Blogger Runs into Trouble with New York Transit Authorities Over iPhone App

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New York’s Metropolitan Transit Authority wants to derail an independent iPhone app that publishes train schedules for violation of copyright.

Called Station Stops, the $2.99 app available on iTunes, is the work of commuter Chris Schoenfeld, who also writes the blog of the same name.

The app provides the timetable of the Metro-North Railroad for regularly-scheduled trains departing and arriving from Grand Central Station.

The MTA provides its schedules to Google Transit, but doesn’t release the data publicly.

To build his app, Schoenfeld did it the old way — by entering data manually from the published public schedule.

Schoenfeld, who has often been critical of MTA service, got a nastygram from MTA lawyers ordering him to stop presenting himself as an official service — and pay licensing fees for the schedules.

The MTA reckons the developer owes them a share of profits from the app, back pay the licensing fees. And a $5,000 non-refundable fee.

Schoenfeld’s not interested in ponying up. His sensible David versus ham-fisted Goliath story received a lot of sympathetic local news coverage — but that didn’t stop the MTA from asking Apple to take down the app on Aug. 14.

As of this writing, Station Stops is still for sale.

As one station stops blog reader, Karen Cavanaugh commented:
“I always use Station Stops to check the train schedule when I visit my daughter in Hoboken, NJ. I never think of it as an “OFFICIAL” website. I’ve been to the official website and it’s awkward.”

Via Stamford Advocate, Greater Greater Washington