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EFF Wins Protection For Time Zone Database 71

Posted by samzenpus
from the it's-about-time dept.
First time accepted submitter TempestRose writes "The trials and tribulations of the time zone database sued by an astrology software company are finally over. From the article: 'The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is pleased to announce that a copyright lawsuit threatening an important database of time zone information has been dismissed. The astrology software company that filed the lawsuit, Astrolabe, has also apologized and agreed to a 'covenant not to sue' going forward, which will help protect the database from future baseless legal actions and disruptions.'"
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EFF Wins Protection For Time Zone Database

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  • Re:whooo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sique (173459) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @09:17AM (#39135595) Homepage

    In most EU legislations, databases are copyright (or Author's right) protected, even when the actual items in the database are not. So a database of historical events or facts actually can be protected.

  • Re:whooo (Score:5, Informative)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @10:01AM (#39135835)

    In most EU legislations, databases are copyright (or Author's right) protected, even when the actual items in the database are not. So a database of historical events or facts actually can be protected.

    As I understand copyright law, that is also the case in the US if the collection meets some minimum requirements - however the underlying facts aren't copyrightable; which was the issue with the TZ dB. Anyone can compile a list of sunrise times from copyrighted sources and publish it; they can't however copy the book it's in and make it available to others.

  • Incompetence (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @10:03AM (#39135837)

    Both Astrolabe and (especially) their counsel were incompetent here. Counsel never even served Eggert and Olson after filing a complaint September 30th. IANAL, but I think that they had to do that by January, and I assume that that had something to do with the EFFs statement [eff.org] January 12th :

    "Today, we’re taking the battle to Astrolabe, and starting the process for seeking sanctions under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.Rule 11 requires litigants to conduct a reasonable inquiry into the facts and law before filing any paper with the court. Obviously, that didn’t happen here. Astrolabe now has 21 days to withdraw its Complaint. If it doesn’t do so, the Rule 11 “safe harbor” expires and we’re free to ask the court for sanctions.

    Jan 12 + 21 days is Thursday, February 2nd. I imagine that Astrolabe and their counsel dropped the suit to avoid these sanctions.

  • Copyright trap (Score:3, Informative)

    by yogidog98 (1800862) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @12:24PM (#39137267)

    I think what most Database authors do is that they put bogus data entries into their database and if they can find their entries in someone elses database, they can show that it's a copy rather then a independent work.

    These are commonly called 'copyright traps' or 'fictitious entries'

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fictitious_entry [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:whooo (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 23, 2012 @01:07PM (#39137849)

    All of these are facts, but only one of them is true, and that's a fact.

    No it isn't. By definition facts are true. The bogus data are not facts.

    No they aren't. In computer science, a fact is a data value, without any implications about the trustworthiness of the data. In general science, a fact is a verifyable observation, with no certainties about its truthfulness until said verification has been done. In law a fact is a statement which is found to be true by a trier (like a jury), which still doesn't make it true per sé. I think in philosophy a fact is actually true, but that's not my area, ask someone with a beard and Birkenstocks.

    There are many false facts, they simply have a tendency to stop being facts once their falsehood becomes well known.

  • Flame Fail (Score:5, Informative)

    by FreeUser (11483) on Thursday February 23, 2012 @02:29PM (#39138949)

    While most would share your assumption that fact implies truth, and indeed the first three definitions of the word support that view, the 4th and 5th definitions clearly allow for "false facts":

    factâ â[fakt]
    noun

    1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: Your fears have no basis in fact.
    2. something known to exist or to have happened: Space travel is now a fact.
    3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true: Scientists gather facts about plant growth.
    4. something said to be true or supposed to have happened: The facts given by the witness are highly questionable.
    5. Law . Often, facts. an actual or alleged event or circumstance, as distinguished from its legal effect or consequence. Compare question of fact, question of law.

    In legal terms, "false facts" not only exist, they are arguably quite common in legal circles. Most defense attorneys would probably admit as much, over a pint of beer.

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