A U.K. company behind the digital addressing system What3Words has sent a legal threat to a security researcher for offering to share an law firm the identity of the person or people with whom he had shared a copy of the software, agree that he would not make any further copies, and delete any documents he had in his possession. The letter gave him until May 7 to agree, after which What3Words would “waive any entitlement it may have to pursue related claims against you,” a thinly-veiled threat of .project with other researchers, which What3Words claims violates its copyright. Aaron Toponce, a systems administrator at XMission, on Thursday from a law firm representing What3Words, requesting that he delete tweets related to the open-source alternative, WhatFreeWords. The letter also demands that he disclose to the
“This is not a worth battle fighting,” he tweeted. Toponce told accessible on the phone in an emergency than finding and reading out their precise geographic coordinates.with the demands, fearing legal repercussions if he didn’t. He has also asked the law firm twice for links to the tweets they want deleted but has not heard back. “Depending on the tweet, I may or may not comply. Depends on its content,” he said. U.K.-based What3Words divides the world into three-meter squares and labels each with a unique three-word phrase. The idea is that sharing three words is more
But the project’s website was nevertheless subjected to a copyright takedown request filed by What3Words’ counsel. Even tweets that pointed to cached or backup copies of the code were removed by Twitter at the lawyers’ demands. Toponce — a security researcher on the side — contributed to Tierney’s research, tweeting his findings as he went. Toponce said he offered to share a copy of the WhatFreeWords code with other researchers to help Tierney with his ongoing research into What3Words. Toponce told TechCrunch thatmay have been a combination of offering to share the code and finding problems with What3Words.
In its letter to Toponce, What3Words argues that WhatFreeWords contains its intellectual property and that the websites still retain copies of the code and are easily searchable through Google. Techcrunch has seen several since Toponce went public with the legal threat. Tierney, who did not use WhatFreeWords as part of his research, said in a tweet that What3Words’ reaction was “totally unreasonable given the ease with which you can find versions online.”. Regardless, several