Plucky commuter Chris Schoenfeld made an iPhone app called Station Stops that tells you when Metro North trains are scheduled to arrive and depart. He enters and updates the info manually from Metro North’s timetables, which we thought was public information. But he says MTA, which runs Metro North, wants him to cut it out or pay them licensing fees, retroactive to his October 2008 launch date, in return for which they’d supply him with a “data product.” As this product does not automatically update, and would require Schoenfeld’s constant vigilance anyway, he asked for changes to the contract, which he says were denied…
MTA says they just want to make sure Station Stops info is accurate — though the money is a nice plus. “The bigger picture is – why the hell is MTA licensing this data at all?” asks Schoenfeld. Commenters at Cult of Mac have the same question.
An annoyed Schoenfeld has taken to running a provocative banner (“MTA’s Legal Department Wants to Silence StationStops.com”) on his blog, and posting related stories that support his POV (“Boston’s MBTA Releases Schedule Data Free To Developers – You’re Move MTA!”).
It’s 83 degrees in New York right now. We wonder if we owe Apple any money.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on August 20, 2009