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Website owner accused of copyright infringement gets pro bono counsel

Martin & Associates takes on bank association claiming wrongful use of routing numbers

Greg Thatcher found himself a friend in Martin & Associates.

Thatcher, a software engineer who posted bank routing numbers, among other sensitive data on his website, received a strongly worded cease and desist letter from the American Bankers Association (ABA) in June. In the letter, the ABA, via its counsel Covington & Burling, accused Thatcher of copyright infringement for publishing the routing numbers, claiming they are “an original copyright work carefully selected and arranged as a result of the ABA’s creativity.”

But Andrew B. Delaney, a lawyer at Martin & Associates, wasn’t buying the ABA’s infringement claims and jumped to Thatcher’s defense – free of charge. Last week, Delaney, who frequented Thatcher’s site for routing numbers before he took them down after receiving the ABA’s letter, responded saying he was going to “set the record straight.”

In a footnote, Delaney said, “We used to use his site a lot. And we never paid him anything. But then you wrecked it for everyone. That wasn’t nice.”

Delaney goes on to defend Thatcher’s posting of the numbers, pointing out that a portion of every routing number is the Federal Reserve’s routing symbol, which is government work and therefore not copyrightable. He also adds that a case from the 1990s determined that phone numbers weren’t afforded copyright protection either.

Finally, Delaney asks the ABA to stop intimidating his client, claiming the public will view them as “big bullies.” He also asks the ABA to let Thatcher put the routing number section of his site back up … and even if they don’t, he would likely counsel him to do it anyway.

Read Delaney’s humorous letter – especially the footnotes – in its entirety. 

See more strange suits on InsideCounsel.

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Cathleen Flahardy

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