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Berlin's public transport company forbids free iPhone app

Berlin's public transport company forbids free iPhone app
You know how to get to Alexanderplatz? Me neither. Thanks BVG. Photo: DPA

Berlin public transportation company BVG has banned a beloved iPhone application developed by a 21-year-old student to help people navigate the city’s intricate metro system, daily Die Tageszeitung reported on Friday.

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The program, “Fahr-Info-Berlin,” was developed by Jonas Witt and has been downloaded for free some 20,000 times from the iTunes App Store since July.

The application – which locates users via their mobile telephone network, tells them which BVG metro stops they can find nearby and helps plan timely routes – is popular with users, but not BVG. The company contacted Witt three weeks ago, telling him the program violated their copyright and demanding he remove it from iTunes. The decision has raised user hackles on internet forums, the paper reported.

Witt said he thought the company would be happy that "as many people as possible were well-informed and happily on their way with the bus and the metro."

But BVG spokeswoman Petra Reetz said that while such an iPhone application was in the company’s interest, they were forced to forbid the use of their transportation schedule. “That is our copyright and Apple is one of the richest firms in the world,” she said, adding that BVG plans to develop their own version of the application soon.

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