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Want to get sued for publishing a schedule?

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The blog StationStops, which writes fairly critical articles about the service on the Metro-North railroad service in New York has been wrangling with the New York Metro Transit Authority about schedules.

Schedules!  Who’d of thought that could be controversial?

Chris Schoenfeld, who runs StationStops, created an iPhone application which provides the Metro-North train schedule.  The whole idea was that he didn’t like the paper schedules that were available because they were hard to sort through and read.  And, the MTA’s website and ways of publishing their schedule to an iPhone didn’t work for Chris, because they relied on a live internet connection – something you don’t always have  when you’re in a subway in New York.  2006 Tennessee State Fair Model Train exhibit by Brent and MariLynn

So, he did what any good nerd would do – he fixed the problem for himself, realized that it might be useful to other people, and built a product around it.  Since then, he’s gotten cease-and-desist orders from the MTA and requests for licensing revenue.

It shocks me that the MTA would do this – what possible good can come from this kind of action?  Even if originally they thought that they might be able to get a few thousand dollars in licensing money from Chris, wouldn’t they realize that they’re burning much more goodwill? 

And most likely, the outcome will be that hundreds of apps or sites like this pop up just to spite the bureaucrats.  Here’s more coverage of the story:

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Written by Harry Hollander

August 20, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Posted in scheduling

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