What about internal only use? Like using a web service to standardize
addresses in your database? How about retrieving geocoding information via
a webservice that is then stored in an internal database? That seems
noncommercial to me.
I think you can't paint a broad brush here about web services in general.
If the only T&C is the "free for personal use" then I don't know if there is
an established legal definition of what that means in absence of specific
In the specific case of addresses and geocoding, I know of two such web
1) Google map apis
2) Yahoo map apis
In the case of Google, they explicitly state you are only permitted to use
them in conjunction with google maps. I don't recall the exact phrase, but
the bottom line is you are not allowed to do what you mention though I think
you were at one point in time.
In the case of Yahoo, they explicitly DO give you permission to do that, but
"limit" you to a certain number of requests per source IP address per day.
Last I knew that was 5000 requests per IP per day. Furthermore, I believe
that they reserve the right to "rate limit" you if requests come to close
together from a single IP. I think their server intentionally starts adding
some delays before responding, but don't know that they disclose what
constitutes too fast. You also must apply for a free application ID at
Come to think of it, I believe USPS also offers a web service for address
scrubbing, but I am quite sure they explicitly state it can ONLY be use for
postal mail. You are explicitly NOT allowed to update your internal
databases then use the scrubbed addresses to ship via another carrier.
There are also lots of commercial providers of this service, but my point
was that each service needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis. I
think one of the services Scott K mentions in his tutorials has a 50,000
limit per day per source IP.
In my view, needing over 50K per day can probably safely fall in the
"commercial use" category. :)
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