I don't think they are going to take the computerized world into the timezone dark ages. I suspect this will all be resolved reasonably, especially if companies who ship this data get involved (e.g. every *nix vendor, Oracle (Java), etc).
I am sure they see great value in being the only Astrologers who can do this, which means that they need to suppress access to this data.
It's amazing to think that people might actually care about this kind of "accuracy" in Astrology, but unfortunately, you might just be right. Geez, maybe in a year or so, they're calling the other astrologers phonies because they can't possibly have the right data.
Our laws create an environment where intellectual property abuse has proven to be a profitable venture.
The solution is not to redefine corporations as non-greedy entities.
In theory, corporations are not solely profit-seeking. In practice, they tend to be.
The reasoning behind this is that shareholder needs tend to differ. If shareholders wish to engage in philanthropy, the corporation is not the ideal (shared) vessel for doing so. Instead, individual investors may receive their asset's rent and choose to distribute their earnings as they please; management is employed to run the Corp and not make decisions for the shareholders' philanthropic activities.
In today's world of abundant choice, companies have to provide good products AND provide them ethically.
Back on topic, look at what Astrolabe have done - taken something they probably couldn't make much money from anyway, and got the unix-derived world very pissed off with them. Their employees will feel down and it'll be harder to hire, and they'll have to endure snide remarks for years. I know I'd be selling their shares today, if I had any - I don't like investing in jerks.
Instead, they could have come out and said "We're pleased to donate our IP towards this amazingly useful service", and got a pat on the back from the world. And I'm guessing most of their shareholders would have been happy their investment was making the world a better place.
Wouldn't it be easier to take measures to make undesirable behavior unprofitable than to throw away capitalism?
The problem is with the broken legal system that needs to get fixed. No I am not happy about Astrolabe doing this stupid stuff, but they are quite clearly the symptom, not the root cause. We need to fix the system instead of crying foul everytime someone uses the broken system to do something that is against societies best interest.
The same is true of the financial system. Everyday I talk to people who complain about the greedy and 'stupid' bankers. Well, they behaved 100% rationally. If you work in a system where you can play 'heads I win, tails you loose' you almost have to do it (otherwise you will be outearned and get fired). The problem is the system that allows this kind of game. That is what needs to get fixed.
This isn't always true.
The objective of a corporation is defined by the objective of its owners (if the owners are any good). This objective might not necessarily be "to make as much money as possible."
Different corporations have different cultures, and these cultures can define different priorities for the companies.
Let's make it a place for civilized discourse instead... shall we?
PS there was an actual point there. You can disagree if you want I guess, but meta discussions are always stupid - post the disagreement instead.
What was it?
Not that I would claim I always manage to instill poigniancy into my jibes.
The problem with sarcasm is that it insulates you from having to make an argument yourself. All you have to do is mimic your opponent and make them sound ridiculous. It's almost inherently a straw man fallacy unless it is exceptionally careful.
If you can't use sarcasm you're forced to state what you believe in positive terms, which makes for much more fruitful discussion. It's like the "passive voice" of argumentation. There are some cases where you just have to, but your writing gets better if you categorically avoid it.
(Yes, I know, subjective, blah blah blah. I don't care.)
Seriously. Who came up with the moronic idea that people somehow "deserve" to know what time it is?
Of course, if you want to show up on time, on the correct day, you'll also need to license out access to our date server, in addition to the time server.
Only a pinko commie would think that privately-owned intellectual property like this should be free.
HN being a site full of entrepeneurs I often see concepts about society and rights where I feel sick in my stomach, so your post did not seem very unusual to me.
The timezone data should have been derived from primary sources (legislation in the particular countries, etc.), by deriving from a secondary source which may have used editorial judgement in compiling that data there is potentially a genuine copyright issue.
It should be possible to rewrite Olson without using a secondary source (if it's not then it would imply that there is a clear copyright violation) and that's what the community should attempt to do.
It is difficult to imagine what data this database contains that is somehow of a creative nature, that comes from the source in question. Though I do recall there being some actual text in the comments it didn't strike me as pulled straight from an almanac.
These are creative decisions, I worked at a largish tech company which developed it's own timezone database and it's a non-trivial process to decide how to divide geographic locations into timezones. A lot of locations you have to pre-emptively allocate a timezone, not because they have a different timezone from their surrounding area, but because they might at some point in the future have one.
The American Atlas (the work under debate) divides Indiana into 345 different areas and gives a timezone history for each one, but there are literally millions of ways you could have subdivided Indiana and ended up with different areas, it comes down to arbitrary decisions on how you group together different timezone changes. The 345 different areas were presumably chosen based upon a creative process.
And the timezone file in question does not, unless I am very much mistaken. So even if we stipulate your point, which I don't, it wouldn't apply because the timezone isn't a copy of that aspect, and again, you can't copyright facts. Even if the timezone file used the same divisions, what would be protected is the Atlas' textual description of them, their textual history, whatever cute anecdotes are written up, not the fact of existence of 345 different areas in Indiana which have at some point had some sort of time zone difference.
You can take whatever facts in the world you like from whatever source, write them up in your own words, and the original author of the facts has zero copyright claim on your words. Copyright protects expressions, not facts. If you're managed to stretch your definition of copyright to the point that it says you can actually own facts, you have, by definition, in fact exceeded the domain of copyright. Nobody owns those 345 different areas of Indiana, only the words creatively used to describe them.
Quote (emphasis added):
This inevitably means that the copyright in a factual compilation is thin. Notwithstanding a valid copyright, a subsequent compiler remains free to use the facts contained in another's publication to aid in preparing a competing work, so long as the competing work does not feature the same selection and arrangement. As one commentator explains it: "[N]o matter how much original authorship the work displays, the facts and ideas it exposes are free for the taking. . . . [T]he very same facts and ideas may be divorced from the context imposed by the author, and restated or reshuffled by second comers, even if the author was the first to discover the facts or to propose the ideas." Ginsburg 1868.
AFAIK, the tz data just maps timezones and date ranges to offsets. Your different areas don't matter at all here, because the tz data doesn't care about the mapping of geographical regions to time zones.
"In regard to collections of facts, O'Connor states that copyright can only apply to the creative aspects of collection: the creative choice of what data to include or exclude, the order and style in which the information is presented, etc., but not on the information itself. If Feist were to take the directory and rearrange them it would destroy the copyright owned in the data."
Please don't make me copy and paste the whole article, or worse, the whole ruling in here.
A court looking at the copyright status of the timezone database would look for originality in the selection of the identifiers. Why America/New_York and not America/NY or America/NYC or even America/East_Coast? Someone made a decision to choose one form over another so there is originality, hence it is copyrightable. The same applies for other systems such as Dewey Decimal classification or the Getty Thesaurus of Placenames.
That said, it seems the problem is not in the copyright status of the timezone database but in the fact the compilers used copyrighted work to derive their information. The assumption seems to be that makes it a derived work. I'm not so sure about that.
The existence of timezones are uncopyrightable facts. The boundaries of those timezones are uncopyrightable facts. The naming of the timezones is copyrightable by the database compilers not by the atlas owners unless the compilers copied the timezone names from the atlas. Anyone got a copy to check that?
In hindsight this seems like commonsense. But maybe not when it was designed. I'm personally against these kind of litigations. But if its purely based on interpreting the law, then this could be argued to be creative/expressive.
Again, I'm not even sure that the premise is even true. That is the litigation might not even be about the naming convention.
By referencing the city name all those historical changes are also included.
You are only thinking about supporting the _current_ timezone, but this database also supports timezones for past dates and times.
The law is copyrighted to the Government of Ireland. The law basically says "The shaded area on the map is the new city limits". However the map is almost certainly copyrighted to OSi (Ordnance Survey of Ireland), and is not free to copy.
We already have a great example for this: the military.
The military operates on zulu time for things like air operations. You want to know exactly when the C-130 is going to arrive, not screw around with offsets or local time diffs.
But they still operate for mundane stuff on local time: 'Assemble for formation at 0745.' 'Mess opens at 0530'. Like that.
Because we live on a big globe and people like having '0530' be 'too early in the morning' no matter where you are.
Going down that route though: You are right, that this stuff is completely arbitrary and probably a heritage of some sorts. But it's deeply ingrained.
The world would be a better place if everyone would drive on the right (haha!) side. Why don't we fix it overnight?
The world would be a better place with only one (and simple) calendar. Go ahead, propose one.
The world would be a better place without discussions about date and time _formats_. You know how much these cost?
The world would be a better place without different units, depending on country. Can we please drop feet and whatever other body parts were used? It's "historical baggage".
The world would be a better place if we had just one country with one legislation and one global set of rights.
(Obligatory link: http://worldtimebuddy.com - which I found through this site - is regularly the most awesome utility the web has to offer for me)
See, I don't really disagree with you. But you're a dreamer if you discuss about whether we really should depend on time zones. And in my book a couple of issues are more important to fix before we tackle that problem and introduce a stardate of some sorts.
A hobby of mine is thinking up "better" ways to do things that I know will never be implemented because the current way is good enough and the barriers to change are huge. My personal favorites are a combination of a new calendar, new lat/long system, and new set of timezones.
The calendar has eight months of 28 days and four months of 35 days (so that every month has an exact number of weeks, so that a given day of the month is always the same day of the week). The first day of the year exists outside of the months (month zero, day one), and would colloquially be "new year's day." When a leap day is needed, it is added as an extra day at the end of the year (month thirteen, day one), and would colloquially be "leap day." The order of the months would be short-long-short-short-long-short-etc (so that each season has one long and two short months).
Whenever I'm in a situation where I can't keep myself engaged by reading or conversation (e.g. waiting in line with no wireless signal), I amuse myself by dreaming up crap like this.
Creating an entirely new calendar would be easiest on an entirely new planet.
Even if you decide to go with four seasons, the definitions of the seasons get tricky. You can define them by the solar calendar, or you can define them by environmental conditions; the two tend to be out of phase by about six weeks. I actually figured out a way to make the months line up reasonably well with the four environmental seasons and with the six environmental seasons (which are not of equal length); it wasn't perfect for either, but it was OK for both. I didn't bother keeping notes...
Yeah, it's kind of fun to think about...
So you could have four season-months of 13 weeks (91 days) each. But I like the idea of months that are in the same ballpark as lunar cycles. Lunar cycles and solar cycles don't mesh, so you can't have months that perfectly match lunar cycles unless you're willing to have months that float against years the way weeks currently float against months, but then again some people might find that appealing.
It does have the advantage that it comes very close to lining up with the lunar cycle, so that the lunar month would only slide very slowly against the calendar month (about half a lunar-month of phase shift per year). And since the definition of "season" is very mushy anyway, maybe thirteen months would be the way to go.
It is useful to have a shared understanding of where in the day you expect an event to happen. E.g. 1pm is going to be around lunchtime whether you are in Sydney or New York.
Also, dates have exactly the same problems as time zones - the date starts at midnight local time. If lcoal time changes, then for part of the day, so does the date.
It went nowhere, mainly because it offered nothing we didn't already have. Anyone who wanted/needed a time that was the same world-wide used UTC as they have done for centuries.
It's kind of a shame they went nowhere. Something like Swatch beats would be useful. See, for example, Stack Exchange "days" - I have no idea when they start or finish in my time-zone.
We do have a "world time" as well, if you would like to live by it. It's called UTC.
Personally, time zones help me to relate to others in a different part of the world. If I say I got up at 5am, someone on the other side of the world could say "Why did you sleep in so late? I eat lunch at 6am". With a single time, we would need to translate the numbers for local interpretation, otherwise they have no meaning.
But current model is too complicated, mainly due to daylight saving time (DST). If we would get rid of DST, and map timezones based on longitude and country borders (and state borders for larger countries like Russia, USA, Canada), things would be much simpler. Of course, when countries are split or merged, some updates would be needed, but usually then other data (city-country mappings etc.) needs to be updated too, so this wouldn't be that big issue.
Is this the type of crap we can come to expect now that CmdrTaco is gone?
/me hugs HN and will never compare it to Reddit again.
It's only used by guys who -must- use it. Air plane drivers, strategic guys, comm center operators.
Everyone else uses the local time.
I suspect if UTC / zulu were really the bee's knees some general would mandate everyone use it.
Heck, they got me - a dumb American from the sticks - to think in metric pretty easily. UTC would be a breeze.
But there are "between 20 and 100" changes to the worldwide timezone-set per year. So three weeks from now, someone's gonna change their timezone rules, effective perhaps 2013. Maybe it'll be Bolivia. And then three weeks later, someone else, maybe some part of Indiana. Then three weeks later, maybe a civil war in some ex-SSR or something finally resolves, and the two different halves end up using different time zone plans (one of them uses DST, the other doesn't, and neither of them use the USSR regime they had last year).
So now a year passes, it's 2012, what're you doing? Is your software using a database that's a year (and maybe 50 events) out of date? Or did you hand-maintain it, because you care about Indiana, and you got 10 of the 50 events? Or maybe you used the Debian fork of tzdata?
And what am _I_ doing? Probably not the same thing as you. And now when my software and your software try to interoperate (maybe our iCal calendaring, maybe our enterprise order management integration bus service routing frameworks, maybe we just want to agree when your mother's flight will land), guess what. Sooner or later a relevant event happens in one of the altered timezones, and someone misses a flight, and we get a very very difficult-to-track-down bug.
Actually, it's not that terrible, as long as every time event you care about takes place in a big important time-jurisdiction that'll be maintained by every tzdata fork that every software you care about will use. Which I guess could theoretically apply to me or you. I don't actually care about Indiana, so I don't care if time events that take place there don't synchronize.
On the other hand, I think you are completely groundless in your assertion that it can't fork over future changes. There could be multiple patch databases with disjoint changesets in them, with different software using different databases.
And it's not _my_ parable. It's my rephrasing of the FA, and the comments by the FA's author in his own comments thread.
If the site remains down, mailing list members would simply discuss and post the change that needed to be made and software embedding the files and OS vendors would need to update manually.
tl;dr Nothing is going to change anytime soon.
Very short term, no big deal. Longer term, it could be a big deal if this leads to fragmentation and inconsistencies in tzdata.
edit: whoops direct link should be:
(Not defending it, the concept of database copyright is mostly stupid, but you can't just say "databases are copyrightable", because that's not how the law actually works anywhere.)
I can see current and future, but the almanac's data seems worthless to me.
A contrived example: Say I'm in London and I want to know what time the NYSE opened up in London-local time on Black Thursday, October 24, 1929. That requires looking up the opening time in NYC and then converting the time to a different timezone, possibly taking into account DST in both locales.
In the real world, things get not so much more complex as a whole lot stupider. Still, I think the courts could muddle through that one with minimal problems.