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

Pieter Colpaert pieter.colpaert at okfn.org
Sun Mar 8 17:31:00 UTC 2015

Thanks a lot Stefan! Clears up a lot for me!


On 2014-10-09 16:55, Stefan Kaufmann wrote:
> On 09.10.2014 14:49, Pieter Colpaert wrote:
>> A legal question: are public transit schedules copyrightable?
> I came across that same question during research for my diploma thesis 
> (shameless plug: http://dbis.eprints.uni-ulm.de/1054/) and found that 
> several German transit agencies and transit service providers had 
> already tackled the issue as far as German Urheberrecht was concerned. 
> The relevant paper is FoPS 70825, „Eigentums- und Nutzungsrechte im 
> öffentlichen Verkehr“ by Gennaro et al, and the final report has since 
> been published (albeit in German), at 
> <http://www.mobilitaet21.de/programme/fops/eigentums-und-nutzungsrechte-im-offentlichen-verkehr/>
>> 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.
> FoPS 70825 takes the latter point of view: Information on stop 
> location is nothing else than an observeable datum, with no creative 
> effort whatsoever going into its collection or aggregation. I would 
> also disagree on your urban planning perspective: This “optimal 
> schedule” is often a result of land use and ridership pattern 
> information. Different schedulers would likely end up with at least a 
> similar schedule.
>> 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?
> Unlikely in the most basic form, i.e., the “pure” schedule data. 
> Gennaro et al argue that in its most “refined” form, i.e., the dataset 
> used for giving that totally _perfect_ schedule information that (in 
> their opinion) only the German transit authorities themselves can 
> provide, sui generis database rights _might_ apply.
> This might also be the reason why German agencies (and, leading them 
> on, VDV) keep pushing so called “open services” instead of open data. 
> (A misnomer, by the way. Nothing about those services is “open”).
>> 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.
> ACK with the strong statement. Timetables should, at most, have a 
> Zero-license attached to them, just for informational purposes. I just 
> don't see anything of this happening within German transit authorities 
> for the near future, though.
> Maybe we should just pull a Michael Kreil on them, scraping the data 
> and dumping it on the web? Any input? And if so, would any of you be 
> willing to make this a focus issue for OpenCityCamp in Stuttgart this 
> November? I wanted to have a transport track at OCC, anyways :D 
> (Disclosure: I am an organizer of that event).
> regards,
> -stk
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