Berlin Metro Demands Removal Of Free iPhone Timetable App

from the wouldn't-want-people-to-know-when-to-take-a-train... dept

Every day, we wake up hoping that some bit of common sense will find its way into the world when it comes to copyright issues, and yet every day we seem to find out about more and more ridiculous situations. For example, the Berlin Metro system has ordered a 21-year-old student to stop distributing an iPhone app that helps travelers look up a train schedule. I've used similar apps for train schedules in the US, and they're quite useful. In fact, the convenience of them makes it more likely that I would ride a train. So what's the complaint? Copyright, of course, with a touch of jealousy thrown in.

The Berlin Metro people are claiming that the application somehow violates their copyright on the train schedule and map. It's unclear whether or not there's any substance to the copyright claim. While in the US you can't copyright facts (such as a train schedule), in Europe they do have "database rights," which allow someone to copyright a collection of facts. Perhaps a timetable might fall under such a definition, though it would still be ridiculous to stop this app from being offered.

But, based on statements from the folks at the Berlin Metro, it's clear that this is not just a copyright issue. It's a jealousy issue:
That is our copyright and Apple is one of the richest firms in the world.
This fits with the psychological theory that many people are upset at being better off if it means that someone else is in an even better position. In this case, the Berlin Metro is worse off, because fewer people will use the Metro (and pay for it) because it's not as convenient to get the information. But according to the Berlin Metro, that's fine, because Apple is too rich (even though this app doesn't make Apple any money). Logic, apparently, is not a strong suit of the folks who run the Berlin Metro.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Killer_Tofu (profile), Nov 6th, 2008 @ 11:20am

    Me too...

    "Every day, we wake up hoping that some bit of common sense will find its way into the world when it comes to copyright issues, ..."

    Me too. Although about a lot more than just copyright.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Pragmatist, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    I still don't get it

    I realize that in the domain of copyright logic is rarely an issue of interest but I'm completely stumped by this. Isn't it fair to say that Berlin Metro makes this information available to the public for free? If that's the case then retardation is the only real explanation for Berlin Metro shutting down this not-for-profit venture. Great idea, shut down a service that increases patronage.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    B, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 11:45am

    They are probably concerned with errors on his part causing them grief with their customers.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Porf, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 11:50am

    Re:

    Nah, that's not why they're complaining. They're mad at themselves for not thinking about this first. Way to attract passengers, you morons.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:03pm

    Any bets on how long before they publish their own app?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Matt, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:09pm

    Re:

    Sure John: Never. Period. They wont' do it.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    mischab1, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:11pm

    Re:

    Never. They are blinded by jealousy. They don't want anything they consider theirs to help to make the iphone more useful. Never considering that the iphone app might make their services more convient to use.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:19pm

    this is

    a case of cutting your nose fewer ways to obtain train info = fewer passengers one word to the metro STUPID.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Binh, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:38pm

    Similar Project

    Someone in Toronto has started a similar project of an intelligent transit route planning tool

    http://myttc.ca

    I hope it does not suffer the same, idiotic fate!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    thomas, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:43pm

    Re: Re:

    Can you picture the Berlin Metro people trying to write an application for the apple store? Most likely it would not only give you the wrong train times, but tell you to take the wrong train.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Jeff, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 12:52pm

    That's crazy

    but typical of a public institution... ...

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 1:07pm

    Logic, apparently, is not a strong suit of the folks who read this list either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    identicon
    Kiba, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 1:11pm

    Re:

    Anonymous Coward, please point out the illogic of our fellow commentator instead of resorting to ad hominem attack.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    identicon
    Francis Burdett, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 1:12pm

    to go offtopic

    not one to go overboard praising public transport or public companies

    but

    The U-Bahn and the S-Bahn were from my vantage point as a recent tourist, were astoundingly efficient modes of transport.

    Even more so that the more modern Madrid subway.

    They _really do _ run the trains on time, down to the exact minute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 1:18pm

    Re:

    Funniest thing I have read all day. I need that. An organization concerned about their customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 3:28pm

    Damn Yankees!

    Like all the rest: going after Microsoft, the iTunes Store, etc. this is because it's an American company. Zeropeans can't help themselves when it comes to this....

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 4:09pm

    That's what I meant by ...

    ... "Dog in the Manger".

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Petréa Mitchell, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 4:34pm

    Jealousy unlikely

    I think it's more "hey, they're messing with our stuff".

    B is also correct that they may be worried about misinformation.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 5:04pm

    Re: Jealousy unlikely

    Yeah it may stem the erroneous idea that Berlin has a metro system.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Kieran Huggins, Nov 6th, 2008 @ 5:24pm

    Re: Similar Project

    We've been careful not to infringe on the TTC's copyright, and even compiled our own database... I don't know if this is the case in Berlin.

    Since our data is open source, we've been encouraging 3rd party development and recently saw the release of an iPhone app with our data: Red Rocket

    The TTC has not commented on our work at all... they certainly haven't tried to interfere, and that's good enough for me ;-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    philmore, Nov 7th, 2008 @ 4:50am

    Not quite accurate

    Actually, the article is not quite correct.
    The BVG (Metro company in Berlin) only lamented the use of copyrighted map images/graphics, which were subsequently excluded from the app. The guy who made it then crowdsourced the mapping (via a different iphone app with GPS enabled pinpointing of individual stations) and republished the map with his own map.
    See this german article for an accurate description of what happened. http://www.basicthinking.de/blog/2008/11/04/bvg-und-fahrplan-info-iphone-app-ii/

     

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  22.  
    identicon
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