UPDATE: iRail is back online: http://blog.tuinslak.org/2010/07/irail-is-back/
NMBS is the only company in Belgium that is taking care of transport by train that doing such a good job (mind the irony). Recently it became however expert in “Intellectual Property”. It hired lawyers to sue anyone who is infringing their unreasonable copyright terms (→ warning: this link is an actual infringement).
This is the letter someone got from their lawyers for linking and explaining to people how to ask a compensation for train-delays (which happens quite regularly).
Okay, you might eventually understand their frustration: people learn how to get some of their money back in times that is financially hard for them. But then explain this case to me:
Yeri Tiete, proud owner of one of these iphone things, decided two years ago that he should write an easy to use application on which he could check the timetables: irail.be. He sent an e-mail back then to the nmbs that he created that application. 2 years later, the NMBS replies that using the time tables from their website is infringing their intellectual property and if he does not close his application immediately they will not hesitate to sue him. But… Isn’t this application actually a good thing for them? On top of that Yeri has never earned a cent with his application. Isn’t this application promoting the use of public transport? Should these timetables not be Open Data? Does the NMBS actually have the right to take away our rights?
I want to ask Yeri to open source his irail.be app asap or even, if Yeri doesn’t want to be in charge of this action, dedicate his application to the public domain. By doing that, only the users of the application are suable. Would they really pay even more lawyers to gain a little money? Are they so desperate that they sue their customers to get a little money?
I’m a little jealous. They got a personal letter from the NMBS asking to close down their site/service/application. So don’t mind the links down here, they’re only copyright infringements…
-Pieter — follow me on identi.ca
PS: if you’re a Belgian, feel free to join me in my protest: create a page with links to a page at nmbs.be