NSW Premier on open access to timetables

Trainview screenshot

Image from Trainview.

Last week I wrote that RailCorp had threatened the makers of an iPhone app that shows public transit timetables with copyright infringement. Asher Moses reported on Monday that NSW Premier Nathan Rees has "indicated he would override RailCorp's decision and force the bureaucracy to meet the mobile software developers and work out a way they can use the timetable data."

This is encouraging news from the highest levels of NSW government. We can only hope that this is a sign of things to come, and that NSW and other Australian Governments will realise the value in making material open – particularly material that has been created with public funds.

There is still, however, a problem with copyright law that allows the compilers of facts to claim copyright in the facts themselves. This sort of matter shouldn't have to go all the way to the Premier – part of the copyright balance we've generally accepted requires pure information – facts – to be free to reuse, without permission. Lets just hope that the High Court doesn't continue to create a permission based culture in the Nine v IceTV appeal; the cost to innovation is just too high.