[Open-transport] Public Transport schedules in Europe: legal question

Stéphane Guidoin stephane at opennorth.ca
Thu Oct 9 13:16:23 UTC 2014

Interesting question. My answer will be a bit off because in concerns
Canada and a different topic, but it could inform your thinking:

Here in Canada, a guy crowdsourced/retro-engineered the postal code
geospatial lookup. Post Canada, a Crown Corporation, is the one building
the postal code database with the corresponding addresses (and thus,
geospatial limits). The situation is pretty similar to schedule (in my mind
at least) So Post Canada is suing the guy over copyright infringement.

And the defendant argues that postal code are not copyrightable because
it's a common fact. The case is not settled yet, so there is no legal
answer available yet, but some of the legal specialist who have commented
the case said that Post Canada will have difficulties to win its point.
(However, there are some slight difference between copyright in Canada and


On Thu, Oct 9, 2014 at 8:49 AM, Pieter Colpaert <pieter.colpaert at okfn.org>

> Dear all,
> A legal question: are public transit schedules copyrightable?
> So there are two parts as this is a "database":
> 1. Copyright
> Has there been a "creative" aspect to these schedules?
>  → One could say yes from the urban planning perspective: the team that
> created the optimal schedule for that situation has created a time schedule
> that can be copyrighted
>  → One could say no from the customer informing perspective: the data are
> a logical consequence of vehicles arriving and leaving.
> 2. Sui generis
> When compiling a database with the time schedules, there is an investment
> made. Yet, that investment is needed in any case as they need it to operate
> their public transport network. So there is no sui generis law applicable?
> When in doubt, it seems good to choose the best option for our case, which
> is saying: public transit schedules cannot be protected. This is also the
> case for for instance the white pages or the results of a lottery.
> If agreed, we should make a strong statement with Open Knowledge Open
> Transport, and for instance, make sure the question "are transport
> timetables openly licensed?" in the census (http://global.census.okfn.org/)
> dissapears.
> What do you think?
> Kind regards,
> Pieter
> --
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> Open Knowledge Foundation Belgium
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