Dutch railways upset about popular iPhone application
The NS (Dutch railways) is not pleased with the Dutch iPhone application ‘Trein’ (‘Train’) developed by IT student Dennis Stevense. The programme fully optimises data from the NS’ mobile site for the iPhone and is currently at the top of the list of applications you can buy in the Netherlands, costing a mere 2,39 euro. A spokesperson for the NS told Bright.nl that the student did not get permission from them to use their schedules and that they plan to release their own application shortly.
The question is whether train schedule information is covered by copyright law. I’ve asked a copyright lawyer this morning and will keep you posted.
UPDATE: Dutch copyright lawyer and photographer Olivier says:
“Not likely to qualify for copyright, but perhaps database protection. The schedules may not qualify for database protection if NS is not able to show that it invested (spent money) in the database, separately from the investment made in the operation of the trains. (The schedule database may be a so-called spin-off from the main activity of making the trains run on time, and informing the NS customers about the schedule.) The spin-off exemption to protection is not always applied correctly though.
Even if it qualifies for database protection, I am not sure that the *app* (and, consequently app maker) would infringe on the database rights, as it apparently only allows the *user* to more easily access the NS database. As far as I know, cases in the Netherlands have always dealt with instances where the content/database from one site was extracted in some manner or fashion to a database on another site.
And then there is always tort.”