Friday, September 25, 2009

JC Decaux should backpedal on iPhone app threat

I'm quoted in today's Irish Times on the threats made by JC Decaux against Fusio resulting in their taking down their Dublin Bikes App.

Leave aside for a moment the PR stupidity of this strategy.

Ignore if you will the dubious legal basis of their claim. (Without going into the finer points of copyright in facts, database rights, clickwrap agreements or possible passing off, the vague nature of their complaint - "Following our conversion, I confirm that you do not have the rights to use the information published on the web site In particular the data concerning the stations is the property of JCDecaux and cannot be used without our prior authorisation" - makes it clear that they have little idea what they are talking about.)

Think instead about the issue of principle. A body which is operating in partnership with Dublin City Council is attempting to stop an Irish company from providing - free of charge - facts to the public about the service which they offer, without giving any justification for doing so, and without offering an alternative of their own. (I'm happy to see that at least some of our politicians understand the absurdity of this.)

I spoke to the press office in Dublin City Council today, who made it clear that they regard this matter as nothing to do with them. But why not? DCC were happy to work with Fusio to develop the app. Is there no provision in their contract with JCD establishing an obligation to provide information to the public about the service? Will they make sure that future contracts address this type of situation? (And - while I'm on the topic of the contract - why does JCD own the domain Is there any provision in the contract for the domain to revert to DCC on its expiry?)

1 comment:

  1. Whilst claiming copyright and IP on information that is and should be public domain is quite detrimental to the general progress of society. I especially think this issue is morally wrong, especially that the app in question is not monetizing this information it is providing a service.

    It is exactly this kind of thinking that made me slightly paranoid and to take down and stop developing an interactive screen scraping application for Translink route data to present in a more usable format (Northern Ireland's transport service).