New Haven (WTNH) - A blogger that created an application for the iPhone has beenasked to cease and desist by the Metropolitan Transit Authority(MTA) because they say he is distributing their train scheduleswithout their consent.
Chris Schoenfeld says he set up his blog to keep Metro Northcommuters informed and give them a place to air their complaints.But now he says the MTA is trying to silence him.
Shoenfeld started blogging three years ago when he went with hiswife on her commute to New York on Metro North.
"There was no seats - we were in a bar car because they had runout of working trains to seat people," he said.
After that he created stationstops.com. It's ablog for and about people who ride the rails. He recently got acall from an MTA lawyer saying his blog was pretending to be anofficial MTA website.
"I said, that's ludicrous because half of my stories about theMTA are very critical of you," Chris said.
Then Chris got a letter about a different topic. The mostpopular feature on his website is an application for the iPhone .For $6 it sends you train schedules and the information comes fromthe published Metro North schedules. Now the MTA wants a share ofChris's profits.
Here's what it boils down to: the MTA publishes its scheduleinformation online and hands it out free to anyone who wants topick up a copy. The question is - is this the intellectual propertyof the MTA? The MTA says yes, and Chris has to pay them a share ofhis profits to use it.
Chris has a different view.
"Copyright can only be applied to art, it can't be applied tofacts. If you have unoriginal list of data that are facts, youcan't copyright that," he said.
The MTA says if a commuter misses a train because Chris giveshim bad information, the commuter won't call Chris, he'll call theMTA. That's why the MTA spokesman says Chris must become anofficial, paying licensee.
"This is totally a case of big MTA lawyers getting on the phonewith a blogger and expecting him to sit down when they say sit andanybody with less experience than me in this field probably wouldhave," Chris said.
Chris was willing to become a licensee, and start paying theMTA, but the MTA wanted a piece of his profits dating back morethan two years. The MTA says that is the standard contract. Thecease and desist order came Wednesday. Chris is looking for alawyer to help him fight it.
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