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back to article Astrolabe backs off, timezone database safe

When you next tell a friend what time tomorrow’s sunrise is expected, you can do so without worrying whether you need to field a lawsuit. US horoscope software company Astrolabe has withdrawn the lawsuit which last year saw the Unix timezone database shuttered. The lawsuit accused David Olsen, custodian of the Time Zone and …

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Anonymous Coward

"based on a flawed understanding of the law"

So next court case is Astrolabe vs. their former law firm?

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Re: "based on a flawed understanding of the law"

We can only hope their lawyers can be held liable and lose their license. Such willful negligence ought to result in censure.

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Re: Re: "based on a flawed understanding of the law"

It was greed that drove this one. A really huge payday awaited the lawyers and the executives at Astrolabe had they won this suit. They then would have had legal standing to go after most corporations on the planet in a way that would make Samsung/Apple look like two kids on the playground. (well, actually they do look like children on the playground, but I digress). See my other post further down.

I do agree though about penalties for this. Such blatant greed/avarice in the legal system should result in loss of licenses for the lawyers involved. Legally I think a case could be made for censuring them and possible license revocation. It won't happen, but if it did, it would discourage more of these in the future.

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Coat

Astrolabe could never have won

They should have seen it coming.

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Coat

Oh noes!

The freetards won! The end is nigh. The end of copyright, and, as a consequence, of the world, is looming. Make sure you check your closet for commies before going to bed tonight. And yes, check under the bed, too.

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Coat

LOL Commiez

I iz hidin under ur bedz!

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Re: LOL Commiez

Mi tambien

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Anonymous Coward

WTF was their lawyer doing?

"

The company says its lawsuit “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.”

"

WTF was their legal team doing - playing Angry Birds? It's the lawyers' damn jobs to detect and correct any such "flawed understandings" - they SHOULD have told their clients they were dead wrong, and STFDASTFU (sit down, shut up).

IMHO, the lawyers who handled this case should at a minimum be censured, and ideally disbarred.

"Astrolabe has also apologized to the two...."

As well they should - apologies involving many pictures of dead US presidents on green linen.

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Devil

Re: WTF was their lawyer doing? What you do...

"It's the lawyers' damn jobs to detect and correct any such "flawed understandings" - they SHOULD have told their clients they were dead wrong, and STFDASTFU (sit down, shut up)."

And the lawyer(s) could have done as you say, and...

Customer tells you to put some JSON into every REST request response giving the status of the request. You say "but HTTP responses already have status codes, and this would be extraneous, and not according to standards!" And customer says "I want it anyway". So against your best advice, they plead to pay you for unneeded work. And you take their money, because "They're the boss."

Lawyers will never be the gatekeepers for lawsuits. They will advise as to prospects, statutes, etc., but the customer decides. The lawyer represents the customer's position, and leaves the determination of IQ and sanity up to the courts.

I would not mind at all if the courts had a "shoot on sight" for stupid lawsuits. But remember that the stupid lawsuits often directly reflect the people bringing the suit. The lawyers are often enough reluctant participants.

(OG, I'm defending lawyers... )

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Anonymous Coward

Not quite

Your example isn't correct. Putting a response code in the body as well as the headers is stupid, but not "illegal".

What happened here is more like:

Customer: I want you to put the number of returned records into the HTTP status code.

Me: If I do that, it flat won't work - unless you always return 200 records. The status code CANNOT contain other data.

Customer: DO IT ANYWAY.

Me: If I do that, it won't work, and you will right back here bitching at me that it didn't work, even after I told you it wouldn't work. I don't need the hassle. If you are that stupid, I don't want your business - it isn't worth it to me.

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Better Idea

To stop bullshit like this, how about everytime a frivolous lawsuit gets filed (or *any* lawsuit involving software patents), each offending lawyer loses a finger. And the defendant gets to choose the method of removal.

Awesome to see the timezone database get out of trouble, but I shudder to think what would have happened had they not had the EFF at their back...

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Re: Better Idea

"And the defendant gets to choose the method of removal."

That's too much hassle. Make flamethrowers compulsory, just to simplify matters and keep a low budget.

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Devil

Re: Re: Better Idea

Personally I've always wanted to see an amputation performed with a spoon. Horrifically messy, and would probably require some ingenuity, but god, what a spectacle! Obviously the lawyer themselves would be expected to perform the procedure, no point having them waste anyone else's time.

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Re: Better Idea

No no, not a finger, remove a different appendage, preferably one that stops them from breeding

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Joke

Re: Re: Better Idea

"one that stops them from breeding"

Err - the wallet, then?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Better Idea

You obviously have not been around a 3rd world "no animal rights over here" farm.

Some amputations are actually performed with a spoon. Not messy at all and quite effective.

IMO the threat of having _THAT_ amputation performed on the lawyer in question should be more effective than fingers at least for around 51% of the human race (based on standard demographics statistics for the developed world).

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Anonymous Coward

Aww - I was looking forward to that...

Now we're going to miss out on hearing a load of lawyers arguing for and against time as a creative invention. I could have been like something from Douglas Adams.

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Time And Text

Thank goodness nobody thought to patent the keeping of time or the use of text or we'd never have made it as far as we have.

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Astrolube

Astrolabe is gonna need some Astrolube, they just got shafted...

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Flame

Would someone please

explain this to the UK Hydrographic office, a tentacle of the Admiralty,

The only hydrographic service in the entire world that copyrights the rising and falling of the tides.

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Joke

Re: Would someone please

"The post is required, and must contain letters."

Maybe they just want undue lay shuns?

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Paris Hilton

Wrong company name

Maybe their company should have been called "AstroLabial" for acting like a bunch of c***ts.

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Coat

Re: Wrong company name

Personally I'm thinking it should be renamed Astroglide...

I agree with everyone that said "If they're an Astrological company, shouldn't they have seen this coming?"

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Happy

Re: Re: Wrong company name

Yup, misreading that tea stain on their layout as an occultation of Venus' thingummies has cost them a lot of money.

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WTF?

So who were they going to end up extorting the money from?

Does this thing charge for it's services?

Logically this would have been a vanity lawsuit on behalf of Astrolabe and their legal representatives *should* have told them so.

If the did and the company was so dumb they went ahead anyway and the lawyers collected the cash then it's the stockholders who were dumb enough to put money in the company who are the idiots.

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Boffin

Re: So who were they going to end up extorting the money from?

I worked with Timezones for several years, tracking them and making adjustments in certain products to compensate when some country's govt lost its head and decided to shift the clocks (like almost all of them in the last 7 years...).

Unlike what the article said about this being the Unix TZ Database, its actually much wider reaching than that. In the last 12 years most large companies have ceased maintaining their own TZ tables and use Olson. Cisco, IBM, Sun/Oracle, Mozilla, Google and many others switched over for their products. Then there are the websites that depend on it as well, and open source projects. THEN you have the world governments and militaries that use it. :) I think the sole company not using Olson TZ tables (and still maintaining its own TZ's) would be Microsoft. (and they've not got the staff to keep up with it apparently since they're updates are late most of the time)

*If* Astrolabe won this lawsuit, they would then affect in one fashion or another the majority of the population on the planet (likely without them knowing, but affected nonetheless). Upon success, Astrolabe would also be entitled to sue (or get settlements from) Cisco, IBM, Oracle, Mozilla, Google, and many, many others worldwide for some real money. How many companies use Olson? Your local bank does (no matter how big or small or geographic location) so you can imagine the scope of the suits eventually traveling across the planet. The prospect of being able to fleece the planet was sufficient for Astrolabe (and the lawyers) to attempt this Don Quixote exercise. But they first had to win this first lawsuit to go after everyone else. I'm surprised that this hasn't been written about, since that seems to have been Astrolabe's business plan.

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Re: Re: So who were they going to end up extorting the money from?

The reason MS maintain their own TZ database is that the Windows time+TZ implementation is conceptually broken. Their model goes back to DOS, and consists of making the actual motherboard hardware clock hold the adjusted local time so the displayed time is always the hardware time, whereas the *ix model keeps the hardware clock in UTC and maintains displayed time offset from the hardware time by the locale and TZ database. The MS model of course requires no abstraction/translation layer so is much easier to implement, but is essentially a my-computer-on-my-desk concept. The *ix model always allowed for multiple users of the hardware in different TZ locations. The problem is that the original DOS concept was continued right through the Windows Server line.

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Re: Re: So who were they going to end up extorting the money from?

@admiraljkb

"Upon success, Astrolabe would also be entitled to sue (or get settlements from) Cisco, IBM, Oracle, Mozilla, Google, and many, many others worldwide for some real money."

Yep. There's usually a flurry of patches for updates to TZ tables twice a year, just before DST kicks in or out, to cater for the irresistible urge governments seem to have for fiddling with the dates.

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Coat

Re: Re: Re: So who were they going to end up extorting the money from?

@Wensleydale Cheese

Yes, I was building one of those patches... But after the global Timezone debacles of 2006-2009 (starting with the Aus CWG), I've now got a nervous twitch anytime someone says "Timezone", "Daylight Saving Time" (wtf, saving what?), or "SummerTime".

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@admiraljkb

"Unlike what the article said about this being the Unix TZ Database, its actually much wider reaching than that. In the last 12 years most large companies have ceased maintaining their own TZ tables and use Olson. Cisco, IBM, Sun/Oracle, Mozilla, Google and many others switched over for their products. Then there are the websites that depend on it as well, and open source projects. THEN you have the world governments and militaries that use it. :) "

Ahhaaa.

The s**t starts to clear. That looks like a pretty fat pay day. I smell shades of the old SCO/Netware games. Than deity this got settled in less than a decade.

Thumbs up for the info and their well deserved legal pumelling.

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FAIL

It's a great pity...

that the deserved bitchslap was not administered to these muppets.

Backing off, admitting fault, and apologising like they have is rare, and the text of it just a little facetious/similar to my mind.

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Trolls aplenty

Don't necessarily blame the company: there are specialist USian lawyers out there, looking for issues, and then recruiting a company to front for them.

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