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ICANN avoids bogus time-zone lawsuit

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, 10:18:25 (UTC), Domain Policy

The company alleging that the critical internet time-zone database infringes its copyright has dropped its lawsuit, admitting that you can’t copyright historical facts.

ICANN took over maintenance of the TZ in October, after astrology software maker Astrolabe sued Arthur David Olson and Paul Eggert, who had managed it for nearly 30 years.

The database is used by countless applications and ubiquitous programming platforms, and ICANN considers it a “an essential service on the Internet” and therefore within its remit.

Astrolabe sued in the belief that the database stole copyrighted information from its own software. ICANN was not named in the complaint, even after it took over the TZ.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation helped in the defense of the case, and yesterday announced that Astrolabe has dropped the suit, apologized, and promised not to sue again.

According to the EFF, Astrolabe said:

Astrolabe’s lawsuit against Mr. Olson and Mr. Eggert was based on a flawed understanding of the law. We now recognize that historical facts are no one’s property and, accordingly, are withdrawing our Complaint. We deeply regret the disruption that our lawsuit caused for the volunteers who maintain the TZ database, and for Internet users.

In a statement on its web site today, Astrolabe says:

Moon void in Pisces. Feelings shape the trends; settings and environments shape feelings. True sacrifice succeeds; passive/aggressive behavior fails.

Indeed.

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