Berlin’s BVG bans handy iPhone metro app; Dutch Rail threatens iPhone train timetable developer

“Berlin public transportation company BVG has banned a popular iPhone application which helps to navigate the city’s vast metro system with over 170 stations,” Jan Libbenga reports for The Register. “Meanwhile, in the Netherlands Dutch Rail is threatening a student who developed a nifty train timetable for the iPhone. Both BVG and Dutch Rail claim the apps violate their copyright.”

“The German iPhone App Fahr-Info-Berlin was developed by 21-year-old student Jonas Witt, and has been downloaded over 20,000 times from the iTunes App Store since it first appeared in July,” Libbenga reports.

“When BVG began to notice its popularity, it told Witt to remove the app from iTunes because of copyright issues,” Libbenga reports. “BVG also said it plans to develop its own version of the application soon.”

More details in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Note: Unsurprising, since similar cases happened years ago in San Francisco and New York City. See: Subway authorities send ‘cease and desist’ letters to free iPod subways maps site owner – October 01, 2005


  1. Both BVG and Dutch Rail claim the apps violate their copyright.

    Good thing copyright laws aren’t out of control, huh? If ACTA takes hold, expect this kind of thing to become 10 times more ridiculous and oppressive.

  2. Dutch Rail and the student are already in talks to develop an iPhone app together: an elegant solution to the problem.
    Less elegant is Dutch Rail’s idea to use the app to silently gather info about their individual clients.

  3. What a pity!

    I used Fahr-Info-Berlin to get around that city whilst negotiating the distribution agreement for a Mac-based digital signage product and even recommended it to the developer’s CEO who now has it on his iPhone as does the rest of his team.

  4. If it violates their so-called copyright they shouldn’t let me print the timetable too from their site. It’s all bullshit anyway, this is public transport (though the company went private 10 years ago) the info should be available to the public.

    Maybe Dutch Rail should focus on getting their trains to ride on time, instead of selling out once public space to big business, turning stations into shopping malls and cutting costs in maintenance.

  5. The real tragedy here is that these Quasi Public agencies quickly forget who owns them!
    Jebus! Who pays for the shiatty, inefficient service these people privde?
    ALL PUBLIC transit maps should be public domain.
    For Mother’s sake! I can get the plans for the Space Shuttle if I want! Why? Because we fscking PAID FOR THEM.

  6. CD: … than a snot-nosed student did in his spare time.

    @CD hey, it’s hardly very grown-up of you to call the developer of this cool app by such a name. What have you against him? Please think before you type and possibly hurt someone’s feelings, especially someone you don’t know anything about (other than he created a cool iPhone app).


  7. @ldm,
    My guess is that they are using copyrighted symbols or maps right off the train company’s site. I’m sure the app could be reworked to be legal. Although, we are talking about Europe here…..

  8. These companies pay lots of money to develop their maps. They have every right to ask that other companies not use them commercially without their permission. If these students or companies want to make time tables, perhaps they should consider making their own maps or somehow interface with Goggle Maps to do it.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.