf of American Bankers Association
1120 Connecticut Ave NW,
Washington,
DC 20036.
E-mail: gyoung@cov.com


Here is my first response:
My site is not displaying any data from the ABA. It is displaying free, publicly available data provided by our government.

Like many, many other websites (www.routingnumbers.org, http://us-routing-numbers.com/, www.routingnumbers.co/, http://www.odditysoftware.com/page-datasales315.htm, and many more), my site is simply displaying the free, publicly available data provided by the Federal Reserve at http://www.fededirectory.frb.org/download.cfm

I suggest you contact the Federal Reserve, and let them know that you believe they are distributing data that you (and no one else) believe belongs to the ABA. You should tell them to "take-down" this site: http://www.fededirectory.frb.org/download.cfm Note that the Federal Reserve's website allows anyone to download this publicly available data, and that this web page makes no mention of the ABA (because the ABA doesn't have any ownership or copyright of this data).

If you can somehow convince the Federal Reserve that they should not be making this data freely available, then you will automatically shut down my site as well as the many, many other sites and software packages that display this data.

Of course, we both know that this is not a legitimate "Demand for Immediate Take-Down ", and that this data does not belong to the ABA. It is publicly available data distributed by our government (specifically, the Federal Reserve). I'm guessing that the ABA has probably found a way to sell this Federal Reserve data to clients who don't know that this data is free, and that they don't want the general public to know that this data is free (well, our taxes paid for it, but government transparency demands that we all have free access to it), so that ABA can earn income from this free data.

Many banks and other financial companies depend on my site for their daily activities. If you continue with this harassment, I will be forced to ask my many website users to contact the Federal Reserve and ABA to complain about this nefarious attempt to charge them for publicly free data.

Obviously, your email is just an attempt to harass and frighten a small website owner.

I request that you cease and desist this harassment immediately.

Greg


Here is their second email:
Greg,

I have attached a PDF response from Nigel Howard, a partner based in NY, which addresses the points you raise in your email, below.

Best regards,

Gareth


Strangely, instead of just emailing me a response, they sent me this pdf as an attachment to the email (the pdf isn't even addressed to me??).

Anyway, if anyone is knowledgeable in these matters, please contact me. Otherwise, I will likely take down this section of the website.

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