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Dutch railways upset about popular iPhone application


iPhone beaver

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 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.”

(Link:, Photo: Stevenojobs)

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  1. Branko Collin says:

    Probably not copyright law, but database law. Whether the database is covered by database law is another matter.

    Since the EU has introduced a database right by the way, the database industry in the EU pretty much came to a stand still. Turns out, if people can remix your data, it’s good for everyone.

  2. Toby Sterling says:


    I wonder how much the NS paid their developers to come up with this app that a single student built in his spare time.

    And I wonder which will be better.

  3. Márcia W. says:

    Comment # 2 reminds me of the all the entanglements surrounding the OV chipcard….

  4. Jori says:

    A bit lame from the NS, they could have taken advantadge out of this, if they sponsered the student inmediately. NS could have gotten Crowssourcing for Free, but instead the offend themselves and the public by being so stupid about this

  5. Orangemaster says:

    Jori, you’re absolutely right. I remember when friends of mine made an improved version of the NS website ( or smth), to get the NS to realize not everyone used the same browser.

    And I’ve added you in my personal Twitter :)

  6. Mag Trein opzoeken hoe laat de trein vertrekt?…

    De NS is niet blij met het feit dat iPhone-eigenaars snel en gemakkelijk kunnen zien wanneer de trein vertrekt. Of nou ja, met het feit dat die mensen dat doen met de Trein applicatie van informatica-student Dennis Stevense. De NS wil met haar eigen iP…

  7. […] NS is niet zo blij met dit initiatief. Ze blijken zelf plannen te hebben om een soortgelijke applicatie te maken. Ze willen de ‘Trein’ applicatie verbieden omdat Stevense geen toestemming heeft om de gegevens uit de database te gebruiken. In een interview met Bright vertelt Stevense dat de NS de informatie op internet een spin-off is van het spoorboekje. Volgens hem kunnen ze zich niet beroepen op het databankrecht omdat ze geen investeringen hebben gedaan in deze databank. Advocaat Oliver Oosterbaan beaamt dit: het databankrecht is alleen van toepassing als blijkt dat de NS een substantiële investering heeft gedaan in deze databank. (bron: 24Oranges). […]

  8. Nice post man i just signed up to flickr to!

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