In a new post to Stephen Colebourne's blog today, there's some bad news for developers of software and OSes in general - the timezone database that most software uses is down due to a copyright struggle with a company named Astrolabe, Inc.. How does this relate to PHP? It's the same database the language uses to define its timezones as a part of the DateTime functionality.
The time-zone database (sometimes referred to as the Olson database) is the computing world's principle source of time-zone data. It is embedded in every Unix and Java for starters, and will be used by many websites and probably by your iPhone. You may know it via the IDs, such as "Europe/London" or "America/New_York". But, perhaps you're thinking that time-zones don't change? Well that may be true for America and the EU right now, but certainly isn't for the rest of the world.
Astrolabe claims that the database is a part of the work on their "ACS Atlas" product and the contents of it belong to them.
The impact of this is severe for anyone that uses it - whether via Java, Unix or some other means. This really is the key tool used by everyone to tell the right time globally. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the database maintainers who have worked on this for many, many years at zero cost to the industry and for zero financial gain.
Stephen puts out a call to some of the larger technology leaders/companies to help resolve this situation and/or provide a resource where this information can once again be accessed freely.