iPhone apps

I actually don’t have an iPhone – just a iTouch, but I still use the little applications that you can download and install. Anyhoo – CityRail are threatening to sue a guy who developed a timetable app for the Sydney trains and ferries.

RailCorp is threatening a Sydney man with legal action after he created an iPhone application that allows people to monitor timetables for Sydney trains and ferries.

How dare someone actually try and be useful!

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17 Responses

  1. It appears to be a copyright issue. Cityrail provides timetable info on it’s website. They are well within their rights to object to this guy copying this info in order to make money.

  2. Is that really the best use of the resources of CityRail?

    And why don’t they create their own app if they want to prevent anyone else doing it?

  3. Well, there we go…there are no moral or practical implications, say Kohlbergian ones, for IP law in the verity of emerging Web 2.0. Do I have any rights or a say? Or just the two parties duking it out over the apparent reproduction-as-format-translation?

  4. Spot on Alastair. According to Business Law of Australia (Vermeesch and Lindgren), re the topic of intellectual property, “The work must ‘orginate’ from the work and labour of the author, although the subject matter may be trite”. And citing a leading case…”The result differed (but) the ‘work’ was found to lack originality…”.

    Therefore Mr. Singh needs to go back to the drawing board and produce something with sufficient originality so as to avoid potential copyright infringement.

    Or on the other hand CitiRail might like to employ Mr. Singh so as to (as joni notes) provide something useful.

  5. I’ve had this problem before (copyright affecting innovation / usefulness of software) and it is a tricky issue.

    Technically speaking, CityRail has a copyright on their timetable as, while it is freely available information, it falls under “database copyright” where the compilation of data (free or not) is copyrighted.

    Morally speaking, I cannot see where CityRail get off. Nobody PAYS for the timetables, they are meant to be available to all. If I hadn’t worked for SRA in a previous job, I would be surprised. The fact of the matter is, though, that CityRail is divided into fiefdoms and the political battles internally are amazing (or depressing depending on your point of view). That they would try to shut down something useful simply because they don’t own or control it is not a shock

  6. I’m more interested in how to make an application. Some young bloke in America taught himself how to makes apps from web sites, made a game for iPhone/iPods, and pocketed $600,000 in the first two months.

    Joni, highly recommend that you buy the Vegas Pool app for your Touch. Costs a whopping $1.19 and I can’t stop playing the bloody thing.

    Forget about downloading the free chess and checkers games – they’re too bloody hard to beat.

  7. This would be an interesting itellectual property legal challenge…

    I would suggest that Mr Singh would have a fairly solid case if CityRail have no similar product on the market…he could possibly countersue if CityRail suddenly popped up with a similar app…

    Copyright info. on databases – for those interested

    http://www.copyright.org.au/information/introduction/intro-3.htm

    Click on compilations…

  8. TB, my understanding is that Mr Singh is using the information compiled by CitiRail alone to produce his own ‘something’.

    Re the link, it’s compilations – that is, one gains X data from one place, Y data from somewhere else and Z data from elsewhere and the result is an original work.

    To avoid copyright infringement a work must have a certain amount of originality and not just a copy of X data in a different format.

    As mentioned, I think that CitiRail should be offering Mr Singh a job.

  9. I just learnt what an ipod was just the other day.
    An iPhone and an itouch?.

    Someone out there wants me left behind, if i ever find this bloke and his ideas. 😈

  10. ‘Allo allo, it’s my mate Aqua. They’re just some gizmos that the advertising people tell you that you can’t live without.

  11. Min

    Agree job offer.

    but Singh has IP on his app – CR will own copyright on the tables because of “effort” in compilation…if CR suddenly have an app like Singh I’d be looking seriously at the code.

  12. TB, the point under the Trade Practices Act is the originality OF THE DATA and the originality of the compilation.

    CR would be claiming copyright due to the effort of compiling the data. If Mr Singh chooses to reproduce this same data which he has obtained from CR (irrespective of whether it’s on an Isomething) in more or less it’s original format then he is in strife re the Trade Practices Act.

  13. TB..you’re a musician. You can take a song and instead of playing it on piano, you play it on guitar. This doesn’t make it an original song.

    However re compilation, you can take a couple of bars from this tune, a couple of bars from that tune but if there is sufficient in the middle that is original, then you have claim that this is an original melody.

  14. Min,

    I think you are getting a little confused about TBs point.

    It does not matter what the SOURCE of the data is, he has IP rights to the code (software) that enables it to be displayed. Breach of their copyright on the data does not mean that CR obtains the right to the program he wrote.

    A good analogy is a CD or DVD recorder – it is not illegal to sell something that makes duplicating copyright material possible, it is the unlicensed use of copyright material that is illegal.

  15. Huh..well of course it’s nothing to do with the program, it’s to do with the originality of the data that he has used on this program. And CityRail is claiming copyright to this. CityRail is not claiming copyright of Mr Singh’s program..of course not.

    Plus of course there is always the reason of ‘reasonable use’ and for educational purposes. Mr. Singh may indeed be able to mount a counter-claim under this criteria, but that’s up to him.

  16. Copyright can also be used for protection of information. The Cityrail timetables published by these app developers are out of date – and will annoy CityRail customers. The only ‘legal’ course CityRail has is to cite copyright ownership and ask him to take it down.

  17. And now NSW Premier Rees has stepped in to get CityRail to talk to the developers. Rees has said:

    I’ve asked [Transport] Minister [David] Campbell to speak to RailCorp. They will meet with the app developers to negotiate how to use the info accurately.

    Some sanity has prevailed.

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