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New York MTA Asserts Copyright Over Schedule

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the might-be-a-bargain-if-they-always-kept-the-schedule dept.

Transportation 395

Presto Vivace writes "Greater Greater Washington reports that 'The New York Metropolitan Transit Authority's lawyers are going after a local blogger, and attempting to block an iPhone application showing Metro-North railroad schedules. The blog StationStops writes about Metro-North Commuter Railroad service north of New York City, and often criticizes its operations. Its creator, Chris Schoenfeld, also created an iPhone application to give Metro-North riders schedule information. Now the MTA is insisting he pay them to license the data, and at one point even accused the site of pretending to be an official MTA site.' I can't believe that this the MTA's actions are going to go over well with the public."

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Didn't this happen not too long ago.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139007)

except with a German bus system?

Re:Didn't this happen not too long ago.. (3, Informative)

e9th (652576) | about 5 years ago | (#29139463)

Sydney, Australia. [techdirt.com]

Re:Didn't this happen not too long ago.. (4, Insightful)

chrome (3506) | about 5 years ago | (#29139843)

I think that got thrown out of court; rail and bus information is public domain. They're not obligated to provide it in an easily fetchable format, but it's perfectly ok to republish it as long as you make it clear that you're not the original source.

Re:Didn't this happen not too long ago.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29140167)

Higher ups in the government intervened. [zdnet.com.au] Maybe Bloomberg will do the same.

words words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139023)

I can't believe that this the MTA's actions

that this the?

Re:words words (3, Funny)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#29139065)

What? You expected that this the editor proofread the submission?

Re:words words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139859)

I don't. The 'editor' doesn't really do much editing; he merely selects and quotes the actual submitter.

T-Mobile Sucks (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139051)

They don't deliver my phone calls or text messages relieably. They have dead zones in the middle of big cities.

They won't let me out of my contract.

never user T-Mobile.

This is will never fly in the courts (5, Informative)

Cutie Pi (588366) | about 5 years ago | (#29139117)

There is significant precedent in copyright law that lists of facts or data cannot be copyrighted.

See, e.g. Feist Publications, Inc. v. Rural Tel. Service Co., 499 U.S. 340 (1991)
Link [findlaw.com]

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (4, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29139223)

Not to mention stupid. It's their own best interest to make that information as widely available as possible.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (5, Insightful)

DutchSter (150891) | about 5 years ago | (#29139439)

Not to mention stupid. It's their own best interest to make that information as widely available as possible.

Not that I agree with what the MTA is doing, but I can see where they might be coming from, if for no other reason from an accuracy standpoint. I'm sure they wouldn't disagree that it is in their best interest to make the information as widely available as possible. However, you'll note that it says that Schoenfeld enters the data manually. What happens when he has a typo or transcribes a column wrong and borks an entire train? Customers get angry because they miss expected connections and blame MTA not Schoenfeld.

Of course they've got other issues where they've supposedly got a deal with some vendor to provide some kind of mobile scheduling service, but I wonder most about the liability MTA could face if people rely on someone's home grown hobby and it goes bad. Sure in the end they'd come out OK, but there'd be lots of bad press and time spent cleaning up the mess.

As one of the posters to the blog pointed out copyright law isn't the proper way to go about this objective. Sadly it's probably just the first thing that came to mind when Director Somensmuck called Legal and said "Johnson? We've got a problem. I want to know what you're going to do about it before you go home tonight."

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (4, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | about 5 years ago | (#29139649)

I wonder most about the liability MTA could face if people rely on someone's home grown hobby and it goes bad.

How about the liability anyone faces for 3rd-party actions not under their control (hint - there is none).

A simple disclaimer would suffice - even one written in Engrish, like the "Do not iron clothes while wearing them" on irons.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 5 years ago | (#29139741)

Doesn't matter what press the MTA faces. There's no other way to get that many people all around NYC. Roads are congested as-is. Take away the biggest form of mass transit there, and everyone will run back because nobody can get anywhere.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (3, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | about 5 years ago | (#29139793)

What happens when he has a typo or transcribes a column wrong and borks an entire train? Customers get angry because they miss expected connections and blame MTA not Schoenfeld.

This is bullshit. When they arrive at the station and their train is not there, usually they'll ask someone working there or start to complain to someone working there, at which point they'll get informed about the facts of life.

The problem is, a third party service is required to spread the information. In the UK, there are at least 10 different websites, where you can search, book and print anything you could possibly need (including a bus service or a taxi at the destination), and if you're on the move already, you can just send an SMS, and they'll text you back with the information you need.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

TheDarAve (513675) | about 5 years ago | (#29139973)

Just wondering, is the NY MTA public or privatized? If its public, it's going to get thrown out. There's that whole sticky thing about the government not being able to patent or copyright things made with public funds. (However, this is not true of things made by contractors.) There's a few other public/private quirks in the laws too that I don't know. (IANAL.)

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (2, Insightful)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | about 5 years ago | (#29140105)

No, you're thinking of the federal government, and even then it's not quite what you think it is. Unless the government of the state of New York has a law whereby it disclaims copyrights in works it creates, it has federal copyrights in them. This having been said, it would probably be good for the Copyright Act to make all governmental bodies ineligible for copyright, on the grounds that it's no incentive to them. For example, the MTA's decisions regarding creating and publishing a schedule are going to be made without any concern for copyright. It isn't incentivized to do what it otherwise would not do because of copyright.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (2, Informative)

Translation Error (1176675) | about 5 years ago | (#29139455)

I imagine they believe it's in their own best interest to create and sell an iPhone application themselves or (more likely) somehow get a cut from his.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 5 years ago | (#29139839)

get a cut from his? That's the same as saying they own the data. Maybe offer a paid API to get realtime updates to the schedule. If he wants to pay, then it makes his site a better one.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (5, Funny)

richardkelleher (1184251) | about 5 years ago | (#29139723)

They are afraid terrorists will get a hold of the schedule and to keep that from happening they are going to stealth the whole process. Buses and trains will now be randomized. Numbers and routes will change spontaneously. Sometimes trains will run on bus routes and buses on train routes. Every once in a while one (either a train or bus) will cross over to NJ, drive off in the pine barrens on its own and self destruct on the off chance it is carrying a terrorist. That will solve everything.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29140073)

Don't they already do that?

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (5, Funny)

pdabbadabba (720526) | about 5 years ago | (#29140119)

So, business as usual then?

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | about 5 years ago | (#29140137)

Reminds me of [insert city with reputation for poorly run transit system\]!

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (5, Funny)

UncleFluffy (164860) | about 5 years ago | (#29139359)

There is significant precedent in copyright law that lists of facts or data cannot be copyrighted.

You're assuming that the schedule is a list of facts, as opposed to a work of fantasy. My experience with public transport in the US is that it's generally the latter.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | about 5 years ago | (#29139565)

In the US, yes. In Japan, you can set your watch to public transportation.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 5 years ago | (#29139779)

But the Japanese make all the good watches!

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

TheDarAve (513675) | about 5 years ago | (#29139939)

I thought that was the swiss? Or am I thinking of Hot Cocoa again?

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139893)

He specifically said in the US.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (0, Redundant)

hamburgler007 (1420537) | about 5 years ago | (#29139499)

Fortunately for the MTA their schedules are as far from factual as you can get.

Never say "never" (2, Insightful)

jayme0227 (1558821) | about 5 years ago | (#29139635)

There is ample evidence on Slashdot, if you're not too lazy to look,* of armchair lawyers coming up with perfectly reasonable precedents that the courts seemingly refused to cite in their decisions. Just because the precedent is there and seemingly applicable doesn't mean the court will follow it.

*I am

Re:Never say "never" (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 5 years ago | (#29139869)

The court? That's the lawyer's job.

Re:This is will never fly in the courts (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | about 5 years ago | (#29139661)

maybe they displayed the logo?

Disbarment (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 5 years ago | (#29139119)

The MTA lawyers ought to know that they're persecuting the blogger beyond what copyright law allows. They should be disbarred.

Re:Disbarment--ONLY AFTER PAYING HIS FEES (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29139355)

The MTA lawyers ought to know that they're persecuting the blogger beyond what copyright law allows. They should be disbarred.

They should be disbarred only after paying all his legal fees as the prevailing party in the lawsuit.

Re:Disbarment (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139413)

After being punted around by a lawyer over lots of BS, leading to the loss of my home, its clear to me the bar for disbarment is pretty high.

Re:Disbarment (4, Insightful)

michaelhood (667393) | about 5 years ago | (#29139715)

DNRTFA but there's no misconduct in sending what amounts to a cease & desist to someone. Anyone can do this, lawyer or not. A C&D is not a court action, it's just a scary looking letter on expensive paper.

IANAL.

Re:Disbarment (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 5 years ago | (#29139879)

And it means your claim doesn't have to even be valid. Just scary enough.

Why would a transit company.... (4, Interesting)

puppetman (131489) | about 5 years ago | (#29139131)

try to stop someone from making their service more user-friendly?

And the MTA should welcome constructive criticism - it's better than have your customers quietly leave.

I guess being a created-by-legislature, public-benefit company, run by political appointees means that you don't actually have to server your customers.....

Re:Why would a transit company.... (1)

puppetman (131489) | about 5 years ago | (#29139153)

Not server - serve. Not-very-entertaining Freudian slip

Re:Why would a transit company.... (0, Troll)

XanC (644172) | about 5 years ago | (#29139217)

I guess being a created-by-legislature, public-benefit company, run by political appointees means that you don't actually have to server your customers.....

It's going to be fun when these people are scheduling and performing surgery!

Re:Why would a transit company.... (1)

radish (98371) | about 5 years ago | (#29139303)

Oh good grief. How about "it'll be fun when we give these people guns and let them run around the world doing what they want". Doesn't make any more sense.

Re:Why would a transit company.... (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | about 5 years ago | (#29139377)

Somehow, I doubt that Obama would put NY MTA officials in charge of surgery!

Re:Why would a transit company.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139429)

wanna bet?
He's already trying to put government in charge of healthcare

Re:Why would a transit company.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139531)

wanna bet?

Yes.

He's already trying to put government in charge of healthcare

Healthcare != Surgery.

And just FYI, the rest of the world does it that way, and it works pretty damn well for us. Pull your head out of your ass and take a look at how insurance companies are raping you.

Re:Why would a transit company.... (1)

ducomputergeek (595742) | about 5 years ago | (#29139219)

Leave and go where? It's not like you can get on another subway company in New York.

Re:Why would a transit company.... (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | about 5 years ago | (#29139791)

It's not like you can get on another subway company in New York.

Except the sandwich making one...... (yeah, yeah, Doctor's Inc. or whatever.....it's a joke)

Re:Why would a transit company.... (4, Insightful)

jmyers (208878) | about 5 years ago | (#29139369)

Most likely because they have ads on their web page. This guy is stealing from a revenue stream (in their mind).

Re:Why would a transit company.... (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | about 5 years ago | (#29139817)

But he's not. In fact, the App Store has been around long enough for the MTA to have made their own app and started selling it with ads on it. It's their fault for not jumping on an opportunity.

Bastards (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | about 5 years ago | (#29140193)

MTA is not a transit company. It's a gathering of extortionists and mobsters. The people cleaning the platforms make nearly 50% more than post-docs at NY research institutions... and the MTA employees are going to be getting something like 4% per year raises for the next 3 years... EVERY YEAR... at a time when mean salaries are plumetting, and the MTA is about to raise the fares twice in one calendar year. Fuck 'em.

I thought this was old news... (3, Interesting)

Animaether (411575) | about 5 years ago | (#29139133)

I thought this was old news...
http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/10/01/089229 [slashdot.org] ...but I guess that was maps, and this is schedules?

Damn near the same situation, though, although I'd say the MTA stands less of a chance in this case (raw data) than in that case (if one could argue that the map design, layout, coloring, etc. makes it enough of a unique piece to be able to claim copyright... how -did- that case end anyway?)

Re:I thought this was old news... (1)

Ironica (124657) | about 5 years ago | (#29139461)

There's lots of precedent for maps being copyrighted works. Thomas Bros. (now owned by Rand McNally) include deliberate small errors in their maps (such as adding short cul-de-sacs that don't actually exist) to catch unlicensed reproduction.

But, a stream of times that public transit arrives at stops? Yeah, no, not copyrightable.

Huh? (2, Funny)

sheepweevil (1036936) | about 5 years ago | (#29139157)

Oh no! Heaven forbid someone knows our train schedule so they can ride our trains! Wait...

Re:Huh? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 5 years ago | (#29139281)

No no no, it's they want people to PAY for those schedules in a future deal to be made.

The MTA provides its schedules to Google Transit...

Uh... okay nevermind about that.

not ideal but... (3, Interesting)

Tim4444 (1122173) | about 5 years ago | (#29139179)

There is some precedence for preventing private distribution of public material. There was a company in Missouri a few years back charging a large fee to get a copy of freely available documents about your home. Since that was already illegal they got shut down. If it wasn't I suspect you'd end up with so many copy cats that it would eventually be difficult to find the actual government site.

India has a similar problem with all sorts of fake government offices popping up trying to rip off tourists.

Re:not ideal but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139241)

There is some precedence for preventing private distribution of public material. ... If it wasn't I suspect you'd end up with so many copy cats that it would eventually be difficult to find the actual government site.

There are a ton of sites that, for a fee, will get you a copy of your free credit report.

Re:not ideal but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139515)

I think they also offer your score, which is NOT free, so they skirt around the law. Still a total dick move, but not technically illegal.

Why pay when paper ones are free? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | about 5 years ago | (#29139191)

Why pay when paper ones are free?

Re:Why pay when paper ones are free? (2, Insightful)

Desler (1608317) | about 5 years ago | (#29139239)

Because it means there is less paper schedules that people just dump into the normal trash?

Re:Why pay when paper ones are free? (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | about 5 years ago | (#29139763)

Well, that's not the only reason.

NYC has more inhabitants than Copenhagen and the NYC metro area probably covers more ground than the greater Copenhagen area. As for the number of lines - I've no idea.

Then Copenhagen bus lines alone are comprised of more than 250 different lines. I for one would not want to try and carry that around with me. Much easier to use a computer. And that's only part of Denmark. I've no clue how many different lines there are if you just cover Denmark.

That's why we have Rejseplanen.dk [rejseplanen.dk] (journey planner). Free of charge, covers all public transportation in Denmark

Re:Why pay when paper ones are free? (1)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | about 5 years ago | (#29139371)

Because that represents more to carry/lose/forget?
Because you don't always have the right paper ones for the route you are using?
Because paper ones will eventually crumpled/torn/worn out?
Because paper ones become outdated when names/numbers/routes change?
Because paper ones make you figure out which operating schedule applies to the current date/time ?

Their iPhone app would actually be much more useful if it was location-aware, and could tell you the nearest stops or station, but it doesn't seem to have that capability. (If it did, I would buy it in a heartbeat.) Google Maps has this ability.

The Public (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139195)

I can't imagine the greater public will hear about this or care much.

WHO CARES? (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 5 years ago | (#29139201)

I can't believe that this the MTA's actions are going to go over well with the public.

Unfortunately, very very few people will ever know about this, and even fewer still will give a shit. The MTA lawyers know this, which isn't to say they care who knows.

This is so stupid (1)

ByzantineAlex (1327353) | about 5 years ago | (#29139203)

Where do I apply to patent the street map of the city ?

Re:This is so stupid (1)

Ironica (124657) | about 5 years ago | (#29139841)

Where do I apply to patent the street map of the city ?

Ok, one, this is about copyright, not patent.

Two, it's about schedules, not maps.

Three, mechanically reproducing a map *is* a violation of copyright. Re-drawing it yourself isn't, but careful... a lot of map printers deliberately include small errors in their maps to catch people who just use their work as a source. You better be prepared to drive the whole terrain and verify it yourself.

I thought this was resolved LONG ago (4, Informative)

erroneus (253617) | about 5 years ago | (#29139259)

You can't copyright "facts." There have been debates and legal wrangling over phone books, schedules and sports statistics over the past 20 years or more to my recollection and every time, the courts decided that "facts" cannot be copyrighted -- only the organization, layout and presentation of the facts can be. All these other things like the blogs and software apps are at the VERY LEAST "derivative works" if anything at all related to the ownership of the data offered up through their original "official" sources.

And if facts ever become a form of intellectual property, you can pretty much kiss ALL human advancement goodbye. Imagine a world where facts and history are no longer available because some jackass corporation decided not to publish because it's not profitable enough.

Re:I thought this was resolved LONG ago (1)

Ant P. (974313) | about 5 years ago | (#29139417)

No need to imagine, it happens all the time in the drugs industry. If you had a patent on a cure for something, were raking in billions a year by only treating its symptoms, and were an immoral greedy bastard, what would you do?

Re:I thought this was resolved LONG ago (1)

Ares (5306) | about 5 years ago | (#29139677)

if you had a patent on a cure for something it would be in your best interests to produce it and make money while the patent is still active. if you had a cure and held it as a trade secret, your best interests (financially at least) are to sit on it. this can, and commonly does, happen in labs all the time. according to my sister, who's in that line of research, there's a cure for the herpes simplex virus out there sitting on a shelf that will never see the light of day because treating the symptoms of herpes is far more lucrative than curing it.

Re:I thought this was resolved LONG ago (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29139645)

Well, nature's just trying to invent better idiots. And some of them become lawyers.

Re:I thought this was resolved LONG ago (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 5 years ago | (#29140253)

And if facts ever become a form of intellectual property, you can pretty much kiss ALL human advancement goodbye.

Get your kisser warmed up... this rot is already well entrenched. In Australia we have a TV media company claiming that any list of the programs it broadcasts constitutes a derivative work of their schedule and therefore infringing [1], while at the same time refusing to licence their schedule to parties that might make use of it (like MythTV users). While (eventually) our High Court sided with the little guy, I won't have to look far to find other instances where copyright claims on aggregations of facts lead to ridiculous demands for royalties.

[1] http://www.icetv.com.au.nyud.net/news/?p=614 [nyud.net]

copyright length insanity (5, Insightful)

drDugan (219551) | about 5 years ago | (#29139277)

<< steps up >>

There can be no rational discussion about copyright until people acknowledge
that current copyright laws, created almost entirely to meet corporate interests,
are completely out of whack with people's expectations and with any semblance of
fairness or social good for individuals.

The current norm is "Life + 70 years" with a comprehensive list here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries'_copyright_length [wikipedia.org]

This means that *NOTHING* created by artists, musicians, or *ANY* of
the culture created today will move into the public domain in your lifetime
(expected lifetime) unless the people or companies who control the rights let
you have access to it through licensing or sales. You will die first before
the vast majority of today's' culture is available to you legally.

That is absurd. It is not how the intellectual property system was ever
intended to work.

<< / steps down off my soapbox >>

Re:copyright length insanity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139405)

i agree and want to subscribe to your newsletter

Re:copyright length insanityKNOCK THEM OFF (4, Funny)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29139501)

This means that *NOTHING* created by artists, musicians, or *ANY* of the culture created today will move into the public domain in your lifetime (expected lifetime) unless the people or companies who control the rights let you have access to it through licensing or sales.

Time to start knocking off the creative element in our society so that we can get that 70 clock to start ticking.

Re:copyright length insanity (1)

MarkvW (1037596) | about 5 years ago | (#29139577)

What it means to me is that talking motion pictures will never go into the public domain by passage of time in my lifetime. That really sucks.

Re:copyright length insanity (1, Insightful)

sbeckstead (555647) | about 5 years ago | (#29139881)

-- Steps up on Soap box --
What does not having the ability to simply use a work vs being able to license it have to do with the price of coffee at Starbucks?
Why must something be public domain?
What difference does it make?
Why do we have to listen to this discussion ad infinitum
-- Steps down --
This means that *NOTHING* created by artists, musicians, or *ANY* of
the culture created today will move into the public domain in your lifetime
(expected lifetime) unless the people or companies who control the rights let
you have access to it through licensing or sales.

Why exactly is this a problem?

Re:copyright length insanity (1)

Inverted Intellect (950622) | about 5 years ago | (#29140053)

Luckily, I live in a nation where copyright laws specifically only forbid for-profit unlicensed copying of works, and thus non-profit sharing of such works, whether over the torrent protocol, ftp or sneakernet, is strictly licit.

MTA has a slam dunk case! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139311)

Since they never run on time, the schedules are clearly a work of fiction and therefore covered under copyright laws as such!

Re:MTA has a slam dunk case! (2, Funny)

megamerican (1073936) | about 5 years ago | (#29139545)

A good attorney could argue that it's a list of facts of times to not show up.

Best part of the article: (5, Insightful)

SOdhner (1619761) | about 5 years ago | (#29139323)

The MTA told the Stamford Advocate that without a license, the iPhone application might provide inaccurate information. [...] Ironically, the MTA's proposed agreement refuses to provide reliable data updates.

I never get tired of listening to the silly reasons people come up with when the *actual* reason is "We hear you're making money off of something. We aren't sure how, but we'd like to be making money off of it instead."

This is what they should do (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about 5 years ago | (#29139333)

Creators of the application should refer to "MetroNorth" rail-road schedules something else like "Mighty North" rail road schedules then make the time for each station "off" by a minute or so.

With this approach, authorities cannot legally come back to say creators are using their data without a license.

How about that?

By the people (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139367)

against the people?

Ah, I love government bureaucracy.

Really makes you look forward to a public option in Health Care. After all, any Veteran can tell you how good amazing their treatment is. . . (anyone suggesting this to be true is a flat out liar).

prior art exists (2, Interesting)

swschrad (312009) | about 5 years ago | (#29139381)

london train schedules were copyrighted in the holmes days, too.

Re:prior art exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29140131)

Too bad this is New York and not London.

Re:prior art exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29140249)

Prior art? Copyright? Interesting? What?

Re:prior art exists (1)

Ironica (124657) | about 5 years ago | (#29140299)

london train schedules were copyrighted in the holmes days, too.

Under US copyright law though?

Referendum (2, Interesting)

copponex (13876) | about 5 years ago | (#29139435)

This is why we need the power to compel referendums for city or county wide issues, and make sure the heads of all departments can be kicked out at the next yearly election by direct democratic action.

Get 1% of the population to sign a petition, get your spot on the ballot, and voila! Government officials miraculously stop acting like they own the place. I know they have some similar policies out West, but know of none in the East.

Re:Referendum (4, Insightful)

Ma8thew (861741) | about 5 years ago | (#29140019)

Because having referenda for everything has worked out great in California.

Re:Referendum (1)

copponex (13876) | about 5 years ago | (#29140161)

Because posting snide and hollow comments has worked out great for your argument.

BART (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29139453)

BART in the SF bay area on the other hand is embracing the developers...
http://www.bart.gov/schedules/developers/

Jeopardy (4, Funny)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | about 5 years ago | (#29139535)

I'll take copyright for $200, Alex. Copyright is defined as "The legal right granted to an author, composer, playwright, publisher, or distributor to exclusive publication, production, sale, or distribution of a literary, musical, dramatic, or artistic work" What is the MTA schedule? Sorry, that's incorrect.

Calling NYCL (2, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | about 5 years ago | (#29139539)

This sounds like a case for New York Country Lawyer - Defending the innocent and the oppressed against the ungodly weight of the CCI - Combined Copyright Interests! A force for good wherever he goes.

Control of Information is Power (2, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | about 5 years ago | (#29139561)

To allow someone else to utilize this information diminishes the power of the New York MTA. It's really all about control. The more ignorant people are the better off the government and corporations are. Too bad most people choose to be ignorant.

And here I was, thinking that... (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#29139575)

...the MTA is owned by the people of New York, and therefore any copyright would mean, that they got the ultimate right... and could maybe even revoke the MTA's right to use it.

Yay for a "free market". :/

Re:And here I was, thinking that... (1)

Jerry Coffin (824726) | about 5 years ago | (#29139849)

[...] the people of New York [ ... ] could maybe even revoke the MTA's right to use it.

That wouldn't make any difference -- the MTA already seems to ignore it completely!

*Public* transportation (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 years ago | (#29139653)

Supported in part by public taxes. So, its public data.

Workaround: don't precisely copy. (3, Funny)

smellsofbikes (890263) | about 5 years ago | (#29139733)

So what if he increments every time listed in the schedule by 1 minute? Then it bears little resemblance to the original text but is still useful. The added plus is that in order to show that his schedule is based on their schedule, they have to violate the DMCA.

Re:Workaround: don't precisely copy. (1)

omnichad (1198475) | about 5 years ago | (#29139965)

Even less secure than ROT13, ROT1 is covered under the DMCA!

Re:Workaround: don't precisely copy. (1)

bagorange (1531625) | about 5 years ago | (#29140145)

Here's another workaround idea: Can this be crowdsourced? Get everyone to agree to inout a certain amount of data?

They owe me. (1)

Pedrito (94783) | about 5 years ago | (#29139759)

Unless their schedule specifies the seconds, they are infringing on my 1440 time of day copyrights and I simply can't let that stand. I'll be seeing them in court!

Sure they have a copyright... (2, Interesting)

lordsid (629982) | about 5 years ago | (#29140063)

The metro north transit has a copyright on the schedule they produced, i.e. styling, layout but they cannot copyright the data within it. If he scrapes the data by hand entering or even an automatic reading of the page and produces a new schedule with it it is an original work.

IANAL, but this my understanding of copyright law.

I hope he can fight this, perhaps the EFF will step in on his behalf.

Australian experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#29140085)

Exactly the same thing happened here in Sydney, Australia. The rail authority went after someone who web-scraped their timetables and put them into an iPhone app. It was resolved happily when the state premier (= state governor) told them to grow up and stop acting like idiots.

Not the first time this has happened (1)

macraig (621737) | about 5 years ago | (#29140209)

I read about this same tactic being used in another region some years ago. IIRC it involved the efforts of a small group to publish regional transit routes online as a convenience, but the local transit authority freaked out and shut it down.

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