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Timetable App Developer Gets Nastygram From Transit Sydney

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the didn't-get-the-gift-horse-memo dept.

Government 378

mikesd81 writes "ZDNet Australia writes that NSW state corporation RailCorp has threatened a Sydney software developer with legal action if he fails to withdraw a train timetable application that is currently the second-most-popular application in its category in Apple's App Store. Alvin Singh created Transit Sydney after he began teaching himself how to program in Cocoa Mobile. Within days of its Feb 18 release, Singh received a cease and desist notice from Rail Corporation NSW, the government body that administers Sydney's CityRail network. The email states: 'I advise that copyright in all CityRail timetables is owned by RailCorp. ... Any use of these timetables in a manner which breaches copyright by a third party can only occur through the grant of a suitable licence by RailCorp.'""As a government body, RailCorp information is protected by Crown copyright, a contentious provision in copyright law that has recently been used to block attempts to access information on the location of Victoria's bushfires and even seemingly innocuous information as the locations of public toilets. 'RailCorp's primary concern here is that our customers receive accurate, up-to-date timetable information,' RailCorp spokesperson Paul Rea explained. 'This includes details of service interruptions, special event services, track work and other changes. ... At this stage, it is not possible for RailCorp to grant third-party developers access to our internal passenger information systems. As such, any third-party CityRail timetable application would contain inaccuracies and have the potential to mislead our customers.'"

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378 comments

No Case Under US Law (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088209)

I don't know anything about Australian copyright law, but under US law you cannot copyright a fact. A train timetable would certainly qualify. This might be one area where we get things right.

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088233)

Advertised train times a fact? In what country is that? Usually, these are pure fiction.

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Informative)

LuNa7ic (991615) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088283)

As far as I'm aware, Japanese trains have to be within ~2 minutes of the schedule or the passengers get a partial refund.

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Interesting)

Aranykai (1053846) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088369)

Correct. They even give you a receipt to turn into your employer or school explaining that they are responsible for your tardiness.

I seem to recall reading the average delay last year was only 26 seconds.

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Interesting)

ArwynH (883499) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088435)

Never heard of anyone getting a refund.

They do give out the receipts though, which legally protect you from being tardy. Quite useful because when it rains, the train are guaranteed to be at least 5min late, sometimes up to 30min.

Other common reasons for trains being late are overcrowding and suicide.

Re:No Case Under US Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088581)

I've heard about this on the internet, but never actually seen it happen. My train has been up to about 8 minutes late recently. I would guess it's just a particular rail operator that does it, or maybe just the ones that I use don't do it.

Re:No Case Under US Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088675)

Being late does not make you a retard.

Factual train times (2, Interesting)

Richard Bannister (464181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088479)

I'd say Japan. I've been there a few times and have always been amazed as I watch long distance trains pulling into the station exactly when the timetable says they should.

Re:Factual train times (0)

wellingj (1030460) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088507)

It's not rocket science...

Re:Factual train times (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088589)

How do you handle some jackass blocking the door, thereby preventing the train from leaving until security removes the blockage from the doorway?

It might not even be a person blocking the door, a sticker on the door sensors making optical sensors think there is a blockage, and/or a sticky rubber bumped on the mechanical sensors is enough to put a train 2 minutes behind schedule.

Now if you're traveling over a long distance and don't normally travel at 100% of your safe travel speed it's not that hard to make up the time, but in my city the longest you go is 2-4 minutes between stops and the trains run very close to 100% of their safe speed, which doesn't allow much room to make up lost time.

Re:Factual train times (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088831)

How do you handle some jackass blocking the door, thereby preventing the train from leaving until security removes the blockage from the doorway?

Crushing societal pressure to conform?

It might not even be a person blocking the door, a sticker on the door sensors making optical sensors think there is a blockage, and/or a sticky rubber bumped on the mechanical sensors is enough to put a train 2 minutes behind schedule.

Human intervention?

Re:Factual train times (1)

amnezick (1253408) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088859)

not if the train can go in hyperspace but they don't use it unless they have to.

seriously now: in japan trains can go blazingly fast but they usually don't ... until there is a "blockage in the system".

Re:Factual train times (2, Funny)

failedlogic (627314) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088563)

Did you bring a watch ..... really?! Are you sure they didn't just change the clock at the other end to make it look like you got there on time? ;-) ;-)

Re:Factual train times (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088849)

No seriously, maybe one train in 1000 is off by over 30seconds (in major areas dunno about smaller places). Its impressive to say the least.

Re:No Case Under US Law (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088575)

when I was in the UK the trains I took were always on time, within 2 minutes. The buses on the other hand were a joke, they were never on time, and that varied by up to 2 days... Yes, I said days, and I meant that literally... They claim there was a bus war on, in my opinion the only thing they could be fighting over is which bus company gave the worst service on the planet. Yes, I rode the trains when the bus didn't show, in other words, a LOT.

You're giving them ideas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088635)

and then, how about changing the employers' clock?

Although maybe they already do this to give themselves the money of your lateless penalties.

Well, there seems to be limit to absurdity and moral depravity.

Re:No Case Under US Law (3, Funny)

patch0 (1339585) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088775)

That is obviously a complete lie, you can't have been in the UK if you experienced trains being on time.... Didn't the German accents give away your real location? :)

Re:No Case Under US Law (2)

UbuntuLinux (1242150) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088875)

That cannot be true. My rail service in and out of London (Southeastern) is appalling, its so bad I've actually started keeping a log of all my delayed/cancelled trains so that I can get refunds at the end of the month. Last month, I had 18 trains that were either cancelled, or more then 15 minutes late, which is more then one every other day.

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088287)

Unfortunately the relevant part of Australian intellectual property law is a bit of a relic from the 'olden days' and actually doesn't bother to distinguish between a creative work, and merely publishing a fact. So things like telephone directory data and train timetables CAN in fact be considered copyrighted here.

Yes it's utterly ridiculous. The Australian Law Reform Commission is looking at this as a matter of priority in its review of Australian IP law, and it's likely to get changed within the next 5-10 years. But for now, that's the state of affairs.

Disclaimer: IAAL.

Re:No Case Under US Law (4, Funny)

supernova_hq (1014429) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088359)

Disclaimer: IAAL.

Holy crap, and actual lawyer on slashdot!!!

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Informative)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088385)

Well I'm qualified as one ... but I don't currently practice law. I'm a university lecturer ... specifically, Information Technology Law and IP Law. So saying 'IAAL' is slightly naughty of me since I'm not actually representing clients et al. at this point, I just have the necessary qualifications.

Re:No Case Under US Law (5, Funny)

Namarrgon (105036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088415)

Pointing out fine legal distinctions - holy crap, he really is a lawyer on slashdot!!!

Re:No Case Under US Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088585)

Seems to me calling yourself "lawyer" is just fine, but you're clearly not certain specific kinds of lawyer, e.g. an attorney or a counselor.

Many stupid-sounding legal issues in Australia? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088659)

We see a lot of articles on Slashdot about stupid-sounding legal issues in Australia. Sounds like you need to get a reasonable government. Oh, well, at least the Australian government, unlike the U.S. government, doesn't go around killing people.

Re:Many stupid-sounding legal issues in Australia? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088845)

Or you could complain to the Minister for Transport" [mailto] , David Campbell. Alternatively find your electorate by doing an Electoral District search [nsw.gov.au] , then look at this list [nsw.gov.au] to see who your state member is.

For all those in the U.S. - NSW is one state in a big landmass. Not all State governments do this sort of stupidity. NSW is in terminal decline at the moment, it's only a few years till us poor New South Welshmen get to kick them out of government. Unfortunately, my member of parliament is Joe Tripodi [google.com.au] . Oops, did I type that into Google? Silly me.

Re:No Case Under US Law (1)

psy (88244) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088693)

Well I'm qualified as one ... but I don't currently practice law. I'm a university lecturer ... specifically, Information Technology Law and IP Law. So saying 'IAAL' is slightly naughty of me since I'm not actually representing clients et al. at this point, I just have the necessary qualifications.

He used et al - he must be a lawyer :P

I have to ask... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088727)

You're not also a senior Theologian who moderates on Wikipedia, by any chance?

Law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088699)

Law in itself is totally a relic from the olden days when mankind fell out of paradise into the robbing arms of institutionalized masters.

uhm maybe not ordinary copyright (1)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088705)

As pointed out else where there is database copyright, where the compilation of facts can be copyrighted. E.g. street indexes, phone directories and email addresses published on websites.

IANAL

Re:No Case Under US Law (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088717)

We have the same problem in Australia with Channel 9 (or channel US as I call them) copyrighting its tv listings.

These two companies are a joke. Scum, the lot of em. It is what happens when you let lawyers make decisions for you.

Database rights (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088301)

I don't know anything about Australian copyright law, but under US law you cannot copyright a fact. A train timetable would certainly qualify. This might be one area where we get things right.

In Australia (and I think elsewhere) there is such a thing as a "database right". A rough example would be the phone book. It is a collection of facts: people's names and their phone numbers. However, there is a significant investment in collecting these facts, and so the particular *set of facts* (ie, the database) has an associated database right. So, unless the authors of the app independently collected their own data on when trains pass particular stations (eg, by sitting in every station with a watch -- unlikely), they presumably were using RailCorps' "database" (timetable).

Re:Database rights (5, Interesting)

Xoc-S (645831) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088427)

So create an app so that it collects real-time data gathering information via GPS, Wi-Fi hub, and cell tower triangulation and uploading it to a central server (similar to Google Latitude). You could even use the accelerometer in the iPhone to detect when trains started moving, since I'm sure that it would be a different profile than walking. After a month or so, you'd have a real database of when the trains run rather than what appears on the schedule, which is more valuable information anyway. They couldn't touch that info, since they don't own it. If I lived Down Under, I'd write it just to tell them where they can stuff their copyright.

Re:Database rights (4, Insightful)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088489)

That, sir, is a very clever idea. If I lived down under, I'd help you write it.

Then again, I've already lived there in the past, and you couldn't force me at gunpoint to make that mistake again.

Re:Database rights (2, Informative)

highways (1382025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088587)

I don't know anything about Australian copyright law, but under US law you cannot copyright a fact. A train timetable would certainly qualify. This might be one area where we get things right.

In Australia (and I think elsewhere) there is such a thing as a "database right". A rough example would be the phone book. It is a collection of facts: people's names and their phone numbers. However, there is a significant investment in collecting these facts, and so the particular *set of facts* (ie, the database) has an associated database right. So, unless the authors of the app independently collected their own data on when trains pass particular stations (eg, by sitting in every station with a watch -- unlikely), they presumably were using RailCorps' "database" (timetable).

This is currently been tested in the high court, at least as far as TV Electronic Program Guides. See http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/10/18/2037216&from=rss [slashdot.org] for the story.

Re:Premiership the same in the UK (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088487)

In the UK the same applies. For example the Premiership actively persue anyone who publishes the game schedules. I don't believe it is a fact until the event has taken place hence they get to copyright it...

Re:No Case Under US Law (4, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088681)

It also depends on how the information is retrieved.

For example, some 15 years ago in The Netherlands a company wanted to release a phone book to compete with the monopoly fixed line provider's phone book. This to sell advertisements and so of course. Now to get the telephone numbers, they took the phone book to China, and hired a bunch of Chinese for cheap to manually copy the numbers from paper into a computer, and then printed it. The monopolist of course didn't believe that, and a law suit followed.

The point was: reading and typing the numbers is legal, as the information could not be copyrighted. However directly copying the phone book (e.g. by using a photocopier) would be illegal.

This of course is not Australian law, but I just want to point out that even though the information (telephone numbers, sports results, TV schedules, transport time tables) may not be copyrighted, a certain representation of it may suddenly be copyrighted.

The train company may argue that it is illegal to draw the information from their web site (e.g. screen scraping), even though it is not legal for someone to walk down to the station, look at the published tables, type the information into their PDA, and publish is.

As another poster in this thread points out there is also an issue with TV listings: these are normally drawn directly from a TV channel's Internet site, and that may cause copyright problems. However if someone would gather the information from public sources (printed listings, the newspaper, whatever) then it may be a different matter.

Of course I think it is silly to have these tables copyrighted, and even silly from the train company to prevent this information to be known by as many people as possible (the more people know about when a train runs, the more are likely to actually take it), without knowing the details of how this information is retrieved and how the Australian copyright laws deal with this kind of information we can not say whether they are legally right or not. And whether they are morally right or not, that is a totally different discussion.

Re:No Case Under US Law (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088741)

Anonymous coward.
Your correspondent may be familiar with US law but clearly is abysmally unlearned in philosophy. A fact is a statement which is clearly discernable, cannot be disputed, can be proven scientifically, and is valid across all cultures, e.g. "The sun always rises in the east." A train timetable may be correct at the time of printing, but this does not impart anything more than a temporary validity. A timetable is a compilation of human creative effort, and can therefore be copyrighted as any other publication. It therefore cannot be considered to contain permanent facticity.

Crown copyright (2, Insightful)

golodh (893453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088907)

In Australia timetables from Government-operated companies *can* be copyrighted mate. Read the article. "Crown Copyright" it's called. Says it all really.

It seems that they had a report advocating a relaxation of certain provisions in the Crown copyright act "to allow for more easy access to public interest information, but those changes have yet to be implemented".

So for the time being Railcorp can sue the pants of anyone who publishes any part of their railway timetables. And they will since they're planning to bring out an app that does the same thing that this app does. Probably within the next 5 years or so, so "no worries mate".

Re:Not realistic in the UK (1)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088925)

Oh to live in a country where train times were facts - here in the UK, at least my part of the UK, catching a train means turning up at the station, crossing your fingers and waiting.

Heh. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088217)

Man, Australia is like living hell. Shitty slow filtered internet. Bigbrother-like government activities, and now this. I think the US needs to spread "democracy".. uhh.. wait no.

Re:Heh. (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088265)

Er ... the 'proposed' filter is only that. Proposed. Just an idea in some retarded luddite Senator's head. And just recently has pretty much been assured of dying a slow death in the Senate since the Liberals and all the minor parties are voting against it. 90% of the public is against it. So that saga is basically over and has resulted in no filter.*

And my internet is perfectly fast thank you (~20 Mbit, very low contention ratio, and no DPI or P2P throttling like seems to be common in some other places). (Yes I have a monthly download limit, but I never even get close to it even when doing a fair bit of P2P, and I can always pay another 10 bucks or whatever for a higher limit if I need to ... big deal).

There's a lot that sucks about Australia I'm sure. But you could say that of anywhere. And the 'filtering' is not one of those things since it, well, doesn't exist.

* Not to say that we should rest on our laurels though. The filter proposal is pretty much dead for now, but we need to make sure it stays that way.

Re:Heh. (4, Insightful)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088803)

In australia it was:
-proposed more than a year ago
-went through trials
-is having large amounts of public scrutiny
-has not been passed as law yet

and

-will not pass due to public outcry and a shifting sentiment in the senate.

Compare this to the US, where you'd only find out 18 months after it was implemented, and anyone asking about it would have been jailed.

Facts can't be copyrighted. (0)

meeve (923391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088241)

Sorry, RailCorp, facts aren't copyrightable. As long as the developer of Transit Sydney uses a presentation or layout that differs from that used by Rail Corporation, their claim is not valid.
IANAL.

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (2, Insightful)

Architect_sasyr (938685) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088261)

It has been a very long time since I started training to be a lawyer (and stopped later on) but I believe that Australian copyright covers both "ideas" and "information". In this light I would think a fact is considered information. My recollection of the law is a little hazy, so anyone feel free to correct me, but I do recall having this very discussion in a lecture once.

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088449)

Careful there, your recollection of Australian law might to be infringing. Now you can't tell because knowing might cause you to be in violation

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (2, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088277)

The wikipedia link seems to suggest it isn't normal copyright law that is in effect:

The chief recommendation was to end the distinction between the Crown and other copyright holders. In particular, the Committee was "emphatic" that the Crown lose its unique position of gaining copyright over material whenever it is the first publisher of such material. For example, a previously unpublished short story, upon being published in a government work, would cease to belong to the author and would instead become Crown copyright, denying the author any future royalties or rights to it.

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088285)

But this is Australia we're talking about. They've got some laws weird enough to make the British scratch their head, especially when it comes to information.

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088317)

Sorry, RailCorp, facts aren't copyrightable. As long as the developer of Transit Sydney uses a presentation or layout that differs from that used by Rail Corporation, their claim is not valid.

IANAL.

Unfortunately the layout and presentation are exactly the same as what RailCorp uses for their in-station electronic billboards.

I can see RailCorp's point. I'm sure they don't want their phone lines inundated with calls by people saying "The train was later than what my i-Thingamajiggi told me!". It would be easy for people to think it was a legitimately provided app.

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (5, Informative)

vandy1 (568419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088343)

You may wish to compare copyright schemes - In particular, the EU & AU recognise the so-called "sweat of the brow" right extant in databases, which a timetable would qualify under. Times of football matches also seem to qualify.

The controlling law in Australia is Desktop Marketing Systems Pty Ltd [âoeDtMSâ] v Telstra Corporation Limited [2002] FCAFC 112. At paras 253 & 254:

253 It was not their alphabetical arrangement or their designation as headings that attracted copyright protection to the compilation of headings constituting the Headings Books. Rather, it was the labour of building up the collection (of headings). Desktop appropriated the benefit of all or most of that labour.

254 Accordingly, by parity of reasoning with my reasons for concluding above that Desktop reproduced a substantial part of the White Pages Directories and a substantial part of the Yellow Pages Directories, it also reproduced a substantial part of the Headings Books, and so infringed Telstra's copyright in those Books.

So, under Australian law, you can copyright a compilation of facts.

Cheers,

Michael

Re:Facts can't be copyrighted. (2, Insightful)

tpgp (48001) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088433)

IANAL

Clearly. A lawyer would have considered the fact that this is not in the US & US law doesn't apply.

That's not good (3, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088257)

block [...] seemingly innocuous information as the locations of public toilets.

something you definitely need when you have transit problems.

Re:That's not good (2, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088599)

something you definitely need when you have transit problems

I strongly agree, remembering that I once upon a time stayed a whole day on a bridge in Nicosia because there was a comparatively clean public toilet underneath ;)

CC.

Yay, the Aussie /. spam is back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088291)

Good ol' timothy/kdawson: what a guy!

Re:Yay, the Aussie /. spam is back! (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088407)

Heh, even I have to admit that there's quite a few Australia-sourced stories on /. these days. Not that I mind it (I'm Australian), but it's noticable.

I think a fair quota for Australia should be 1 in 15 stories. Based purely on comparative population - Australia has 22 million people, US ~300 million, so around 15x as many.

Of course that doesn't leave room for all the other countries, so my theory needs a lot of work...

Re:Yay, the Aussie /. spam is back! (1)

jabithew (1340853) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088791)

Indeed, as you should have nearly as many stories about Mexico City as Australia.

Re:Yay, the Aussie /. spam is back! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088919)

Indeed, as you should have nearly as many stories about Mexico City as Australia.

I, for one, welcome our Chinese slashdotting overlords...

tip of the iceberg (5, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088303)

Governments all over the world are asserting copyrights on information created with public funding, or even public domain information.

Particularly annoying is when museums and similar institutions assert copyright over images of works that should have fallen into the public domain by now, in direct contradiction of their mission of disseminating those works to the public.

Potentially, governments can also use copyright claims in order to restrict distribution of information that the government finds politically undesirable: statistics, investigative reporting, etc.

Generally, everything a government creates with tax payer money should be public domain.

Re:tip of the iceberg (3, Informative)

Logic Worshiper (1480539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088493)

Generally, everything a government creates with tax payer money should be public domain.

I couldn't agree more, and if it's software, it should be open source.

Military information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088641)

Generally, everything a government creates with tax payer money should be public domain.

I completely agree. However, for some government creations there should be a time frame in which it doesn't need to be in the public domain. Like 5 years for anything military or for police stuff.
Keep in mind that "everything" also includes every single police file as well as all all troop placements.
Making all of public (even delayed) would actually help a democracy a lot more then train timetables.

Re:Military information (2, Interesting)

Phroggy (441) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088839)

I think 5 years is far too short for "anything military", although in general if the government is relying on copyright law to restrict the dissemination of information, then it probably isn't sensitive enough to keep out of the public domain, even within five years.

I wonder if we'll ever know the whole truth about the warrantless domestic wiretap program? I'm not optimistic.

they're not the only ones who lay the hate on (3, Interesting)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088305)

Years ago, the MBTA had a download that could be installed on older iPods and would give you bus and commuter rail schedules.

Then, a Palm app was "sponsored" by some Palm user group, and the iPod download mysteriously disappeared from their website.

Now, the MBTA is +$6BN in debt and can't afford to do anything like this- or implement the real-time tracking system all the busses are equipped with. It gets worse- Charliecards can't have money or passes loaded on them via the web, nor can you check their balance via the web. The commuter rail system was supposed to switch over a while ago. Student passes? Not able to load them onto Charliecards. They're such fucking morons that when they came up with bike cages that were "secured via charliecard", they neglected to mention that you can't have an existing charliecard granted cage access- not only that, but the bike charliecard can't have anything loaded on it!

Idling corporations and working people (4, Interesting)

what about (730877) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088313)

This seems one of the cases when an Idling corporation wans to get money out of work done by someone else.
The corporation did not have a product that people wanted, a person makes such product and now the corp wants the idea and the money I presume.

I have a feeling that laws should contain a part where the "intent" of the law is stated. In the Copyright law the intent is to give a limited monopoly on the "product" to allow people to produce new books that otherwise would not be viable.
A train timetable is no such thing, yes it is printed, but it is a byproduct of the service, not a product in itself !

IANAL The point is: If laws had a part where it was written what was the general aim of the law than maybe it would be simpler to decide on borderline cases.

Re:Idling corporations and working people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088623)

"This seems one of the cases when an Idling corporation wans to get money out of work done by someone else.
The corporation did not have a product that people wanted, a person makes such product and now the corp wants the idea and the money I presume."

Deja-vu, this is same reason the dutch railways (NS) wanted http://www.naquah.net/trein/ [naquah.net] removed from the store (according to http://webwereld.nl/article/view/id/53098 [webwereld.nl] (in dutch)). But a half year later there still is nothing to be found for iphones at the ns.nl.

Seems to me, then.... (1)

djupedal (584558) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088375)

That would put anyone who took a picture of any display in any Sidney train depot that showed any time schedule - on the wrong side of the law as well...pffttt....

add 1 second to the times (2, Interesting)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088381)

he should add 1 second to each time and suddenly it's not a fact from their timetable, it's his own creative work that merely HAPPENS to be close to theirs. no harm done.

iTunes link? (2, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088429)

Seriously. Links to PDFs are bad enough. I really didn't want iTunes to launch itself.

Re:iTunes link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088531)

Why would you have the iTunes hlper service running if you don't want it to open up iTunes ?

Facts truly not copywritable? (1)

LS (57954) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088497)

Wikipedia may not be 100% factual, but data rarely is 100% factual. Anyway, Wikipedia is represented as being a compendium of facts. Does this mean that Wikipedia is not actually copyrighted, and can be used without attribution?

Re:Facts truly not copywritable? (1)

Logic Worshiper (1480539) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088591)

Facts, as in data, not analysis of the data. "The temperature today is..." or 1+2=3. The presentation of the information varies, and can be copyrighted, as the application presenting that data was.

You can copy wikipedia because it's published under GPL, and that gives you the right to copy it. You can copy facts out of any encyclopedia.

Re:Facts truly not copywritable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088765)

Data is always factual. If it isn't factual, it isn't data.

Analysis of data is not, although it should be.

Posting Yesterday's Train Schedule (4, Interesting)

ItsyBitsySpider (1462333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088553)

Couldn't the developer create an application of what yesterday's, or the previous week's, train schedule was? Then, the application would be reporting past events, much like any news agency is allowed to do.

Re:Posting Yesterday's Train Schedule (2, Informative)

mgblst (80109) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088733)

But I don't want to catch the train yesteday, I want to catch todays train.

In fact, public transport in Sydney is a joke. Most buses for me stop right at the edge of town, a mile from the center. Each trip costs a ticket, you don't get 2 hours of transport included. And the bus which takes me into town, the only one that actually goes to the center of town, doesn't stop for me on the way back. It keeps going for 20 minutes, to the middle of nowhere, as I discovered at 2am one day. There are also special buses were you can't but a ticket on them, so if you don't have one by 10pm, you are screwed.

On top of that every fucker drives, so the traffic is horrendous.

Re:Posting Yesterday's Train Schedule (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088801)

Only if he included the deviations from the published timetable which occured, for example late arrivals or services which didn't run at all.

Any more than 5 minutes or so late and the timetable becomes useless. People would arrive for the published time of 5 minutes later and miss their train.

Meanwhile... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088555)

across the other side of the country, Transperth timetables for bus, train and ferries are integrated into Google Maps Mobile. Just sayin'

What the heck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088667)

They (the customers) should be allowed to use whatever they want. It has absolutely nothing to do with "accurate information" *little kid sarcastic voice queue* Are they getting blamed when the customer doesn't know that a train isn't working that day? NO, this is ridiculous and watch, the train company will probably put out an app now as soon as this one gets taken down. BS

Public Servants Snouts in the Copyright Trough (5, Insightful)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088671)

This is business as usual in Australia: The Federal Government uses the old archaic copyright practiced by *GREAT BRITAIN* (emphasis is theirs, not mine) where the government holds copyright on everything, and charge like a bull:

* Australian Maps are copyrighted by the federal government's mapping agency AUSLIG.
* Real Estate Data is copyrighted by e.g. Department of Natural Resources. They in turn make exclusive deals to data companies who sling wads of cash their way in exchange for special access. If you a citizen want access you're forced to go through these resellers. The famously greedy Macquarie Bank owns one of these.
* Tide tables are copyright.
* Even Aeronatical data is copyright. The US Department of Defense used to distribute a worldwide database of Aeronautical data, but they had to stop because "Air Services" (a branch of the Australian Government) hated the idea of the public getting for free what they were trying to sell. Instead of doing a worldwide edition without the Australian data, the US Department of Defense simply ended public access.
* Anything and everything. From simple forms to photos taken by government (e.g. a nice photo of that billion dollar aircraft paid for by your taxes) are copyrighted by the government.
* Even *THE WEATHER* is copyright. Print the weather in your local paper or stick it on the website, and you'll get an earful from the Weather Bureau who insists you "purchase a product license".

In all cases the people who run these departments like to think of themselves a private businessmen, but they're not: their capital is provided by the taxpayer and they've got all the protection of being part of the government. They're a monopoly. They can charge what they want. Not like you can go to the government down the road instead. Pigs at the trough.

This is different from the US where under the constitution the US Government does not copyright what it produces, reasoning your taxes paid to collect the data, so why should you be forced to pay again.

In the Sydney case here is the worst part: Their railway system is known as being beyond terrible. Trains don't show up, break down, disappear, bypass stations, ticketing doesn't work, there's bugger all security. There's a real culture of sloth, laziness and corruption there. And here's a guy selling something to help commuters (and offered to give it to the railways department for free) and they threaten him instead.

Melbourne not Sydney (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27088707)

About a year ago I emailed Connex (the company that currently runs Melbourne's trains - Australia too) about the lack of timetables for mobile devices that would be simple - just times of trains at the originating and destination stations, instead of the ones currently available online (but not for mobile devices) which have times at all intermediate stations as well, so are hard to read. Connex responded that they were working on it. I'm still waiting. I may be naive but if these companies cannot put the effort into providing the service we need, they should get out of the way of the companies who will do it. But of course they won't!

Recheck that headline. (4, Informative)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088747)

The headline says he got a nastygram from "Transit Sydney".

According to the summary that is, you know, right below it, "Transit Sydney" is the application, not the company. The company is "RailCorp".

Getting a nastygram from an application you developed does occasionally occur (fuck those runtime exceptions), but not in the sense this article implies.

The Scientology Defense (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088771)

I advise that copyright in all CityRail timetables is owned by RailCorp. ... Any use of these timetables in a manner which breaches copyright by a third party can only occur through the grant of a suitable licence by RailCorp. ...

As such, any third-party CityRail timetable application would contain inaccuracies and have the potential to mislead our customers.

So the information that he is disseminating is both classified and wrong. Sounds like the classic Scientology defense to me. I'm no lawyer, but I have the hunch that one of those charges will have to be withdrawn before the other even has a chance.

The app was the best thing about Sydney Transit (1)

mesagsx (413135) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088823)

... because the trains certainly aren't.

Worth noting that the minister in charge of this stingy bunch of copyright-enforcing goons is easily found at david@campbell.minister.nsw.gov.au

Feel free to provide him valuable feedback.

So, change the data. (1)

gknoy (899301) | more than 5 years ago | (#27088863)

Change the data so that everything is listed as 3 seconds early. It's no longer the same time table.

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