Thanks very much to all the people who have emailed me with helpful advice on the copyright of routing numbers
Andrew B. Delaney of Martin & Associates has generously offered to fight this legal action pro bono, and he's bringing in a number of his colleagues to help.
Mr. Delaney told me that he has been a long-time user of my website, and volunteered to help out after seeing the legal notices. After so many bad experiences
with the legal profession over the past few weeks, I can't tell you how amazing it is to meet a lawyer who would volunteer his time
to fight against unethical attorneys who misuse the legal process via intimidation and obfuscation of the law.
First, Mr. Delaney and his team sent this (awesome) letter to the lawyers representing the ABA, which has generated some great media response (see media links below).
After waiting two months for a response which never came, Mr. Delaney and his team have sent a second letter and advised me to put the routing numbers back up! I'm very grateful for their help, and suggest that if you ever find yourself in need of legal help, you should consider the magnificent team at Martin and Associates.
11/5/2013:Nigel Howard has responded.
11/19/2013: And once again, we are asking Nigel Howard to explain why he believes routing numbers are copyrightable.
Here are a number of articles on this issue:
After reading this article, Olinga Abbott, one of my website users, created a petition for the American Bankers Association. (Please sign up, and thanks very much Olinga!)
Olinga has also posted this SlashDot story on these claims of Routing number copyright. Please "upvote" this story.
ChillingEffects.org has posted an article entitled American Bankers Association Claims Copyright in 9-Digit numbers
TechDirt posted this article on the TakeDown Notice (you can post comments here also)
A number of people have suggested that
having people contact the ABA to complain about this legal harrasment may help.
Here is the contact page for the ABA.
Some people have also suggested that I contact the Federal Reserve. I have tried to, but unfortunately I have not
received any responses yet. If you would like to contact them yourself, you can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org
use the Federal Reserve's contact page.
Please be polite. It is the ABA trying to take down my site, not the Federal Reserve (I get my data directly from the Federal Reserve).
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.)
Here is the initial letter:
Thanks in advance for any helpful advice anyone can give me,
Emailed from: email@example.com
Demand for Immediate Take-Down: Notice of Infringing Activity
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:
ABA Routing Numbers
ABA Key to Routing Numbers
American Bankers Association
2. Copyright infringing material or activity found at the following location(s):
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.
On behalf of American Bankers Association
1120 Connecticut Ave NW,
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.
Here is their second email:
I have attached a PDF response from Nigel Howard
, a partner based in NY, which addresses the points you raise in your email, below.
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.