IANA revives the TIme-Zone Database

Operation of the Time-Zone Database has been resumed, with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority taking control of the project from the National Institute of Health.

The Time-Zone Database - founded by Arthur Olson - provides information on changes to international time-zones, and is used in many operating systems, software platforms, and hardware devices where the knowledge that a city is entering daylight savings a day early this year is critical to its operation.

It's a handy service, provided for free by - for historical reasons - the National Institute of Health in the US, and open to all world-wide.

Sadly, the database was taken down earlier this month when its operators received a notification that an astrology specialist had filed a civil suit claiming infringement of intellectual property.

Astrolabe, a company founded in 1979 to sell astrology software and guide books to people who believe it's possible to divine the future from the position of the stars, claims that certain historical information held in the database breaches its copyright.

In the filing, the outfit claims that information taken from Thomas G. Shanks work 'The American Atlas' and used for time-zone information for the US prior to 1991 equals breach of its copyright after Astrolabe bought the rights to the work.

With Olson unable to fund a protracted legal battle to defend a service he provided for free, he was left with no choice but to down the Time-Zone Database until things could be straightened out.

While Astrolabe is still looking for its pound of flesh, the good news is that the Time-Zone Database is now back up thanks to the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority.

IANA, which co-ordinates the assignation of IPv4 and IPv6, has taken over control of the database via its Internet Assigned Numbers Authority arm following Olson's decision to retire as the coordinator.

As a result, it will operate both the Time-Zone Database itself and the mailing list, with updates provided by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers until the future of the project has been fully hashed-out by the Internet Engineering Steering Group.

Interestingly, IANA's version of the Time-Zone Database includes the historical information taken from the American Atlas on which Astrolabe is claiming copyright, meaning that the lawsuits are likely not yet over.

The new Time-Zone Database datasets and mailing list archive can be found over on IANA's website.