An interesting copyright suit has come across the wires: Astrolable, Inc. v. Arthur David Olson and Paul Eggert. The complaint alleges that Defendants infringed on the Plaintiff’s copyright assignment to historical time zone information with their Timezone (tz or zoneinfo) database. The Timezone database, also called the Olson Database, is a library of historical timezone information. It is intended primarily for use with computer systems, notably UNIX (from which Mac OS X is derived). That means that time zone information for computers running UNIX and Mac comes from this library, which is included in the operating system.
The tz database was originally compiled by Arthur David Olson at the NIH, and has been edited and maintained by Paul Eggert at UCLA. Olson and Eggert are the named defendants in this complaint. The database was housed on NIH servers until the complaint at issue was filed. ICANN has since taken over the database. This suit is important because UNIX systems rely on updates to the tzdatabase to run time zone information. The complaint was filed by Astrolabe, Inc., a company that sells astrology software. Astrolabe asserts that it is the copyright assignee for the ACS Atlas. It appears that the heart of the complaint is that defendants used ACS’ historical time zone data to populate the tz database.
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