[Talk-transit] Again about time tables, and some interesting sites

Michael von Glasow michael at vonglasow.com
Mon Dec 6 18:28:30 GMT 2010

On 12/06/2010 05:07 PM, Michał Borsuk wrote:
> Am 06.12.2010 15:26, schrieb Andrei Klochko:
>> Hello,
>> Yes, in France it's even worse: "the database producer may forbid any 
>> quantitatively or quantitatively substantial extraction from his 
>> database, by all means and in any form"
>> BUT you have this counterpart: "when a database is made available to 
>> the public by the holder of the rights, then he cannot forbid [among 
>> other things] the extraction AND reuse of a quantitatively or 
>> qualitatively non substantial part of the database, by the person who 
>> has licit access to it". 
> So after all us, the "grumpy old men", were right.
>> I only put this line here, to ask the question: what, if many 
>> different people, decide to all take one timetable, and then reuse it 
>> as they want, like for example, by publishing it in a centralized site?
> Then this is the wrong group. Ask a lawyer!
Indeed talk-legal may be the more suitable list for such discussions.

As for database copyright, I can tell you the situation here in Italy 
(and I would expect the situation to be somewhat similar throughout the 
European Union): Database copyright applies to databases in any form, 
even non-electronic (think printed telephone books), though I'm not 
completely sure about how non-trivial a database has to be in order to 
be copyrightable. In any case, the copyright extends to any substantial 
extraction of data (again what is "substantial" is not well-defined and 
may be a gray area). Even if it's done in tiny bits, one record at a 
time, as soon as these are put together again, they will become 
substantial as soon as enough data is gathered (IANAL, the 
interpretation is my own).

However, let's assume the following:

* Public transport companies have a database of all their stops, lines, 
timetables etc. (Organizations that have existed for decades might 
originally have kept this information on paper, but as we have seen 
before, even this may legally be a database.)
* That database was created beforehand, only after that were the stops 
built and lines entered into service.
* Hence, the fact that there is a stop, its name, location, lines and 
all the rest are all data derived from that company's database.
* As a result, even mapping bus stops (let alone lines) would be a 
breach of copyright unless *either* we have permission from the company 
*or* it turns out that the original database is not copyrightable for 
some reason.

The same may apply to other fields of OSM, such as information on street 
names. In their case, however, the decision to name a street in a 
certain way is a legal act or regulation and, as such, cannot be 
copyrighted in many countries. Public transport infrastructure may or 
may not be a similar case.

In fact I remember that at one of the last SOTMs (2009 or 2010 I 
believe) there was a lawyer talking about the legality of mapping 
streets and others, and the key message was: It's a gray area, but don't 
let that discourage you from mapping.
>> Here the data is made publicly available...and if the transporters 
>> are the ultimate producers of the data, then taking it from every 
>> transporter is only copying THEIR "database", which is not big enough 
>> to make a database. You see? 
> No, I don't.
The catch is that the aggregation of these single databases may 
constitute sufficient effort to qualify as a new database.

On a different note: have you taken a look at Transiki yet? In case you 
haven't, it's Steve Coast's second "child" after OSM and their goal is 
just that - to make public transport timetables freely available. You 
might want to get in touch with them - they seem to have an idea similar 
to yours and are still in their beginnings, maybe you can join forces.


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