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Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database 433

An anonymous reader writes "Arthur David Olson, the creator and maintainer of the timezone database used in about every unix/linux platform in use on the planet, just sent the message to the timezone mailing list: 'A civil suit was filed on September 30 in federal court in Boston; I'm a defendant; the case involves the time zone database. The ftp server at has been shut down. The mailing list will be shut down after this message. Electronic mail can be sent to me at I hope there will be better news shortly. --ado' A Google search does not yet reveal anything about this; does someone know what is going on?"
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Civil Suit Filed, Involving the Time Zone Database

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  • by Tridus ( 79566 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @02:00PM (#37629048) Homepage

    This is America, lawyers don't bother with minor details like the law before filing lawsuits. There's lawyer fees to be made!

  • Re:Hang on, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @02:03PM (#37629110) Journal

    Unfortunately, the suit is already filed. "Fuck off, Troll" might be an appropriate response to one of the extortionist nastygrams they tend to send ahead of time, but doing so now would just lead to all sorts of unpleasantness (default judgments and/or contempt, etc...)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 06, 2011 @02:33PM (#37629612)

    *North America.

    We sincerely couldn't care less for the legal abominations happening on US.

    Your IP system is so medieval that trolls are legit.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @02:58PM (#37630030) Homepage

    The defendant in this case should file an immediate claim for recover of damages for the down time suffered plus attorneys fees.

    It is facts being copied, not a creative work. The facts are coming from other sources -- they are not making these facts up out of thin air. That they collected and sold the facts is not relevant -- there is no blood, sweat or tears to be accounted for in copyright claims. We have seen this before in phone books, in baseball statistics and more. I can't think of a single instance where factual data was protected by copyright and succeeded in court. (I even recall an attempt at a city or county government asserting copyright claims over laws! You know, the words on pages we are all bound by?)

    So unless someone can cite a case where it was facts (and not formatting) that were successfully protected in court under copyright law, I don't think this case will fly too high.

    This will be expensive for defendants, however and so I would recommend preparing to collect damages sooner rather than later.

  • by Jaryn ( 880486 ) on Thursday October 06, 2011 @03:00PM (#37630074)

    Atlas companies have used copyright traps before.. Just add a couple fake towns on your map, and if you find another company selling a map with those towns, you know you can sue them for copying your map.

    Could a company add a fake time zone to a list of time zones, name it something funny (creative), and claim copyright infringement when it appears in a database? Since really, it's not a fact at all, the made up entry was... art?

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson